An Examination Of The Legal Framework For Combating Human Trafficking In Nigeria

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An Examination Of The Legal Framework For Combating Human Trafficking In Nigeria

Chapter One

General Introduction

This research seeks to examine the legal framework for combating human trafficking in Nigeria. The term “human trafficking” is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage , or the extractions of organs or tissues. Human trafficking can occur within a country or trans-nationally. Human trafficking is a crime against the person because of the violation of the victim’s rights of movement through coercion and because of their commercial exploitation. Human trafficking is the trade in people, and does not necessarily involve the movement of the person from one place to another.

Human trafficking represented an estimated $31.6 billion of international trade per annum in 2010 . Human trafficking is thought to be one of the fastest-growing activities of trans-national criminal organizations . According to report, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. Surprisingly, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. That is, women trafficking women is the norm. Trafficking is driven by gender inequalities, social exclusion, the absence of equal opportunity and prospects for employment.

Human trafficking has affected nearly all countries around the world either as countries of origin, transit or destination. Consequently, within the last one and half decades, it has become highly imperative to combat the scourge. The United Nations Protocol against Trafficking in Persons – the foremost international agreement in this area – entered into force in 2003. Report shows that in the past few years the number of Member States seriously implementing the Protocol has more than doubled (from 54 to 125 out of the 155 states covered). However, there are still many countries that lack the necessary legal instruments or political will.

Prior to the passage of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003, amended in December 2005, Nigeria was in a state of denial and did not recognize trafficking in humans as a problem. Non-Governmental Organizations and human rights activists forced the Nigerian government to pay attention to the problem of trafficking of women to Europe that was fast gaining notoriety across the globe. Even at that, the Nigerian government only started responding to the problem in 2003. Consequently, there was no specific law prohibiting the trafficking of persons irrespective of gender.

However in 2015, President Goodluck Jonathan assented into law the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015 on 26th March, 2015. The Act primarily intends to reflect recent developments in trafficking that were not included under the repealed Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003. It also ensures that the penalties for breaching the provisions of the law are consistent with the letter and spirit of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000.

Thus, this research seeks to evaluate the issue of human trafficking in Nigeria and examine the current legal framework for combating trafficking of persons in Nigeria and discuss sanctions and punishment available for offenders.

1.2 Background of the Study

Human trafficking is not a new occurrence. Trafficking in human beings can be traced, in part, to the declining possibilities for regular migration coinciding with the emergence of a market for irregular migration services.
For several decades, human beings especially women and children have been trafficked from Nigeria mostly to countries like Cameroon, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Benin, Togo and Ghana in the West and Central African Regions, as well as to Europe and the Middle East, for various forms of exploitative labour such as domestic work, farm labour, child marriages, begging and for sexual purposes. Other factors responsible for trafficking are the desperate search for better opportunities, gender imbalance and discrimination, high levels of illiteracy, a taste for adventure, family instability, the breakdown in value systems and inadequate implementation of laws and policies against human trafficking and forced labour. The major external pull factor that has fuelled the trend is the high demand for cheap, submissive labour especially in the informal economies of the destination areas and the growth of the sex industry.

In the North-Eastern part of Nigeria, the recent armed conflict have significantly increased the number of trafficked victims in Nigeria. The kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram have also placed a spotlight on the problem of human trafficking in Nigeria. In sum, the problem of human trafficking is widespread in Nigeria. While the government has made some progress in addressing the problem, it can still do more to prevent trafficking and protect victims. The Boko Haram kidnappings only underscore this point.

1.3 Statement of the Problem

The phenomenon of human trafficking, particularly in Nigeria has assumed alarming proportion. Nigeria’s poverty coupled with high rate of unemployment, massive devaluation of the local currency and civil and political unrest, are some of the factors responsible for a high rate of migration, and this paves way for human trafficking. Within Africa, Nigeria is one of the largest single source of trafficked women to Europe and Middle East.

