Human Trafficking in Nigeria
Human trafficking in Nigeria is an issue that requires improvement. Human trafficking, commonly defined as a form of modern-day slavery, is an issue that affects individuals globally. The Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) provides global human trafficking data that governments can use to enforce laws and aid victims. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) is one of the laws that the U.S. government enforced to convict traffickers and prevent further cases.

A four-tier ranking system, included in the TIP Report, classifies the extent of government efforts in reducing human trafficking, based on the standards that the TVPA states. For example, Tier 1 ranked countries have made significant efforts in fighting human trafficking while Tier 3 ranked countries have not made any significant efforts according to TVPA standards. In 2020, the Trafficking in Persons Report noted that Nigeria has Tier 2 status, which means that it does not meet TVPA standards in fighting human trafficking but is making significant efforts. One reason why Nigeria ranks on the Tier 2 watch list is that it did not always provide protection to victims. If Nigeria continues to rank on the Tier 2 watch list, it will obtain the lowest category, Tier 3, which would result in some government foreign aid restrictions, according to the TVPA.

The Situation in Nigeria

Though Nigeria is rich with natural resources, several issues exist such as a lack of job opportunities, social injustices, exclusion and discrimination. All of these make many individuals vulnerable to human trafficking. Due to weak child protection laws and family protection services, many women and children are subject to exploitation. Traffickers most commonly smuggle these victims of human trafficking in Nigeria into foreign countries. The U.S. State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has found Nigerian trafficking victims in more than 34 countries, with most of them in Europe.

Some causes of human trafficking in Nigeria include globalization, corruption and gender inequality. Globalization results in traffickers setting up routes that allow for easier transportation and minimizes prosecution. Corruption within government allows for bribery of individuals employed in government institutions, also minimizing the prosecution of traffickers. Gender inequality is also a major issue in Nigeria. Gender inequality results in women being less educated and living in poverty more often than not. Individuals living in poverty are more susceptible to human trafficking because of the desire to escape poverty which traffickers exploit.

Preventative Measures

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) is working with the Nigerian government to establish anti-trafficking measures. NAPTIP promotes public awareness among the population to identify what human trafficking looks like and to educate about the scale of the issue. NAPTIP also enforces prosecution measures with anti-trafficking laws that criminalize the act of sex and labor trafficking. The anti-trafficking law, the Trafficking in Persons’ Law Enforcement and Administration Act (TIPLEAA), creates a penalty of imprisonment of at least two years and a charged fine. Also, non-governmental organizations that are dedicated to raising awareness campaigns and other rehabilitation and reintegration systems for aid to survivors of human trafficking in Nigeria have created several programs.

In addition to the preventative measures that the government and NAPTIP, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) joined the efforts in combating human trafficking in Nigeria. Travel by air is the main form of transportation for human trafficking, as the data that traffickers moved 20% of 225,000 victims worldwide by plane between 2003 and 2016 shows, according to the UNODC 2018 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. To decrease this number of people becoming victims of trafficking, UNODC, NAPTIP and the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) set up initiatives to inform the public of the issue and create opportunities for airline workers to stop potential traffickers. To achieve the mutual goal, in 2019, the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs provided a $400,000 grant to aid in the education of the public on human trafficking.

Additional Support

One way in which Nigeria is combating human trafficking is through an app called iReport. The Nigeria anti-trafficking agency created the iReport app in 2003. It allows its users to report and alert the local authorities about cases of human trafficking that they witness. In 2018, reports determined that the app resulted in the conviction of traffickers in 359 cases since its launch.

Human trafficking also results in long-term mental and physical health issues for victims, which the Nigerian government’s measures are also addressing. Further aid in the form of shelters and rehabilitation is available for victims. Though these measures are in place, they are not of high-quality standards, which makes them ineffective. NAPTIP shelters house both victims of human trafficking in Nigeria and other survivors of violence. These mixed shelters make it difficult to aid trafficking survivors in their own specific needs and undermine the scale of the issue. Also, shelters often have poor living conditions, according to several accounts from women and children survivors. Reform is necessary for several areas of the Nigerian government and NAPTIP to not only improve essential recovery services but also to strengthen community efforts to decrease instances of human trafficking.

– Simone Riggins
Photo: Pixabay

Human Trafficking in Tunisia
Human trafficking in Tunisia is prevalent, while also existing in several other countries. Trafficking has three parts including the act of moving an individual, manipulating an individual’s free will and using an individual for exploitation.

The Situation

Between April 2019 and February 2020, the National Authority identified 1,313 trafficking victims from among the potential victims that some government agencies referred to it along with 780 victims that the previous reporting period identified. Tunisia is a destination for human trafficking involving forced labor and forced prostitution, where traffickers coerce or manipulate individuals to work under no contract for less than minimum wage.

