[EDITORIAL] The Fight Against Trafficking In Persons

The Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons was adopted in 2010 and urges governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat human trafficking in all its forms. The UN plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN’s broader programmes to boost development and strengthen security worldwide.

Almost a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide are children, according to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons released in December 2016 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Women and girls comprise 71 per cent of human trafficking victims, the same report states.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), around 21 million people are victims of forced labor globally, and of these, a significant number are also trafficking victims.

The UN plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN’s broader programs to boost development and strengthen security worldwide.

The UN resolution also states that trafficking in persons, especially women and children, constitutes an offense and a serious threat to human dignity and physical integrity, human rights, and development. Despite sustained measures taken at the international, regional, and national levels, trafficking in persons remains one of the grave challenges facing the international community, which also impairs the enjoyment of human rights and needs a more concerted international response.

Human trafficking is estimated to generate around $150 billion annually. It is one of the fastest growing sources of income for organized crime, exceeded only by drugs and arms trade. This horrific act of modern-day slavery continues to thrive around the globe, due to the little risk involved and the enormous profits.

Most of the money produced from human trafficking goes untaxed, which means it is not benefiting the community. Fair competition can also be affected by traffickers investing in legitimate businesses to launder money and disguise their crime.

Governments are left spending resources and millions of dollars on preventing, treating, and supporting victims of human trafficking. That includes, for example, costs for developing strategies, and empowering local leaders to contribute to anti-trafficking efforts and increase awareness. There are also the costs to the police who investigate and collect evidence of suspected human trafficking, as well as apprehending and prosecuting the offenders. Then there are the criminal court, prison, probation, and other government services’ costs. Successfully prosecuting traffickers and confiscating their income and assets may offset some of the costs, but rarely is it enough.

Child labor and commercial sexual exploitation of children can also result in entire generations of adults being unable to work. Due to suffering severe trauma and potential illness from years of abuse, previously tormented adults may have to depend on the government welfare systems for their survival. When trafficking victims are able to work and take part in the economy, they often have a difficult time obtaining a job since they are typically seen as criminals by the law.

Thankfully, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has the mandate of enforcing the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Enforcement and Administration Act (TIPPEA) in Nigeria.

Since its inception, the agency has had hundreds of convictions on human trafficking, with thousands of persons being rescued. The agency has been at the forefront of rescuing and rehabilitating Nigerians from Libya with the help of the federal government, the International Office for Migration, and other international organizations, which has gotten a commendation from the United States.

We are upbeat about the progress the federal government is making through NAPTIP at reversing human trafficking. We are also delighted about the support being received from the UN and other organisations aimed at fighting the criminal acts of human traffickers.

We however call the attention of the federal government to the root of trafficking in persons, poverty. We therefore call on the federal government to tackle the problem with a dogged fight against poverty.

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