The Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dame Julie Okah-Donli have called upon the tour operators, travel agents and airline operators to note their responsibilities as spelt out under Section 35 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administrative (TIPPEA)Act 2015, which regulates the activities of tour operators and travel agents with respect to curbing the crime of human trafficking.
The NAPTIP boss, who was represented by the Director, Legal and Prosecution Department of the Agency, Mr. Abdulrahim Opotu Shaibu made this known at the sensitization workshop organised by NAPTIP in Lagos to inform travel agents, tour operators and airline operators of their responsibilities in combating human trafficking, which include sensitizing their clients and staff, not aiding human trafficking activities, and including a clause in their contract agreement which stipulates that the travelers they issue tickets to, or arrange tours for shall not be exploited at their places of destination.
She further informed them that the penalty for aiding and abetting a human trafficker, intentionally or unintentionally upon conviction is jail term and a fine of not more than ten million naira. According to her, “tour operators and travel agents cannot afford to passively sit by while human trafficking is promoted through their means of livelihood”, and she enjoined them to “recognize signs of trafficking and possible exploitation and how to report such cases to the Agency”.
Dame Julie Okah-Donli opined that tour Operators and travel Agents represent the gateways in and out of the country; therefore they play a unique role in protecting would-be victims of human trafficking and identify traffickers who travel with them. She therefore encouraged them to partner with government agencies, especially those who are front line responders, such as NAPTIP, as well as non-profit organizations to stop human trafficking and to help survivors rebuild their lives.
In his remarks, the representative of the Murtala Mohhamed Airport Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Mr. Nsikak-Abasi Udoh, lauded NAPTIP for their doggedness in the fight against human trafficking. He praised the tenacity of the Director-General in bringing human trafficking issues to the consciousness of Nigerian with the massive awareness campaigns embarked upon by the Agency across the country.
In his presentation, the Zonal Commander, NAPTIP Lagos Zonal Command, Mr. Joseph Famakin stressed the importance of partnership in fighting human trafficking as the job of combating trafficking in persons is far too tasking and important to be left in the hands of the Agency alone, and security is every body’s business.
The Director of Public Enlightenment, Mr. Arinze Orakwue in his address assured the participants that it is not the intention of NAPTIP to shut down their operations or have them arrested, rather to educate them on what the law says and get them onboard as the Agency’s partner in progress to ensure that travelers who enlist their services either as tour operators or travel agents do not end up as victims of human trafficking at their destination countries.