The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), has launched new tools in Abuja to ensure a standardized approach to the identification, referral and protection of victims of trafficking (VoTs).
The launch coincides with this year’s commemoration of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (WDATIP) with the theme ‘Victims’ Voices take the Lead’.
The day is established to raise awareness of the plight of victims of trafficking and promote and protect their rights. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation of vulnerable persons who, due to their worsened economic situation, were recruited for labour or sexual exploitation.
In 2018, the Walk Free Foundation estimated there were almost 1.4 million individuals living in modern slavery in Nigeria. Research also shows that two-thirds of Nigerian victims of trafficking are victims of domestic human trafficking.
The tools developed are a first step in providing a voice to the victims as it allows them to share their experiences, help service providers facilitate referral pathways and provide comprehensive protections services.
The event had in attendance, high level government stakeholders, representative of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN Resident Coordinator, members of the diplomatic community, donors, partners, stakeholders, and civil society organizations.
“This initiative will strengthen the identification process and ensure that more VoTs are referred to the right services,” said Franz Celestin, IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission.
“I believe this profiling exercise will strengthen the understanding of trafficking in persons in Nigeria and inform the development of national policies and future programming.”
Data collected from screening activities will be disaggregated by sex, age, forms of exploitation, and other relevant indicators. The aim of the identification tools is to provide first line officials with harmonized tools to effectively identify and refer victims of human trafficking in line with the National Referral Mechanism.
The process for the development of these tools commenced in November 2020 and received reviews from relevant stakeholders to ensure that the tools are comprehensive and stand the test of time.
Following the launch, the tools will be piloted in Edo, Lagos, and Delta states where NAPTIP officials will be trained on how to use them.
Additionally, screening and reporting tools will be rolled out along the Nigerian border at points of entry and exit.
“Victims of human trafficking need to be protected to ensure they live a life of integrity devoid of any form of dehumanization and degrading treatment” said NAPTIP Director General Sen. Basheer Garba Mohammed.
Since 2017, IOM Nigeria has provided support to 21,771 returnees of which 2,302 are Victims of Trafficking (VOTs).
The long-term goal is to ensure these tools are integrated into an information management system (IMS) that all stakeholders can easily access. The IMS system will strengthen recording, analyzing, and reporting of data and improve accessibility of real time data by all stakeholders.
The project “Strengthening Direct Assistance to VoTs in Nigeria Through a Victim-Centered Approach is funded by the UK Home Office.