Prosecution of human trafficking in Nigeria (TIP 2023)

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The government increased law enforcement efforts, although corruption and complicity continued to contribute to impunity for trafficking crimes.  The Trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act (TIPLEAA), as amended in 2015, criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed a minimum penalty of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 250,000 naira ($568) for both sex and labor trafficking; the minimum penalty for sex trafficking involving a child was seven years’ imprisonment and a fine of 1 million naira ($2,270).  These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with regard to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as kidnapping.  

The government initiated investigations into 1,242 cases, including 511 sex trafficking cases, 282 labor trafficking cases, and 449 cases of unspecified forms of trafficking.  This compared with initiating investigations into 852 cases during the previous reporting period.  The government initiated prosecutions of 78 suspects, including 67 suspects for sex trafficking and 11 suspects for labor trafficking, and continued prosecuting 35 suspects for unspecified forms of trafficking from previous reporting periods.  This compared with prosecuting 30 suspects in the previous reporting period.  The government convicted 97 individuals, 50 for sex trafficking, six for labor trafficking, and 41 for unspecified forms of trafficking.  This compared with convicting 13 individuals in the previous reporting period.  Of those convicted, 94 were convicted under the 2015 TIPLEAA and three were convicted under violence against persons laws.  The government did not report comprehensive sentencing data, but according to media reports, sentences ranged from one to 21 years’ imprisonment.  Government data may have included crimes outside the international definition of trafficking.   

Corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action and perpetuating impunity for trafficking crimes.  The government reported investigating two officials for involvement in trafficking crimes – a member of the National Immigration Service and a member of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps.  The government reported one investigation of sexual exploitation by a government official initiated during the previous reporting period was settled out of court, and two other investigations initiated in the previous reporting period against members of the CJTF for alleged sex trafficking of IDPs are awaiting trial.  Local judges did not have the same standardized training requirements as federal and state judges, which contributed to corruption and misapplication of the law.  Some judges were unfamiliar with the anti-trafficking law, which hindered the government’s ability to hold traffickers accountable.  Despite numerous previous allegations, the government did not report investigating any CJTF members for child soldiering recruitment or use. 

The CJTF had child protection units in all sectors of its forces.  The Nigerian army trained members of the military on sexual exploitation, human rights, and disarmament and demobilization.  The government also cooperated with NGOs to train civil society and the media on trafficking issues.  The government conducted trainings, including some in partnership with international organizations, for NAPTIP officials, law enforcement, the military, prosecutors, judicial actors, immigration officials, and civil society on topics including a victim-centered approach to victim assistance, identifying trafficking victims, conducting victim-centered investigations, and shelter management.  NAPTIP’s Judicial Research Center in Abuja provided NAPTIP officers access to resources to strengthen trafficking cases and enhance prosecution efforts.  Terrorist and other illegal armed group activity hindered law enforcement and judicial officials’ actions, especially in the northeast region of the country, including Borno State.  Community defense groups played a substantial role in judicial service delivery and dispute resolution, which may have included some trafficking cases.  

The Nigerian-UK Joint Border Task Force (JBTF) carried out several international anti-trafficking operations focused on disrupting, identifying, apprehending, and prosecuting members of organized crime groups within Nigeria and abroad.  NAPTIP collaborated with German, Spanish, and Burundian authorities on several trafficking cases, including by responding to Mutual Legal Assistance Requests.  In addition, NAPTIP collaborated with governments, including those of Cambodia, Ghana, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Mali, and Senegal to repatriate trafficking victims.  The government signed bilateral agreements on anti-trafficking issues with the governments of The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Germany, India, and Spain.

from 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – U.S. Department of State

2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States Department of State

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