By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
INTERNATIONAL Labour Organisation, ILO, has attributed the high incident of human trafficking, forced and child labour in Nigeria and other African countries to the high rate of poverty and unemployment.
At a meeting of National referral mechanism for Nigeria, in Lagos, ILO’s Director for Nigeria, the Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOW AS, Ms Sina Chuma-Mkandawire, lamented that the wish to escape poverty and unemployment has helped in feeding the supply side of this ruthlessly exploitative and abusive practice of human trafficking, forced and child labour.
According to her, the movement of people in search of gainful employment and a better life is a natural phenomenon, adding however, that when the decision to move is based on false information and untenable promises, deceit and diverse methods of coercion for the purpose of exploitation, then it becomes unacceptable.
She said, “It becomes a criminal act perpetrated in order to obtain unscrupulous gains which are pocketed by depriving victims of their fundamental rights as human beings and as workers.
“As we all know, unemployment in Africa is pervasive. National economies are dominated by rural, informal and unregulated sectors. Poverty and the wish to escape it feed the supply side of this ruthlessly exploitative and abusive practice of human trafficking.
In most cases, those who fall for it are deceived and misinformed about life and working conditions on the other side. They are promised a better livelihood for themselves and for their dependent; a better opportunity to escape poverty. But these are only deceitful statements craftily designed by traffickers to appeal to the vulnerability of victims and arouse their urge to escape poverty.
“Unfortunately, almost invariably, the reality on the other side is abuse, rape and sexual exploitation, long hours of poorly paid or uncompensated work with no access to legal redress. Trafficking in human beings is not only a serious crime, but it is also an abuse of an individual’s human rights.
“Being trafficked results in the sustained physical and psychological abuse of the victim solely for the financial gain of others and it starts the moment the individual is deceived, persuaded or forced into the hands of the traffickers. Trafficking has consequences not only for the victims but also for their families and the nations involved.
“The victims, especially women and girls, are at the risk of pregnancy, maternal mortality, sexual transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. Child prostitution and child labour deprive children of the opportunity to pursue and achieve their potential, thereby depriving the nation of vital human resources for development.
Also speaking, Executive Secretary, National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters, NAPTIP, Mrs B. Jeddy-Agba, recalled that NAPTIP was established in August, 2003 as a Federal Agency with the statutory mandate to handle all issues on human trafficking in Nigeria.
He said “The Agency by its mandate has the statutory responsibility to provide assistance to trafficked persons and transform them into functional members of the society. Pursuant to its mandate, the Agency articulated a National Policy on Protection and Assistance to Trafficked Persons (NPP ATP) in Nigeria for use by stakeholders for the rehabilitation of victims. The Policy which is in line with internationally acceptable stai1dards and best practices has also been adopted by the ECOWAS as a regional document.”