Press Release —Local July 30, 2020

New Initiative Aims to Reinforce Criminal Justice System to Fight Trafficking and Smuggling in Nigeria

IDF IOM Counter-trafficking

Abuja – the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on 28 July launched a new initiative to strengthen investigation and prosecution of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in Edo and Delta states, the main places of origin of over 20,500 returning migrants assisted by IOM since 2017.

The project was officially launched during a virtual meeting attended by representatives from the Nigeria National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking, and other relevant state-level and national actors.

Activities under this project include the training of local non-governmental organizations and government officials actively involved in the fight against these crimes. Context-specific training manuals will focus on building the capacity of police, judges and other practitioners on gender sensitive and victim-centered investigation and prosecution, enabling them to share this knowledge amongst their peers.

“The importance of the justice sector in the fight against human trafficking cannot be overemphasized as they are the last hope for victims to get restitution from their traffickers,” said Julie Okah-Donli, Director General of NAPTIP during the launch. “This project is a big step in improving the capacity and knowledge of criminal justice operatives in Nigeria,” she added.

Despite recent achievements, bringing perpetrators to justice remains a challenge in the country, evidenced by the low number of cases that have been investigated, prosecuted, and ultimately convicted.

“Efforts to combat and prevent trafficking and smuggling should take a joint approach involving not only law enforcement, but also healthcare and social services,” said Franz Celestin, IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission. “This project aims to highlight the protection needs and human rights of victims across law enforcement activities,” he added. 

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.

This project is launched in the lead-up to the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, celebrated every year on 30 July. This year, the commemoration focuses on the first responders to human trafficking—those seeking justice for victims of trafficking and challenging the impunity of criminals. While COVID-19 has disrupted international and domestic travel around the world, trafficking and smuggling not only continue, but also exacerbate the risks for thousands of migrants who are stranded in transit countries with poor access to basic services.

The USD 200,000 project Strengthening the Capacity of the Justice Sector to Address Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in the Edo and Delta States, Nigeria is supported by the IOM Development Fund and will be implemented over an 18-month period.

For more information please contact Jorge Galindo at IOM Nigeria, Tel: +234 906 273 9168, Email: jgalindo@iom.int