NIGERIA: Tier 2
Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Nigerian trafficking victims are recruited from rural and, to a lesser extent, urban areas: women and girls for domestic servitude and sex trafficking and boys for forced labor in street vending, domestic service, mining, stone quarrying, agriculture, textile manufacturing, and begging. Young boys in Koranic schools, commonly known as “Almajiri children,” are subjected to forced begging. Nigerian women and children are taken from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries, as well as to South Africa, where they are exploited for the same purposes. Nigerian women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking throughout Europe. Nigerian women and children are also recruited and transported to destinations in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, where they are held captive in the commercial sex industry or forced labor. Women from other countries in West Africa transit Nigeria to destinations in Europe and the Middle East, where they are subjected to forced prostitution. Children from other West African countries are subjected to forced labor in Nigeria, including in granite and gold mines. Nigeria is a transit point for children from other countries in West Africa, who are then subjected to forced labor in Cameroon and Gabon. Various NGOs continued to report that children in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in northeast Nigeria were victims of labor and sex trafficking.
During the reporting period, Boko Haram continued to forcibly recruit and use child soldiers as young as 12 years old and abduct women and girls in the northern region of Nigeria, some of whom it subjected to domestic servitude, forced labor, and sex slavery through forced marriages to its militants. NGOs and international observers also reported civilian vigilante groups, often identified as the Civilian Joint Taskforce (CJTF), recruited and used child soldiers, sometimes by force. Although the government prohibited the recruitment and use of child soldiers, government security forces conducted on-the-ground coordination with CJTF during the reporting period. The Borno State government continued to provide financial and in-kind resources to some members of CJTF, which was also at times aligned with the Nigerian military in operations against Boko Haram.
The Government of Nigeria does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government sustained strong anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts by investigating, prosecuting, and convicting numerous traffickers; by collaborating with 11 countries on international investigations; and by providing extensive specialized anti-trafficking training to officials from various government ministries and agencies. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) received a larger operating budget, identified and provided services to a large number of victims, and continued extensive awareness campaigns throughout the country. During the reporting period, the Borno State government provided financial and in-kind resources to some members of CJTF; CJTF recruited and used child soldiers. Additionally, despite a 2015 amendment that removed judges’ ability to sentence traffickers to fines in lieu of prison time, Nigerian courts penalized two traffickers with fines alone and gave another three the option to pay a fine in lieu of serving time in prison.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NIGERIA:
Cease provision of financial and in-kind support to groups recruiting and using children; investigate and prosecute all individuals suspected of recruiting and using child soldiers and allegedly perpetrating other trafficking abuses against women and children; continue to vigorously pursue trafficking investigations, prosecutions, and adequate sentences for convicted traffickers; take proactive measures to investigate and prosecute government officials suspected of trafficking-related corruption and complicity in trafficking offenses; ensure the activities of NAPTIP receive sufficient funding, particularly for prosecuting traffickers and providing adequate care for victims; implement programs for the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former child combatants that take into account the specific needs of child ex-combatants; continue to provide regular training to police and immigration officials to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution and young females traveling with non-family members; fully integrate anti-trafficking responsibilities into the work of the Nigerian police force and the Ministry of Labor; and continue to increase the capacity of Nigerian embassies to identify and provide assistance to victims abroad, including through regular and specialized training for diplomatic and consular personnel.
The government maintained strong anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. In 2015, the government passed amendments to the 2003 Trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act, which increased the penalties for trafficking offenders. The law prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes a minimum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a minimum fine of one million naira ($5,470) for sex and labor trafficking offenses; the minimum penalty for sex trafficking increases to seven years’ imprisonment if the case involves a child. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with other serious crimes, such as rape.
NAPTIP conducted 507 trafficking investigations, completed at least 32 prosecutions, and secured 24 convictions during the reporting period, compared with 509 investigations, 56 prosecutions, and 30 convictions in the previous reporting period. The decrease in convictions is likely a result of the seconding of many judges to electoral tribunals during the reporting period. An additional 148 prosecutions remained pending at the end of the reporting period. All prosecutions occurred under the anti-trafficking law, and prison sentences upon conviction ranged from three months’ to 14 years’ imprisonment. Of the 24 convictions, 16 resulted in imprisonment without the option of paying a fine. However, despite a 2015 amendment that removed judges’ ability to sentence traffickers to fines in lieu of prison time, Nigerian courts penalized five traffickers with only fines. The government also collaborated with law enforcement agencies from Belgium, Burkina Faso, Finland, France, Germany, Mali, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States on 43 investigations involving Nigerian nationals during the reporting period. The government commenced prosecution of a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official who allegedly used his or her position to facilitate a trafficking crime abroad; the prosecution remained ongoing at the close of the reporting period. The government did not report any other investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses; however, corruption at all levels of the government remained a pervasive problem.