The spread of human trafficking and the rise of the modern-day slave trade have resulted in the subjugation, abuse, and degradation of millions of men, women and children. Human trafficking is a crime against the person because of the human rights of the victim. Additionally, such violations remain underreported and underestimated in terms of prevalence and consequences. The response to the diverse needs of victims remains insufficient. Some of the steps taken to address human trafficking in Nigeria have yielded few positive results. However, there is still much to be done in this regard.

1.4 Research Questions

This research is set to answer two research questions:

  1. What is the nature of human trafficking in Nigeria?
  2. What are the laws available for combating human trafficking in Nigeria?

1.5 Aims and Objectives

The aim of this study is to examine the legal framework for combating human trafficking in Nigeria, and its objectives are as follows:

  1. To examine the issue of human trafficking in Nigeria
  2. To discuss the causes and effects of human trafficking in Nigeria
  3. To examine the laws for combating human trafficking in Nigeria and their effectiveness
  4. To provide recommendations on the problems militating against the effectiveness of laws in combating human trafficking in Nigeria
  5. To add to the existing body of literature

1.6 Scope and limitation of the Study

This study will focus on the issue of human trafficking in Nigeria and the legal framework for combating human trafficking in Nigeria. As this is a universal problem, the study should go around the globe. However, taking into consideration the constraint of time and resources needed for this study, the study shall focus on Nigeria and some transit and destination countries. It however, will bring a clear and doubtless understanding of the matters and the issues arising.

1.7 Significance of the Study

This study is significant because its findings provide the following:

  1. To create public awareness on the issue of human trafficking in Nigeria
  2. Enumerate the laws available in combating human trafficking in Nigeria
  3. Enumerate the remedies available to trafficked persons.
  4. Contribute by way of recommendations to the development of mechanisms to combat human trafficking in Nigeria
  5. Insights to law researchers and even those in related discipline in their further research in this area

1.8 Research Methodology

The research will use the qualitative research methodology coupled with primary and secondary sources for the materials. The primary sources will include the Nigerian constitution and all other necessary laws in relations with human trafficking in Nigeria. While the secondary sources include textbooks, by foreign and Nigerian authors, journals, internet sources and cases will be used for the research.

1.9 Research Structure

This research is made up of five chapters:

  • Chapter one: provides the introduction of the study, background of the study, specify the research questions, research methodology, research structure and shall begin by providing a background of the subject matter, justifying the needs of the study.
  • Chapter two: provides a review of various related literature on human trafficking in Nigeria. It will present various authors view on the comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge about the subject matter.
  • Chapter three: This chapter will generally discuss the causes of human trafficking, the effects, and the nature.
  • Chapter four: This chapter will address the legal framework for combating human trafficking in Nigeria, i.e. the international laws, the regional laws and national laws for combating human trafficking in Nigeria.
  • Chapter five: This chapter will conclude the research work and proffer recommendations

Chapter Five

Recommendations and Conclusion

This is the concluding chapter of the study. The chapter is divided into two section, conclusion and recommendations.

