Human trafficking and smuggling of migrants exist in Nigeria and around the world today, and it affects women, girls, children and youth. Human trafficking leaves no country untouched. Nigerians are trafficked right here and outside the borders to Europe and other continents. Nigerians are also smuggled across Africa and Europe. Trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants are two related yet distinct crimes.
Human Trafficking: Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons (ACT); by threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim (MEANS); for the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs(PURPOSE).
Smuggling of migrants: Smuggling of Migrants is a crime involving the procurement for financial or other material benefit of illegal entry of a person into a State of which that person is not a national or resident. Migrant smuggling affects almost every country in the world. In line with Article 6 of Smuggling of Migrants Protocol, Nigeria and other countries criminalized both smuggling of migrants and enabling of a person to remain in a country illegally.
Virtually every country in the world is used by profit-seeking criminals for smuggling migrants—either as a country of origin, a transit country or a country of destination (or a combination thereof). According to United Nations, Smuggled migrants are vulnerable to exploitation and their lives are often put at risk: thousands of people have suffocated in containers, perished in deserts or drowned at sea while being smuggled to another country. Thousands of Nigerians have lost their lives as a result of the indifferent or even deliberate actions of migrant smugglers
The Need To Prevent Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants
Human trafficking and irregular migration thrives where there is no sustainable preventive measures. According to Citizens Association For Combating Trafficking in Human Beings And all Forms of Gender, “When it comes to prevention of human trafficking, we must first of all pay attention to the causes that lead to the situation of trafficking”. Traffickers tend to exploit the needs (basic physical needs for housing and food or emotional needs, such as love and belongingness) of potential victims, hence, in addition to other preventive measures; prevention strategies should include the needs of vulnerable individuals in the community. This is because raising awareness is not sufficient to preventing human trafficking and smuggling of migrants; awareness shouldn’t be done in isolation, but it has to be part of a comprehensive preventive strategies.
How to prevent human trafficking and smuggling of migrants
- Learn: Participating in preventing human trafficking and smuggling of migrants doesn’t require you to be an expert, but to have a basic knowledge of the issues and their indicators. Learning about these includes attending seminars & conferences, doing online courses, and visiting Shelters to understand the experience of survivors.
- Monitor and Report: If you are in Nigeria and believe someone may be a victim of human trafficking, or is about to be smuggled, call the NAPTIP Hotline at 0703-000-0203 or report via NAPTIP App or contact Network of CSOs Against Trafficking and Labour (NACTAL) on www.nactal.org.
- Volunteer and support anti-trafficking efforts in your community: Volunteerism is a great way of rendering selfless services to aid prevention of human trafficking. The fact is that, the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants requires more citizens who are willing to use their talents, strengths, skills, etc in supporting organizations’ activities. In Nigeria, there are hundreds of organizations tackling human trafficking that you can volunteer for. To find out and volunteer for anti-human trafficking organizations in your state, contact Network of CSOs Against Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL) on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nactal.org
- Engage Your Political Leaders: Engage your local government area or community leaders to let them know you care about combating human trafficking, ask what they are doing to address it and suggest ways you can get involved them in preventing human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in your locality.
- Raise Awareness: Host an awareness-raising event during your birthday, anniversary, or any celebration. The event can be a film viewing and discussion; panel discussion, debate, quiz, drama, or seminar. You can partner with local anti-human trafficking organization to host such event.
- Fundraise: Organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization. Combating human trafficking requires resources, and these are limited. You can leverage on your networks to organize a fundraiser to support any local anti-human trafficking organization in your area.
- Social Media Campaign: You can use your social media platforms to raise awareness about human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. Social media campaign can include TweetChat, Facebook chat, Facebook Live video, Whatsapp group chat, or posting regular information on your social media platform, using the following hashtags: #NAPTIP, #ATIPSOM, #Stophumantrafficking, #Freedom
- Engage your religious leader: Across the globe, religious leaders are among the most influential people in the lives of their members. Also, majority of victims of human trafficking belong to different religion. If you can write to and engage your religious leaders to organize anti-human trafficking event or to share messages about indicators of human trafficking among members.
- Empower vulnerable people and victims: You can provide jobs, internships, skills training, and other opportunities to trafficking survivors and youth who are vulnerable to human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. Creating opportunities for our youth through skills acquisition and agricultural training programmes can shielded many youth from being susceptible to human trafficking
The Action Against trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Nigeria (A-TIPSOM) began in 2018, through an agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Government of Nigeria, with the objective to reduce the trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, at national, regional and international level, and between Nigeria and the European Union, with specific emphasis in women and children, working with main Nigerian agencies, such as NAPTIP, Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Police Force and the representative of the civil society, NACTAL. A-TIPSOM project is tackling human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in Nigeria through the 5Ps which include Prevention, Protection, Policy, Partnership and Prosecution.
Joseph Chidiebere Osuigwe,
Communication and Awareness Raising Officer,