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UNODC deepens journalists’ knowledge on human trafficking through training



The Executive Secretary of NAPTIP, Beatrice Jedy-Agba

TO ensure better reporting of issues of human trafficking as well as promote better management of migration in Nigeria, United Nation Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), with funding from European Union, recently trained some journalists on how to report human trafficking. The training is a follow-up on an earlier one organised in Benue in 2013.

The journalists were drawn from different parts of the country and across print and broadcast media. Some of the issues examined at the training were: Major Changes in the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) (trafficking) law; Overview of Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants; The Role of Mass Media in Protecting Victims of Trafficking; Sensitivity and Responsibility when Interviewing Trafficked Victims and Succeeding with New Media among others.

An Assistant Director of NAPTIP, Mr. Godwin Morka, who discussed The Role of the Mass Media in Protecting Victims of Trafficking, noted that the mass media are very important partners in stemming the scourge of trafficking in persons, reason NAPTIP always sought partnership with media practitioners in the fight against human trafficking, and not just for mere news making.

According to him, reporting human trafficking matters requires interest, technical knowledge and empathy. He therefore urged journalists to truthfully represent the particular situation both in its immediate and wider context, as it is very important to get the full picture before reporting a trafficking situation. Because human trafficking is a complex crime that involves human relationships and the psyche, Morka enjoined reporters to keep a check on their emotion and seek all the facts besides developing technical competency on the issue.

He further advised, “Avoid approaches that potentially stereotype or sensationalise people, situations or places. Reporting of human trafficking requires the highest level of professionalism and clarity of mission. Refrain from intentionally or unintentionally further stigmatising and traumatising the trafficked person.”

Morka also said that in picking images for the stories, it should be based on values of respect and equality aside being sensitive to the situation of the trafficked person, as the images and imagery should affirm their human dignity and self-worth

He continued, “Never use derogatory language to describe trafficked persons based on your knowledge of their experiences. Establish and record whether the subjects wish to be named or identified and always act accordingly. Conform to the highest standards of human rights and protection of vulnerable groups. Protect, preserve and disseminate the rights of every child, as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Child’s Rights Act.”

In another paper, Morka also put the participants through the major changes in the NAPTIP (trafficking) law. Besides highlighting the changes in the law, he provided the participants with key areas of the law to enrich their knowledge of it.

On his part, Head, Outreach and Communications, UNODC, Mr. Sylvester Tunde Atere who presented a paper on the Overview of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM), stated that TIP is a complex problem related to fields like labour, migration, organised crime, prostitution and violence against women. Atere said that slavery and slave-like condition is as old as civilization, noting that slavery differs from one society to another.

According to him, “Trans– Atlantic Slave Trade is more synonymous with modern definition of TIP than traditional African slavery. They are the same in purpose, treatment, human right violation and exploitation. It is easy to conclude by saying that TIP is a modern form of slavery.”

Atere also argued that all countries, whether trafficking is taking place through, from, into or within their borders, are directly or indirectly affected, reason he felt that they must be committed to the fight against human trafficking. He listed stages in TIP to include recruitment, transportation, exploitation, rescue, rehabilitation and re-integration while factors facilitating TIP are poverty, desire to earn a living, greed, ignorance, parental neglect, lack of opportunities and conflicts.

For better understanding of TIP and SOM, he provided the similarities and the differences in the two issues.

Atere noted that significant challenges remained in the efforts to fully implement United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Human Trafficking, adding, “Three areas stand out: knowledge and research, capacity-building and development, and monitoring and evaluation”.

He summed up his paper with this following words, “TIP and SOM often occur in tandem: the distinctions are not always evident. However both involve taking advantage of vulnerabilities of persons to obtain profit. While they are both risky and potentially life threatening, the impact for victims of TIP are usually more overriding and the harm more difficult and complex to reverse or remedy.”

Atere also enlightened participants on the activities of UNODC, especially in the area of combating human trafficking which are guided by three pillars: Field-based technical cooperation projects aimed at enhancing the capacity of member states to counteract illicit drugs and organised crime; research and analytical work to increase knowledge and understanding of drugs and crime issues and expand the evidence base for policy and operational decisions and normative work to assist states in the ratification and implementation of the relevant international treaties, besides domesticating legislation on drugs, crime and terrorism, and the provision of secretariat and substantive services to the treaty-based and governing bodies.

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