Human Trafficking in Nigeria
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. The government demonstrated significant efforts during the reporting period by disbursing significantly more funding to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP); supporting the signing and implementation of a UN action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF); with an international organization, beginning a screening and sensitization campaign to identify and prevent sexual exploitation and abuse of IDPs; and prosecuting three suspected traffickers for child forced begging, although judges ultimately acquitted them. However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. Despite persistent and egregious reports of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses, the government made negligible efforts to address the allegations, and the military generally denied such allegations without investigation. The Nigerian military continued to conduct on-the-ground coordination with the CJTF, a non-governmental self-defense militia that recruited and used children, and which received limited financial and material support from the Borno State government. In addition, the government failed to provide evidence that use of children in support roles in detention in the Giwa Barracks had ceased. The government has never reported an investigation, prosecution, or conviction – including of any government official – for child soldiering offenses. Sexual exploitation of women and girls displaced by Boko Haram and the Islamic State-West Africa (ISIS-WA) remained widespread, including by state security, military personnel, and CJTF, some of whom forced women and girls to provide commercial sex acts in exchange for food and freedom of movement inside IDP camps and others who fraudulently recruited female IDPs for jobs outside of IDP camps but transported them to military barracks for sexual exploitation by Nigerian military personnel. The Nigerian military continued to inappropriately detain, arrest, and interrogate female and child trafficking victims for alleged association with the insurgencies and did not provide trafficking victim protections. Therefore Nigeria remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NIGERIA
Ensure the Nigerian military has ceased unlawful use of children, including in collaboration with CJTF, and investigate any reports of military personnel’s use of children; work with CJTF and the UN to implement fully the child soldier action plan to remove all children from CJTF’s ranks and, if it is not, cut provision of financial and in-kind support to CJTF; vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers – including complicit officials, those who recruit and use child soldiers and sexually exploit IDPs, and labor traffickers, including those who force children to beg – and impose sufficiently stringent sentences involving imprisonment; expand existing efforts to identify trafficking victims among IDPs, investigate cases, and implement preventative measures; release those suspected child ex-combatants and women who are inappropriately detained, screen for trafficking among those detained, and provide appropriate care; further increase funding for NAPTIP, particularly to provide adequate victim care; increase investigations into forced begging in Quranic schools; finalize the draft protocol to hand children identified in armed conflict over to civilian authorities; implement programs for the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of child ex-combatants that take into account their specific needs, and work with the Nigerian military and CJTF to implement these plans; increase training for judges on the 2015 law, specifically the provision prohibiting the issuance of fines in lieu of imprisonment; allow trafficking victims to obtain employment and move freely in and out of NAPTIP shelters; expand ongoing police and immigration training to include identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution and young females traveling with non-family members; increase the capacity of Nigerian embassies to identify and provide assistance to victims abroad, including by providing replacement travel or identity documents free of charge; and provide pre-departure information for migrants on how to find assistance if exploited abroad.