Abuja – On the occasion of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (30/7), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced the opening of a new facility in Edo state that will provide unhindered access to legal services to victims of trafficking in Nigeria.
The legal hub will provide free, prompt, timely and confidential legal aid to victims regardless of sex, age and gender. Parallel to the opening of the pilot facility in Edo, IOM conducted awareness raising sessions in Delta and Lagos states, where two additional hubs will be established at the end of the year.
“Currently, prosecution of traffickers in Nigeria is focused primarily on criminal cases,” said Bertha Nguvulu, IOM Nigeria Counter Trafficking Project Officer. “The legal hubs will bring together all actors involved in criminal, as well as civil proceedings for victims of sexual and labour exploitation seeking legal redress in the country,” she added.
The launch follows consultations with various legal actors in all three states such as the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Ministry of Justice, the Nigerian Bar Association, the International Federation of Women Lawyers, as well as academia.
IOM will provide training and equipment to the Nigerian Ministry of Justice who will be responsible for the management of the Edo State. The Lagos and Delta legal hubs will be hosted by the University of Lagos and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), respectively.
“This facility is the first of its kind in West Africa to offer a victim-centred approach,” said Hon. Justice Urhomwen Isoken Erameh, representing the Ministry of Justice during the virtual opening ceremony. “We must ensure that victims are well informed about the services available to them.”
Since 2017, IOM has assisted the return of over 2,059 victims of trafficking—the vast majority of whom come from Edo and Delta states—to Nigeria. Support to these victims include accommodation in places of safety, medical and psychosocial support, education, skills development and vocational training, livelihood and income-generating opportunities, soft skills training, mentorship, legal aid, and family reunification.
Over 70 per cent of the 20,500 Nigerian returnees assisted by IOM since 2017 have reported some form of abuse along their migration journey.
This initiative is funded by the United Kingdom Home Office project on Strengthening Direct Assistance for Victims of Trafficking (VoTs) in Nigeria Through a Victim Centred Approach.
For more information please contact Jorge Galindo at IOM Nigeria, Tel: +234 906 273 9168, Email: [email protected]