Trafficking is a large topic of world discussion. Most victims in Tunisia are children, women and people with disabilities. Women and young girls are the most at risk of becoming victims of trafficking in Tunisia. Traffickers force the victims into a domestic servitude partnership or involvement in criminal activities. Due to the severity of human trafficking in Tunisia, many new tactics have emerged to tackle the issue. Here are seven facts about human trafficking in Tunisia.

7 Facts About Human Trafficking in Tunisia

  1. Tunisia passed an anti-human trafficking law. In July 2019, the government of Tunisia started making procedures and guidelines for the National Authority and four other trafficking commissions to put more focus on monitoring, testing, studying, developing and tracking trafficking victims’ cases. The new law will criminalize sex and labor trafficking. Thus far, the new law has helped identify victims of human trafficking in Tunisia and push victimizers into the courtroom to undergo prosecution. The Tunisian government is also making efforts to address human labor trafficking recruitment practices. The Agency for Placement Abroad in Private Establishments (EPPA) filed 30 complaints to private employers for cases of fraud, extortion or abuses of Tunisian workers. The Tunisian government has officially requested that the Ministry of Women shut down the seven private employers that are recruiting Tunisian workers without proper EPPA registration.
  2. The National Authority created an anti-trafficking efforts website in February 2020. This online platform helps to provide education on how to stop and fight against human trafficking. This website is open to anyone who is a victim of human trafficking or has witnessed someone be a victim of human trafficking. The website includes a human trafficking hotline, education for health care professionals on red flags, shelter resources and more. To date, the website has aided trafficking victims so that they can receive medical and social support.
  3. More accountability exists for traffickers in Tunisia. Tunisia has implemented an increase in trafficking investigations. Tunisia increased its investigations in 2016 due to the passing of new legislation in July of that year. Human trafficking in Tunisia now has a punishment of 10 years in prison and a 50,000 Tunisian dinar fine, or $16,620 USD for cases with adult victims. Meanwhile, trafficking cases involving children in Tunisia are now punishable with 15 years in prison and a fine of 50,000-100,000 Tunisian dinar or $16,620-$33,230 USD. Tunisian law enforcement has worked on the implementation of several anti-trafficking laws as well.
  4. Human trafficking victims in Tunisia can receive legal assistance with protection and medical care. When Tunisia adopted legislation in August 2016, it started providing medical and social help for victims of all types of human trafficking. Tunisia is currently working on providing employment to victims as well. It has also assured rights to protection and medical services for human trafficking victims. The Ministry of Health runs hospitals in Tunis that have units with trained personnel committed to helping victims of trafficking in Tunisia. Additionally, Tunisia has dedicated 79 centers to trafficked youth in Tunisia and another three for men. These centers have provided health care to 69 foreign and local trafficking victims. Moreover, the Ministry of Social Affairs gave psychological and socio-economic assistance to 83 victims.
  5. The U.N. and Tunisia hosted workshops to aid in the fight against human trafficking. The Tunisian Ministries of Justice and Interior worked along with the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC) to hold three-day workshops called “Capacity-Building for the Fight against Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling in Tunisia.” These workshops operated from April 16, 2013, to December 31, 2018, with the purpose of addressing topics like identifying human trafficking, judicial considerations, protection and help for victims and international assistance in fighting the problem of human trafficking in Tunisia. The meetings tried to dismantle the trafficking systems by implementing new tactics. The session of meetings led to Tunisia drafting anti-trafficking legislation.
  6. National victims referral mechanisms aid in rescuing Tunisian trafficking victims. The new national victim’s referral mechanism in Tunisia is helping trafficking victims. These new centers, which work to specifically target victims of human trafficking in Tunisia, utilize national hotline systems. Tunisia has used the network to rescue over 150 victims.
  7. Governmental efforts create positive changes for trafficking operation investigations. From 2014 to 2018, the number of victims Tunisia identified increased from 59 cases to 780 cases with a significant number of those cases being foreigners. A judge ended up overseeing 31 of the cases with one case ending with a conviction. Four of the cases against human trafficking in Tunisia will now undergo criminal prosecution, while the rest require further investigation.

Looking Ahead

The Tunisian government is steadily working toward reducing human trafficking. Tunisia is making victimizers more accountable and providing victims with further protective resources, while national organizations like the U.N. are stepping in to lend a helping hand. The fight to ending human trafficking is long but Tunisia is headed in the right direction.

– Libby Keefe
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Germany
Human trafficking remains a major element of the world economy, despite the efforts of governments and international organizations to eradicate it. Traffickers traffick humans for a wide range of reasons, from forced manual labor to sexual slavery. In countries like Germany, a major European hub for immigration, human trafficking is particularly problematic. Here are five key facts to know about human trafficking in Germany.

