Countries under the European Union have been urged to always carry out diligent screening of illegal migrants in their countries before repatriation in order to ensure that rescued victims of human trafficking do not suffer untold hardship in Europe.
The Acting Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Alhaji Abdulrazak Dangiri made the call in Abuja on Thursday while playing host to a delegation from the European Union member States who were at the Office to share ideas on issues of migration between Nigeria and Europe.
According to him, the Protocol to suppress and punish trafficking in persons which supplements the United Nations Convention on Organised Crimes recommends protection and assistance to victims of human trafficking across the globe by member States irrespective of their immigration status.
“Victims of human trafficking are not criminals. Therefore, there is the need to provide what is called customized rehabilitation package for them so that they are not vulnerable to being re-trafficked after they returned to their home countries’’ he stated.
The NAPTIP boss who lamented the alarming rate of illegal Nigerian migrants in Europe which the delegation put at 30, 000 in 2015 as against 25, 000 in 2014, told the delegation that the Agency would require a comprehensive analysis of the figures with a view to knowing those that are victims of human trafficking so as to be able to attend to them in line with the global standards and best practices.
While calling for a joint intelligence and information sharing on issues relating to human trafficking as a precursor to combating the scourge properly, the Acting Director- General expressed the readiness of the Agency to collaboration with the visiting delegation and other countries where Nigerian Victims are to ensure the wellbeing of such victims and the prosecution of traffickers.
Other issues raised at the meeting included the need to actively involve NAPTIP in the reintegration programme of the foreign partners; the need for effective criminal justice system that would ensure the repatriation of human trafficking suspects abroad to face prosecution at home; as well as the capacity development for Officers of the Agency and its collaborating stakeholders.
Earlier, Head of the delegation, Winiarska Helena, had informed the NAPTIP Acting Director – General that the team was in Nigeria in line with the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility Cooperation reached by Nigeria and member States of the European Union in March, 2015.
She revealed that the European Union was particularly concerned with the influx of illegal migrants which now constitute both social and security threat to the region.
The EU Head of delegation also spoke of the urgent need to address the root causes of illegal migration by various countries in order to forestall its attendant consequences and casualties, bearing in mind that due to the present improvement in climatic feasibility especially around the Mediterranean route, the number of illegal migrants is expected to peak within the next few months.
She however, added that one of the reasons for the meeting was to create a framework of implementation of the Common Agenda on Migration so as to improve International Cooperation with the Agency.
The delegation assured the Agency of support especially in the areas of rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking and information sharing.
The meeting afforded the visiting partners the opportunity of knowing the rehabilitation strategies of the Agency and its relationship with some of the stakeholders which include the Non Governmental Organization and other State actors.
The meeting also had some members of the Civil Society Organisations dealing with issues of human trafficking in attendance. They include: WOTCLEF and NACTAL.
For: Head, Press and Public Relations (NAPTIP)
10th March, 2016