The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) have launched new tools to ensure a standardized approach to the identification, referral and protection of Victims of Trafficking (VoTs).
The launch in Abuja, coincides with this year’s commemoration of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, (WDATIP) with the theme “’Victims Voices take the Lead’.
According to a statement on Tuesday by IOM, WDATIP was established to raise awareness of the plight of victims of trafficking and promote and protect their rights.
The statement lamented that COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation of vulnerable persons who, due to their worsened economic situation, were recruited for labor or sexual exploitation.
The statement showed that 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.
According to the statement 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 organisations.
IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission, Franz Celestin was quoted to have said that:
“This initiative will strengthen the identification process and ensure that more VoTs are referred to the right services,” while adding that he believes that “this profiling exercise will strengthen the understanding of Trafficking in Persons in Nigeria and inform the development of national policies and future programming.”
With the tools 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 the tools commenced in November 2020 and received reviews from relevant stakeholders to ensure that the tools are comprehensive and stand the test of time.
The statement revealed that 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.
Speaking on the latest intervention, NAPTIP Director General, Sen. Basheer Garba Mohammed, said: “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.”
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.
Since 2017, IOM Nigeria has provided support to 21,771 returnees of which 2,302 are Victims of Trafficking (VOTs).