NAPTIP Recommends Stiffer Penalties As Check To Human Trafficking

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In the face of the manifold achievements recorded by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Agency believes that if human trafficking offenders and perpetrators of Sexual and Gender Based Violence serve corresponding jail sentences, there would definitely be a massive drop in the crime rate.

The Director General of NAPTIP, Dr. Fatima Waziri- Azi, stated this in Abuja while delivering lecture titled, “Human Trafficking: An Appraisal of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015: Challenges and Prospect”, at a 2-Day Capacity Building Workshop of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJN) in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute (NJI).

She lamented cases whereby offenders were prosecuted in times past only for them to commit same or more heinous crimes ostensibly because the earlier sentences weren’t commensurate with the weight of the offences committed.

It is with a view to addressing this ugly narrative that she is calling on Judges across the Country to ensure that appropriate penalties are meted out to criminals to serve as major restraint.

The Director General reminded Judges of their indispensable roles in the eradication of human trafficking, curtailing of incidence of rape and minimizing the rising cases of sexual and gender based violence in the Country.

She highlighted the importance of being adequately acquitted with the provisions of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015 (TIPPEA) because ‘The aim of the Act as stated in section 1 is to provide an effective and comprehensive legal and institutional frame work for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of human trafficking and related offences in Nigeria, protect victims of human trafficking; and promote and facilitate national and international cooperation’

“I am pleading with you all my Lords, the Judges to always consider the stiffer penalties and convictions that are commensurable with the magnitude of crime. This is very important as it serves as deterrent and it will assuage the trauma of the victims,’ the NAPTIP Director General requested.

She identified low reportage, the relationship between suspects and victims, lack of cooperation from the source/vulnerable communities, difficulty of procuring witnesses from remote areas, unavailability of Lawyers to take up civil cases on behalf of victims on Pro-Bono basis, thus making it difficult for victims to get compensation from their traffickers as some of the challenges militating against the fight against Human Trafficking, Smuggling Of Migrants and SGBV in the country.

“Despite the challenges above, the Agency has convicted a total of 519 traffickers, rescued and counselled 17, 727 victims, sponsored 17 victims to higher institution out of which 3 were employed in the service of the Agency, established 20 State Task Forces across the Country and increased partnership with diver stakeholders with a reloaded advocacy and sensitization.”

Earlier in his speech, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, CFR, said Sexual and Gender Based Violence against women are severe human right violations that must be addressed with all the seriousness it deserves, adding that the roles of female judges in the adjudication of gender base issues cannot be over emphasized.

At the first technical session chaired by the Hon. Justice Amina Augie, Justice of the Supreme Court, the female judges were particularly angered that while victims of human trafficking and other abuses are left in a pitiable traumatic state and nursing their wounds inflicted upon them by heartless traffickers having been exploited, the traffickers are often pampered erroneously or unintentionally with light sentences.

They resolved that efforts should be made by presiding judges to consider the plight and exploitation of victims in deciding the cases of human trafficking and domestic violence thereby overlooking some of the salient technicalities which often deny them adequate justice.

While commending the Director General of NAPTIP for her tireless efforts in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria, the female Judges called for synergy among Law Enforcement Agencies in the Country as well as advocacy and awareness in order to reduce the vulnerability of the people and get the Judges properly informed on all emerging counter trafficking legal frameworks.

The Workshop was attended by Female Judges, Prosecutors, Development partners including the Action Against Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants (A-TIPSOM) and other stakeholders across the Country.

 

 

 




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