  1. Nigeria should effectively implement all of the ratified international laws and regulations, in order to provide an environment conducive to the elimination of human trafficking in Nigeria. The focus must be on all forms of trafficking including trafficking in children, and not limited to trafficking for prostitution and sexual exploitation.
  2. The government should implement the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Federal Government and transit and destination countries.
  3. The government should continue regional and international cooperation between NGOs and government institutions and honor the existing bilateral agreements to uphold international human rights.
  4. An anti-trafficking watchdog committees should be created in rural areas across Nigeria. Such efforts should require the cooperation of community based organizations (CBOs) and law enforcement agents such as the Police and Immigration Departments.
  5. Funds should be provided to all anti-trafficking agencies including NAPTIP, the Police and immigration to support their actions and improve efficiency. This measure would enable NAPTIP to ensure speedy prosecution of trafficking cases.
  6. Nigerian government should harmonize the laws against trafficking at the regional level, especially between English and French speaking countries, and encourage all the countries in the region to enact laws to fight trafficking in persons where they have not done so.
  7. The adoption and implementation of the Child Rights Act of 2003 should be implemented in all States.
  8. Revise anti-trafficking measures and laws so as to address all forms of trafficking as well as the protection of trafficked persons. Replace all anti-migratory policies with policies that inform and empower citizens migrate safely.
  9. Link up local law enforcement agencies with Interpol when dealing with the more complex problems associated with human trafficking.
  10. Set up policies to create jobs for young graduates and school dropouts in Nigeria. The skill acquisition programmes of the government must be designed to meet the needs of the Nigerian people. Create resource centers for the skills acquisition of rescued trafficked persons.
  11. Develop facilities and social services for the reception, protection and reintegration of trafficked persons to prevent as much as possible the re-trafficking of the trafficked persons.
  12. Establish a community education program for the prevention of child abuse and trafficking, with children as the main actors of the program. The initiative should consist of awareness-building in schools and elsewhere.
  13. There is also the need for continous legal education to train legal officers that prosecute trafficking offences.

5.2 Conclusion

This study has reviewed the opinions of different authors concerning human trafficking in Nigeria. In this review, amidst the arguments between the different authors cited, this study agrees with the authors that stated that, women and children are especially vulnerable to human trafficking. The literature on human trafficking reveals that domestic trafficking in Nigeria also occurs on a great scale, but it goes unnoticed. Another common trend is smuggling. Many Nigerians, including women and children are smuggled into other developed countries with clear understanding of what they are going into but with the believe that they will gain in the long run. This research agrees with this point as some people offer to be trafficked to other countries or regions because of lack of employment within their locality while in some other cases, poor families give out their wards to prostitution or forced labour with the aim of profiting from the venture. Also, this research agrees with the fact that victims can be deceived or forced into trafficking. This therefore, makes the protection against human trafficking more complex. However, corruption and poor enforcement of anti-trafficking laws in Nigeria is another cause of human trafficking, as the legal framework available for combating human trafficking is sufficient.

The nature of human trafficking in Nigeria has also been discussed in this study. It has been shown that poverty, unemployment, ignorance, illiteracy, situations of armed conflict, generalized violence and cultural practices are the major drivers of human trafficking in Nigeria. It was shown that it has social impacts, psychological impacts, political and economic implications. It was shown that many of the practices associated with modern-day trafficking are clearly prohibited under international human rights law. Regrettably, the very nature of today’s conflicts means that even greater efforts need to be made on the ground, by the international community and others, to save civilians from trafficking and to help them rebuild their lives once the conflict is over. It can be said that human trafficking is a breach of human rights laws and therefore should be combated with great efforts. In addition to actively ensuring these rights to trafficking victims, other anti-trafficking policies involving criminal prosecutions and migration regulations must not compromise human rights in the process.

This study finally discussed the legal framework for combating human trafficking in Nigeria. It has been observed that Nigeria has acquired the reputation of a key player in human trafficking as internal and cross-border trafficking exists in the country cutting across all the six geo-political zones.

The Federal Government has responded to promote the eradication of human trafficking from Nigerian society. Nigeria became the first and only country in the West African Sub-region to sign, ratify and domesticate the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons especially Women and Children as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Federal Government in July 2003 also passed the Child Rights Act as a legal basis for ensuring that children are protected from any form of exploitation. There are provisions in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which provide for the protection of the liberty of individuals and respect for the dignity of persons. The Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administrative Act, 2015 was also enacted by Federal Government. However, there are problems militating against the effective enforcement of these laws which include porous border; law enforcement agencies/agents are insufficiently trained and equipped to respond adequately to the complex nature of human trafficking; victims are not adequately catered for, and traffickers are not adequately prosecuted. It is imperative to highlight the fact that the successful implementation of the new law would depend largely on the synergy developed and sustained between the two government agencies of Nigeria Immigration Service and NAPTIP.

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