5 Facts About Human Trafficking in Germany

  1. Sex-related Trafficking: The majority of victims of human trafficking in Germany underwent trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Furthermore, sex trafficking in Germany disproportionately affects young women, including minors. Victims of sex trafficking in Germany are most likely to originate from Romania, Bulgaria, Nigeria or Germany itself, meaning that traffickers tend to target immigrants. This is likely due to the fact that immigrants in Germany are far more likely to live in poverty than German citizens. Illegal immigrants are even more at risk, as coming forward could result in their own prosecution.
  2. Germany and E.U. Recommendations: In 2013, Germany failed to implement European Union regulations regarding human trafficking into national law. This came after a two-year effort by the E.U. to implore its member states to adopt these regulations, which included tougher sentences and better protection for victims of human trafficking. A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the government chose not to implement the E.U. recommendations because it did not extend existing jurisdiction on human trafficking to cases of sex trafficking.
  3. Germany has Received Criticism for Being too Lax on Trafficking: Non-governmental organizations have criticized Germany for not implementing strict enough laws on human trafficking. UNICEF Germany pointed out that under German law, convicting someone on the basis of forced prostitution is very difficult. Because German law places the burden of proof on the victim, traffickers can intimidate and blackmail victims so that they do not come forward.
  4. Human Trafficking in Germany and U.S. Recommendations: The U.S. government has recommended that Germany take certain steps to improve its response to human trafficking. These steps include revising the law concerning the burden of proof, because of the way it obstructs human trafficking victims from coming forward. It also recommended that Germany improve its apparatus for survivors of sex trafficking. These improvements could include better housing services on humanitarian grounds for victims. The U.S. government classifies Germany as a Tier 2 country, meaning that Germany does not entirely meet the minimum standards that the U.S. government recommends to fight human trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so.
  5. Immigration and Trafficking in Germany: Germany remains a hub for immigrants from all across Europe, Africa and Asia. As a result, Germany has a relatively strict policy regarding illegal immigrants. However, Germany’s strict laws on immigration have proven to damage the country’s efforts to counteract human trafficking. Underage immigrant sex workers who interact with German authorities often get into legal trouble for immigrating illegally, regardless of their status as a victim of human trafficking.
  6. Germany’s Success in Fighting Human Trafficking: Germany has had some major victories in its fight against human trafficking. In 2017, the German government increased victim protection efforts, as well as placing human trafficking specialists in immigration offices across the country. Additionally, the government helps to fund KOK, a German NGO that fights sex trafficking and protects migrants’ rights. The government increased KOK’s funding each year from 2016 to 2019. KOK lobbies nationally and internationally to make positive progress in its mission.

Looking Ahead

Despite Germany’s status as a standard-bearer for the E.U., it has a checkered record regarding human trafficking. While Germany’s protocols on human trafficking exceed the basic United States standards for the elimination of trafficking, there are areas in which the country could manage human trafficking better. Particularly, Germany’s large immigrant population provides a vulnerable target group for human traffickers.

– Leo Ratté
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Human Trafficking in South Sudan
The Republic of South Sudan is a nation that has continuously dealt with longstanding conflict and instability. As a result, conflict-related, sexually violent crimes throughout the country have had an unwavering presence while human trafficking in South Sudan is also prevalent. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) documented 224 cases of sexual violence affecting 133 women, 19 men, 66 girls and six boys in 2019. Past violent incidents in the country, taking place between 2014 and 2018, affected 55 women and 26 girls, according to the Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Report of the United Nations Secretary-General.

The Republic of South Sudan has yet to make significant progress in eliminating the human trafficking problem that threatens the country. This has caused the nation to remain in the Tier 3 category according to the United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons report for 2020. Countries that fall within the Tier 3 category risk possible restrictions and the loss of U.S. assistance. The following are five facts about human trafficking in South Sudan that can help motivate action, as well as raise awareness of the threats and dangers that so many throughout the country experience.

5 Facts About Human Trafficking in South Sudan

  1. Traffickers most frequently sexually exploit women in South Sudan’s capital–Juba–as well as Nimule, a city in the country that borders Uganda. Beyond this, South Sudanese women and girls are vulnerable to domestic servitude throughout the country. It is not uncommon for male occupants of the household to sexually abuse the women of the house or force them to engage in commercial sex acts.
  2. Both domestic and foreign victims are at risk of human traffickers exploiting them in South Sudan. Organized networks of traffickers cut across North, Central and East Africa and leave East African migrants and those transiting through South Sudan vulnerable to abduction, sex trafficking and forced labor.
  3. Orphaned children in South Sudan experience an increased risk of trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation. For example, unaccompanied minors in refugee camps or internally displaced children are particularly in danger of traffickers abducting them.
  4. Some factors prevent victims from reporting traffickers. Internal factors such as social stigma and fear of punishment can often discourage victims of trafficking from reporting the crimes and transgressions that traffickers committed against them to the government’s law enforcement officers.
  5. The government of the Republic of South Sudan thus far has had limited success in implementing proper strategies to address the dangers of human trafficking. Increasing the rule of law and ensuring that investigations translate into arrests and prosecutions is just one step the government must take to eliminate its trafficking problem. As the Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Report of the United Nations Secretary-General noted, “Strengthening the capacity of national rule of law institutions is critical in order to advance credible and inclusive accountability processes for past crimes, as well as for prevention and deterrence of future crimes.”

