Nigeria has the unenviable reputation of being among global leaders in the infamous trafficking in humans. Consequently, the Obasanjo administration that came into power in 1999 ratified the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons in 2001 and further enacted the “NAPTIP Act 2003” as the national framework for combating the crime. In spite of these initiatives, human trafficking remains a critical problem in Nigeria.
Extant studies attributed the phenomenon to such factors as corruption, adversarial criminal justice system and poor funding among others. There has been little attempt at systematization of data on the role of the state in combating the obnoxious trade. This study therefore focused on the examination of the State and the Control of trans-border Human Trafficking in Nigeria between 2003 and 2012. Its specific objectives were to: (i) Determine whether the enactment of the NAPTIP Act 2003 failed to reduce the Incidence of trans-border human trafficking in Nigeria between 2003 and 2012; (ii) Ascertain whether the victim care policy of NAPTIP enhanced rehabilitation of victims between 2003 and 2012; and (iii) Establish whether lapses in interagency coordination hampered the prosecution of transborder
human trafficking crimes between 2003 and 2012. The study adopted the ex-post-facto research design, made use of secondary data, and anchored analysis on the Marxian theory of the state. It then found that the establishment of NAPTIP has not substantially reduced the incidence of human trafficking in Nigeria, that its victim care policy did not adequately catered for the rehabilitation of victims during the period, and that lapses in interagency coordination hampered the prosecution of human trafficking suspects between 2003 and 2012. It then recommended among others the establishment of an International Human Trafficking Court (IHTC) to try perpetrators of human trafficking as it is clearly a crime against humanity.
1.1 Background to the Study
When the word slavery is mentioned people often think of shackles, plantations, ships and Africa. That type of slavery happened over 200 years ago and has since been replaced by a form called modern day slavery. “Two hundred years after the end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, we have the obligation to
fight a crime that has no place in the 21st century” (UNODC.org cited in Ola, 2009: 1).
Trafficking in human beings is a process, with people being abducted or recruited in the country of origin, transferred through transit regions and then exploited in the country of destination (Touzenis, Kristina, 2010)). Historically it has taken many forms, but in the context of globalization, has acquired shocking new dimensions. According to UNESCO (2006), the current form of globalization has occasioned an upsurge in human trafficking, resulting in a “complex, multi-faceted phenomenon involving multiple stakeholders at the institutional and commercial level”. It is a demand-driven global business with a huge market for cheap labour and commercial sex confronting often insufficient or unexercised policy frameworks or trained personnel to prevent it.
Nigeria has acquired a reputation for being one of the leading African countries in human trafficking with trans-border and internal trafficking. Trafficking of persons is the third largest crime after economic fraud and the drug trade. Decades of military regimes in Nigeria have led to the institutionalized violation of human rights and severe political, social and economic crises. In addition, the oil boom in the 1970s created opportunities for migration both inside and outside of the country. This created avenues for exploitation, for international trafficking in women and children, for forced labor and for prostitution (UNESCO, 2006).
According to the UNESCO report:
that Nigeria is a country of origin, transit and destination for human trafficking and that there is also evidence of internal trafficking. Destinations for trafficked Nigerians include the neighboring West African countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon and Guinea), European countries (Italy, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom), North Africa (Libya, Algeria and Morocco) and Middle Eastern countries (Saudi Arabia) (UNESCO, 2006: 12).
Primarily women and girls, but also boys are trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labour and organ harvesting. Poverty is the principle driving force behind this trade, propelling vulnerable people into the hands of traffickers, who belong to both small-scale, local enterprises with extensive criminal networks and to large scale multi-commodity businesses.
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