Protection against human trafficking in Nigeria (TIP 2023)

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The government increased efforts to identify victims.  The government identified 1,634 trafficking victims, including 841 sex trafficking victims, 543 labor trafficking victims, and 250 victims of unspecified forms of trafficking; compared with identifying 935 victims the previous reporting period.  Of the 841 sex trafficking victims, 763 were women, four were men; 67 were girls and seven were boys.  Of the 543 labor trafficking victims, 183 were men, 290 were women, 17 were boys, and 53 were girls.  Of the 250 victims of unspecified forms of trafficking, all were children, including 65 boys and 185 girls.  The government and government-supported NGOs provided services to all 1,634 victims.  This compared with providing services to 987 victims during the previous reporting period. 

NAPTIP finalized its Protocol for Identification, Safe Return and Rehabilitation of Trafficked Persons, which lays out formal procedures for authorities assisting victims trafficked abroad upon identification and during and after repatriation, and disseminated it to stakeholders.  In addition, the government, in partnership with civil society, continued training stakeholders on the use of the rapid assessment form to identify and refer trafficking victims to services.  The government updated its existing NRM to include, among other things guidance on gender issues, working with people with disabilities, and working with victims in conflict situations.  The NRM provided formal guidelines for law enforcement, immigration officials, and service providers to refer victims to care.  NAPTIP also adopted a disability inclusion plan to better serve victims living with disabilities, including ensuring sign language interpreters were available when needed.  The government worked in partnership with the Network of Civil Society Organizations Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labor (NACTAL) to ensure appropriate referral of victims.  Observers reported referral procedures had improved compared to previous years.  

NAPTIP’s 10 zonal commands, including the Abuja headquarters, each operated at least one victim shelter, for a total of 13 shelters for trafficking victims which served 2,743 victims during the reporting period.  NAPTIP shelters offered six weeks of initial care, although officials often allowed victims to stay longer if needed; access to the shelters was not based on victims’ cooperation with law enforcement.  The government provided access to legal, medical, and psychological services, as well as vocational training, financial empowerment, family reunification assistance, and business management skills to victims while in government shelters.  If there was not space available in NAPTIP shelters, officials referred victims to NGO shelters for care.  As of April 2023, only two organizations meet the NAPTIP standards to operate shelters.  Nigerian trafficking victims exploited abroad were able to stay in shelters upon repatriation.  NAPTIP had agreements with certain hospitals and clinics to provide additional medical and psychological treatment for victims, as needed.  Additional government and NGO shelters provided services, including long-term shelter, to vulnerable children and victims of crime, including trafficking; authorities sometimes assigned child trafficking victims to foster homes or orphanages for care.  Foreign victims had the same access to services as domestic victims.  There were reports some trafficking victims were held at NGO shelters against their will, and in a previous reporting period NGOs reported some NGO shelters had substandard conditions.  In response, NAPTIP began tightening shelter requirements, including reporting requirements, to foster improvements in delivery of care and ensure uniformity in standards of care. 

NAPTIP continued to partner with an international organization and a foreign donor to implement a screening and sensitization campaign to identify sex trafficking victims in IDP camps.  NAPTIP reached an unreported number of camps in the Kano area with screening, sensitization, or both.  Additionally, NAPTIP officials reported coordinating with the Ministry of Defense’s zonal commanders on protection issues pertaining to IDP camps by funding social workers, raising awareness of the crime among camp residents, and identifying victims.  International observers reported the government deployed officers to airports throughout the country to assist with screening for trafficking indicators.

The government increased law enforcement efforts, although corruption and complicity continued to contribute to impunity for trafficking crimes. However, due to a lack of consistent screening, authorities may have detained, arrested, and deported some unidentified trafficking victims.  Observers reported the government arrested and, in some cases, inappropriately detained for prolonged periods – reportedly for a security screening and perceived intelligence value – women and children removed from or allegedly associated with Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA), including women and girls who insurgents had forcibly married or sexually enslaved. 

After seven years, the government signed and developed an implementation plan for the handover protocol transfer children allegedly associated with armed groups to protection actors.  Authorities began implementing the protocol but did not report how many children were transferred to protection actors during the reporting period.  Additionally, the government released an unknown number of children associated with armed groups from detention in 2022.  After release from detention, the military generally referred women and children classified through a security screening process as “low risk” or “inactive” in the conflict to a government-run rehabilitation center.  Observers noted some trafficking victims – including women and children whom non-state armed groups forced to be combatants or exploited in sexual slavery – likely remained in detention and subject to criminal prosecution for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit.  The government collaborated with donors to continue the “Operation Safe Corridor” de-radicalization and rehabilitation program for combatants formerly associated with terrorist organizations.  Due to poor screening procedures, noncombatants, who may have included trafficking victims, fleeing the conflict were wrongly labeled militants and detained.  Reports alleged there were serious abuse and poor conditions in the program’s detention centers.  

The government provided victim-witness assistance for victims participating in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases by providing security, victim advocates, temporary immigration relief, and travel and lodging assistance; the government reported 60 victims participated in criminal justice proceedings and received services.  In response to the pandemic, courts sometimes used video to collect testimony and allow witnesses in other jurisdictions to give evidence in criminal trials.  Victims were able to testify in the judges’ private chambers to protect their privacy and safety.  NAPTIP, in collaboration with an international organization, the Ministry of Justice, and NGOs, ran legal hubs in Edo, Delta, and Lagos states, with the aim of enhancing victims’ access to justice through legal aid counseling and representation in court.  Several Nigerian embassies, particularly within West Africa, provided funding or in-kind support to repatriate Nigerian trafficking victims exploited abroad.  The government did not have a formal policy to prevent the removal of victims to countries where they would face hardship or retribution.  It could grant temporary residence visas to a trafficking victim who had a pending criminal, civil, or other legal action; the government did not report any foreign victims requested this relief.  The victims’ trust fund, financed primarily through confiscated assets of convicted traffickers, was available to all victims, but the government did not allocate any funds from the trust fund to victims during the reporting period.  The anti-trafficking law provided for victim restitution.  The government reported its courts had awarded restitution and that a restitution determination was made in each case during the reporting period.  Comprehensive details on restitution orders were not available, but in one case a court ordered 5 million naira ($11,360) in restitution to a victim.  Victims could also file civil suits against their traffickers.  

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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