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UNODC urges increased response to human trafficking

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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has admonished Nigeria to scale up its criminal justice response to Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) as part of efforts to end the scourge.

Country representative of UNODC, Oliver Stolpe, made the call, yesterday, at a joint stakeholders’ dialogue on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (TIP-SOM) organised by Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Abuja, yesterday.

He said presently, investigations into trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants are few and convictions are even fewer, a situation that has made the illegal trade a low-risk and high-reward crime that is increasingly attracting organised status.

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According to him, “It is of paramount importance that we all, Nigeria as well as their counterparts in other countries, learn how to make effective use of the existing instruments of international cooperation, including the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime and its protocols on trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.”

Stolpe, who described TIP-SOM as a predominantly transnational crime, said for many years, Nigerian women and girls remained the largest group of non-European TIP victims identified by authorities in the EU countries, hence the need for harmonised disaggregated data that can held in directing focus and efforts for impact and results.

Minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, explained that right from early 1960’s, slavery held sway, but after it was formally abolished globally, it took the form of trafficking and smuggling of people for sexual exploitation, forced labour and organ harvest, among others, to make profit.

Aregbesola, who was represented by Comptroller General of NIS, Muhammad Babandede, noted that human trafficking is not new but it has renewed in an insidious manner as deception is the modus operandi and “79 per cent of human trafficking is for sexual exploitation while 18 per cent is for forced labour.”

Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) of United States Embassy in Nigeria, Kathleen FitzGibbon, said US had recommitted, for the third time, $447, 000 programme to support government and civil societies in fight human trafficking.

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