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President Jonathan signs New Anti Trafficking Act into Law

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8892President Goodluck Jonathan assented to the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015 on 26th March 2015. The Act primarily intends to reflect recent developments in trafficking that were not included under the repealed Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003 (as amended in 2005). It also ensures that the penalties for breaching the provisions of the law are consistent with the letter and spirit of the Protocol to Prevent, Supress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, 2000.

Some of the provisions included in the 2015 Act include for instance the prohibition of the exploitation of persons for the purpose of harvesting their organs. This was not formerly criminalised as an offence under Nigerian law. The Act also seeks to discourage human trafficking, as it is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises[2] in the world. Therefore, the Act prescribes strict penalties to serve as a deterrent on the trade. For instance, it penalises persons who recruit, transport, transfer, harbour or receive another person by means of threat, force, abduction, fraud, deception, power or position. It also prohibits obtaining a person’s consent for the purposes of human trafficking by giving or receiving payment.   Where an offender is in breach of this provision, he is liable to imprisonment for five years.

The Act also prohibits the sale, hire, and sexual exploitation of children less than 18 years. Where a person buys, sells, hires or obtains the possession or disposal of any person knowing that it is likely that the person will be subjected to exploitation, he commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to an imprisonment term of five years and to a fine of not less than N2, 000,000.

Under the Act, trafficking of persons under the age of 18 for forced or compulsory recruitment in armed conflicts is also illegal. Where persons breach this provision, they are liable on conviction for a term of at least seven years and a fine of not less than N1,000,000.

The Act also attempts to curb the prevalent problem of child labour in Nigeria as it proscribes the employment of children below the age of 12 as domestic helpers as an offence under the law. Also, it prohibits the exploitation of children under the age of 18 who are employed domestic help.

Recognising that trafficking can only be combatted through a comprehensive and strategic policy response, the Act complements the mandate of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP), by including relevant agencies such as the Federal Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Immigration Service and National Intelligence Agency as members of its Governing body. The Act also emphasises collaboration with civil society in order to form a broad based approach in curbing human trafficking at the grass root level. It also adopts a change in nomenclature as the Chief Executive of NAPTIP is referred to as Director General rather than as an Executive Secretary, which obtained under the repealed Act of 2003. The purpose of the change in nomenclature is said to reflect the command and control structure of the Agency.

The Act has been described as a landmark achievement in Nigeria by the Director –General of NAPTIP, Mrs Beatrice Jedy-Agba,[3] for having one of the most institutional and legal frameworks for combatting trafficking and protecting the rights of all victims irrespective of their immigration status. It is also hoped that the internal cohesion among stakeholders in the fight against Trafficking in Persons will   strengthen the operation and enforcement of the Act.



[2] National Rapporteurs on Trafficking in Persons and Equivalent Mechanisms in Addressing Trafficking in Persons (NREMs): Institutional Framework-Nigeria’s Perspective, Godwin E. Morka

[3] Press Release, President Goodluck Jonathan signs new Anti-Trafficking Act