The government conducted extensive training throughout the reporting period. NAPTIP, in collaboration with international partners, provided specialized training to approximately 228 government employees, including judges, prosecutors, and officials from NAPTIP, the Nigerian police force, and the Nigerian Immigration Service. These programs offered specialized training on victim identification, investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, counseling, intelligence collection, and monitoring and evaluation. NAPTIP officials assisted 18 countries with their anti-trafficking efforts through training courses, joint intelligence sharing, and mutual legal assistance.
The government maintained strong efforts to protect trafficking victims. The government identified 943 trafficking victims, including 429 victims of sex trafficking and 514 of labor trafficking, compared with 914 victims identified in the previous reporting period. NAPTIP provided initial screening and assistance for all victims it identified and referred them to government-run care facilities for further medical care, vocational training, education, and shelter. The government has formal written procedures to guide law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel in proactive identification of trafficking victims among high-risk populations. NAPTIP provided police, immigration, and social services personnel with specialized training on how to identify trafficking victims and direct them to NAPTIP. Additionally, the government’s national referral mechanism provides formal guidelines for law enforcement, immigration officials, and service providers to improve protection and assistance to trafficking victims, both within Nigeria and abroad.
In 2015, the government allocated approximately 2.5 billion naira ($13 million) to NAPTIP, which spent roughly 581 million naira ($3 million) on victim protection and assistance during the reporting period. NAPTIP operated nine shelters specifically for trafficking victims, with a total capacity of 313 victims. Through these shelters, NAPTIP provided access to legal, medical, and psychological services, as well as vocational training, trade and financial empowerment, and business management skills. Victims who required additional medical and psychological treatment were provided services by hospitals and clinics through existing agreements with NAPTIP. NAPTIP shelters offered short-term care, generally limiting victims’ stays to six weeks, although victims were allowed to extend their stays under special circumstances. If victims needed longer-term care, NAPTIP collaborated with two shelters operated by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and NGO-run shelters. Victims in NAPTIP shelters were not allowed to leave unless accompanied by a chaperone. NAPTIP provided funding, in-kind donations, and services to NGOs and other organizations that afforded protective services to trafficking victims.
Per provisions of the anti-trafficking law, Nigerian authorities ensured identified trafficking victims were not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking. However, in some instances, NAPTIP authorities deemed adults in prostitution, who claimed to be working voluntarily, victims of trafficking and detained them in shelter facilities against their will. Officials encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, and NAPTIP reported 33 victims served as witnesses or gave evidence during trial in the reporting period. Trafficking victims were guaranteed temporary residence visas during any criminal, civil or other legal action. All victims were eligible to receive funds from the victims’ trust fund, which was financed primarily through confiscated assets of convicted traffickers. During the reporting period, the government disbursed 5.4 million naira ($32,700) among 25 victims for various purposes, including vocational training and school tuition, although not necessarily in equal amounts.
The government sustained efforts to prevent human trafficking. NAPTIP continued to conduct extensive national and local programming through radio and print media in all regions to raise awareness about trafficking, including warning about fraudulent recruitment for jobs abroad. NAPTIP also carried out advocacy visits to five primary and secondary schools in six states deemed to have a particularly high trafficking incidence, sensitizing over 10,000 students; NAPTIP also educated transportation carriers in these six states on their responsibility to prevent trafficking and smuggling. The inter-ministerial committee on trafficking met 15 times during the reporting period, continued to implement the national action plan, and released its first annual report. The Ministry of Labor and Productivity continued to implement the national policy and action plan on labor migration and manage the licensing requirement for all private labor recruitment agencies. The government did not make any discernible efforts to decrease the demand for commercial sex acts. The Borno State government also warned that the recruitment and use of child soldiers was prohibited; however, state government support for some members of the CJTF continued. The government provided anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel and, with foreign donor support, to Nigerian troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.