The renewed efforts by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to curtail incidences of human trafficking in the country has received a major boost as the United States of America (USA) has thrown its weight behind the activities of the Agency in order to improve its effectiveness as a model of specialized crime fighting Agency in Africa.
The USA also commended the Agency for the number of convictions it has secured since its inception which stands at 331 as at September, 2017, adding that such a feat was laudable bearing in mind the technicalities associated with prosecution of cases such as human trafficking.
Acting Director of Trafficking in Persons Office, Washington, Ms. Kari JohnStone, gave the commendation during a visit to the NAPTIP Headquarters, Abuja.
It would be recalled that Nigeria was recently downgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 2 Watch list in the United States ranking of countries compliance to the minimum standards in the fight against Trafficking in Persons.
Addressing the Management of the Agency today, during an interactive session as part of her official visit to Nigeria, Ms. Johnstone who was visibly impressed with the achievements of the Agency in the areas of Policy formulation, Prevention, Partnership, Prosecution and Protection of victims of human trafficking , disclosed that the said TIP report was not an appraisal of activities of NAPTIP, but an aggregate assessment of responses by other parties including the government of Nigeria on issues of human trafficking.
According to her, other variable that constituted the assessment include the controversial issue of child soldiers in the North as well as the situation in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in some parts of the country.
The visiting US Official disclosed that the US Trafficking in Persons Report is not an indictment of NAPTIP but to spur policy makers, government and non-governmental actors to accord NAPTIP the desired attention in the areas of policy implementation and improved budgetary allocation in order to scale up its performance.
She expressed satisfaction with the provisions of the re-enacted 2015 Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Enforcement Act which made provision for compensation for victims of human trafficking as well as stringent punishment for convicted offenders.
While promising that the United States will consider possible assistance to the Agency in the areas of awareness creation, capacity development of Officers as well as other operational needs, the US TIP Director urged NAPTIP not to be discouraged by the TIP rating, adding that she was in Nigeria to have a first- hand information on issues of human trafficking.
In his response, the Representative of the Director – General, Mr. Arinze Orakwue, commended the US TIP Official for the visit and advocated that NAPTIP should be rated only on its mandate rather than other areas which require the attention of other arms or Agencies of government. He added that the Agency has remained a unique model not only to the African region, but the entire world in the area of combating human trafficking.
Mr. Orakwue called on the United States and other international partners to come out with policies that would ensure that other neighbouring countries increase surveillance in form of security checks along the controversial migration routes especially within the North Africa countries so as to complement the efforts of Nigeria in combating human trafficking and reduce the associated tragedies.
He also urged the United States to consider providing some intervention to the Agency in all areas of its operations with special attention on awareness creation and capacity development of operatives of the Agency.
For: Head, Press and Public Relations Unit
20th, October, 2017