By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
The rising profile of forced labour and human trafficking in Nigeria and other parts of the globe where no fewer than 20.9 million people are in forced labour situations, yielding perpetrators an estimated 32.6 Billion Dollars profits yearly is a serious concern to every decent person or group.
LAST week, stakeholders in Nigeria regarded as a source, transit and destination for forced labour and human trafficking, gathered in Lagos at a training for media professionals to restrategise on how to combat human Trafficking and forced labour.
No fewer than 32 media professionals including Professor Raph Akinfeleye, Head of Mass Communication Department, University of Lagos, UNILAG, and others drawn from print, electronic and online organizations across the country, attended the programme.
The three-day training where National Agency for Prohibition of Traffick in Persons and other related matters, NAPTIP, said it secured a total of 168 convictions in the past nine years of operations, was jointly organized by International Labour Organisation, ILO, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODDC and International Organisation for Migration, IOM was funded by the European Union, EU.
Human trafficking cases
In spite of this frightening number of victims of human trafficking cases, convictions have been very minimal as in 2006, only 5, 808 prosecutions worldwide was recorded indicating that for every 800 persons trafficked, only one person is convicted.
Statistics on forced labour: Giving details the of global estimates of forced labour, ILO’s Director for Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ms Sina Chuma-Mkandawire, said out of 20.9million, 11.4 million of the number are women and girls.
Represented by Mrs. Chinyere Emeka-Anuna, ILO National Programme Coordinator, Human Trafficking Project, said while Asia and Pacific region account for the highest number with 11.7 million victims, Africa ranks second with 3.7 million forced labourers.
According to her “9.5million (45%) are boys and men. 15.4million (74%) are adults while 5.5million (26%) are children under 18 years. 4,6 million (22%) are in sexual exploitation while 14,2 million (68%) are victims of forced labour in different sectors including domestic work. 2.2 million (10%) are in state-imposed forms of forced labour. 9.1million (44%) have moved either internally or across borders. 11.8 million (56%) are exploited in their place of origin or residence.
She explained that it means that three out of every 1000 persons are in forced labour situation at any given time.
Speaking, Prof. Akinfeleye lamented that both the international and local agencies involved in tackling the problem of human trafficking had not lived up to expectations, arguing that the fact that only a few traffickers had been convicted over the years showed that the agencies are not doing their work effectively.
In Nigeria, he noted that “there is no comprehensive legal framework in Nigeria for curbing human trafficking citing the case of the nation’s porous border”, and called for greater collaboration among stakeholders to create awareness on the ievils of human trafficking and forced labour.
Role of media
In Nigeria some of the factors promoting human trafficking include poverty, cultural awareness, globalisation, ignorance and porous borders. Globalisation has been identified as a major factor because it has over the years triggered increased cross-border labour exchanges, most of which are carried out by private employment agencies.
In a remark, UNODC representative in Nigeria, Ms. Maiam Sissoko, said media plays an indispensable role in educating people about the many manifestations of global human trafficking, presenting the problem in human terms and in all its painful detail.
According to Sissoko, represented by Anne Ikpeme, “Yet media coverage is weak in many parts of the world. Some news media outlets are not yet aware of the trafficking phenomenon, or confuse it with other issues such as illegal migration and smuggling of migrants.
The media also has a large role to play in mobilizing public support and involvement to help prevent and combat trafficking. Due to its reach and ability to mould public opinion, it is a powerful tool of social change. However, media publicity should take into consideration the rights approach and ensure that there is no violation of the rights of the victims and survivors.”
Similarly, IOM, noted that as part of its programmes in Nigeria, it was currently supporting the implementation of the project “Enhancing multi-stakeholder cooperation to fight human trafficking in countries of origin and destination” developed in the framework of the UN.GIFT (United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking) by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and IOM.
According to IOM, “The project which commenced in February 2011 and adopts a multi-disciplinary approach has as participating countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Nigeria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom .The overall objective the project is to stem irregular migration by preventing and combating trafficking in human beings between Nigeria and selected European countries.
The overall objective the project is to stem irregular migration by preventing and combating trafficking in human beings between Nigeria and selected European countries.”
“One of the activities of the project is awareness raising for media practitioners on human trafficking. As we all know, the media play a very important role in the fight against human trafficking due to its reach and ability to mould public opinion, as well as being a powerful tool of social change.”
“The media also have a large role to play in creating awareness on the ills of human trafficking and mobilizing public involvement in preventing and combating human trafficking. Notwithstanding this all-important role of the media in the fight against human trafficking, their coverage on human trafficking in most part of the world is still very weak and some news media outlets are not yet aware of the trafficking phenomenon, or confuse it with other migration issues such as illegal migration and smuggling.”