File: Human trafficking: NAPTIP in battle with human traffickers

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA-WITH the advent of COVID-19 pandemic,human traffickers have shifted from physical recruitment of their victims to virtual recruitment through virtual assessment of victim and proxy negotiation,the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons,NAPTIP,has said.

To this end,the agency has begun arrangements towards collaborating  with the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children to enhance tracing and diligent investigation of all cases relating to child abuse and human trafficking.

Director General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri–Azi, said this while speaking on the 2022 counter trafficking strategic approach of the agency aimed at ensuring protection of Nigerians from human trafficking and other forms of exploitation, online and offline.

“It is a known fact that human trafficking has continued to evolve in line with globalization, especially with technology, traffickers have kept pace with technology by using the World Wide Web for their operations.”

“This modus of operandi is prominent with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a shift from physical recruitment to virtual recruitment through virtual assessment of victim and proxy negotiation,”she said.

According to her,“This database shall enable NAPTIP to have access to vital information of perpetrators who use social media platforms to electronically distributing pornographic materials to either blackmail or exploit children. “

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“The system will also help trace missing children, rescue child victims and rescue children from abusive situation”, Dr Fatima Waziri–Azi added.

“Hard time awaits human traffickers and other organized criminal gangs operating with the aid of cyber-technology as the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has concluded collaboration with the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children to enhance tracing and diligent investigation of all cases relating of child abuse and human trafficking.

“With this development, the Agency shall have unrestricted access to millions of information around the world that would help tackle online recruitment, trafficking and exploitation of victims,”the agency said in a statement by its Head, Press and Public Relations Unit, Stella Nezan.

The statement recalled that “Dr Fatima Waziri–Azi, has consistently maintained that the arrest and prosecution of high profile human traffickers operating both within and outside Nigeria remain one of her strategic priority as this will serve as deterrent to others as well as reduce the level of impunity and ensure satisfactory justice delivery to victims of human trafficking.”

“Investigation revealed that apart from millions of vulnerable and unaccompanied children that are being trafficked across the West Africa corridors and migration routes, many victims are held and blackmailed by traffickers in various destinations with the use of technology to shield their identities and also ensure firm and effective control measure on their victims.

“The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children is the custodian of the Cybertipline, which is a centralized reporting mechanism for crimes related to the sexual exploitation of children. 

“The Cybertipline provides an online mechanism for members of the public and electronic service providers to report incidents of suspected child sexual exploitation.

“Based in the United States of America, Cybertipline serves as the National Resource Centre and clearing house on missing and sexually exploited Children. It works closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the US Secret Service, the Military Criminal Investigative Organizations, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task forces, the US Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity and other state and local Law Enforcement Agencies across the World,”it read.

According to the statement,”Under this new partnership, NAPTIP shall have access to real time information on child sex trafficking, sex tourism involving children, child sexual molestation by non-family members and online enticement of children for sexual acts, among others.”

Speaking on the benefits of the new operational partnership, the Director General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri–Azi, said the latest development is a product of the renewed determination by the Agency to investigate and prosecute those operating remotely with the aid of technology. 

“It is a known fact that human trafficking has continued to evolve in line with globalization, especially with technology, traffickers have kept pace with technology by using the World Wide Web for their operations.”

“This modus of operandi is prominent with the advent of the COVID-19 Pandemic. There is a shift from physical recruitment to virtual recruitment through virtual assessment of victim and proxy negotiation”

“This database shall enable NAPTIP to have access to vital information of perpetrators who use social media platforms to electronically distributing pornographic materials to either blackmail or exploit children. The system will also help trace missing children, rescue child victims and rescue children from abusive situation”, Dr Fatima Waziri–Azi stated.

“The NAPTIP Director-General called on all stakeholders to cooperate with the Agency though the sharing of information on missing children and other suspected activities of traffickers within their environment and be assured that such information shall be treated with strict confidentiality and prompt attention,”it added.

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