Looking Ahead

Despite persistent challenges, progress in combating the human trafficking problem in the Republic of South Sudan occurred in 2019. With support from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, over 700 officers of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces, as well as 150 SPLA-IO/RM (the pro-Riek Machar Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition) officers, received training focused on legal frameworks prohibiting the use of sexual violence. The SPLA-IO/RM also issued four command orders, with one of these orders instructing its commanders to form committees to investigate cases of sexual violence.

UNMISS continues to work with local commanders to encourage the release and referral of abducted women and children to appropriate support structures. Political advocacy is persistent and ongoing to secure the release of all female and child trafficking victims and reduce human trafficking in South Sudan.

 – Elisabeth Petry
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Lebanon
Human trafficking in Lebanon is rampant and requires reform. Someone once asked Paul, a volunteer for the Catholic Church in Beirut, Lebanon, how he knows that most female prostitutes are trafficking victims? Paul answered that when he attempted to help a trafficking victim contact an NGO, her captors assaulted him.

The Situation

Paul is just one of the many workers on the frontlines fighting against human trafficking in Lebanon. Lebanon’s government is improving its work to stop human trafficking, but Lebanon remains on Tier 2 according to the U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons report. The Tier 2 standing means that Lebanon has not met the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking.

Human traffickers target certain groups such as Syrian refugees, illegal migrants, domestic workers and women with artiste visas. Employers lure in workers and artistes under the guise of employment and then withhold their wages or passports to control them. Meanwhile, migrants and refugees come into the country with nothing leaving them open to capture. Poverty affects these targeted groups making it easier for employers and traffickers to control them. Lebanon has struggled with human trafficking because of various problems, including its past legislation and misguided judicial system.

Human Trafficking Issues in Need of Reform

  1. Lebanon’s human trafficking network is immense. The International Security Forces (ISF) and General Directorate of General Security (GDS) commented that even traffickers further down the chain of command contact more extensive organized networks. Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, and the town of Jounieh are where most human trafficking victims end up. Even though the ISF was able to identify 29 trafficking victims in 2017, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) believes the number of victims is in the thousands.
  2. The country’s laws place a significant strain on the victims because women can work as licensed prostitutes, but Lebanon’s government has not supplied licenses since the 1970s. However, after 1990, the country made secret prostitution, or prostitution without a license, illegal. Foreign women come to Lebanon to work as dancers in nightclubs under an artiste visa. The visa’s terms restrict the women to the hotels they live in and give nightclub owners power over the women allowing them to withhold their wages and passports. Traffickers also exploit these women through physical or sexual abuse.
  3. Ashraf Rifi, who served as minister of justice between 2014 and 2016, and ISF director-general from 2005 to 2013, commented that Lebanon needs to change how it combats human trafficking. Rifi went on to mention how there is corruption at high levels and even corruption within the ISF. In 2018, authorities arrested Johnny Haddad, the head of an ISF department, on charges of corruption involving prostitution networks. The organization’s ethics committee placed him under investigation. If anti-trafficking organizations’ leaders experience compromise, fighting traffickers becomes even more difficult than it was before.
  4. For trafficking victims in Lebanon, the courts frequently show no remorse. After studying 34 different trafficking cases, lawyer Ghida Frangieh concluded a double standard in the judge’s treatment concerning prostitution and begging. Forced begging cases nearly always received the label of being a trafficking case, while in the case of prostitution, the judge would frequently find there was some level of consent. The problem here is that the U.N. Convention on Human Trafficking stated that consent is irrelevant in trafficking cases because traffickers could beat or kill victims if they do not consent.

Even though Lebanon struggles with human trafficking, it is making progress in combatting these human traffickers. Lebanon has focused on improving its identification of trafficking victims and bringing shadowy trafficking networks into the light.

How Lebanon is Fighting Against Human Trafficking

  1. In 2016, Lebanon shut down Chez Maurice, the largest human trafficking network in the country. Chez Maurice held more than 75 Syrian women in a house with blacked-out windows, only allowed to leave to have abortions or receive treatment for venereal disease. The organization lured the Syrian refugees by offering them jobs, such as restaurant work, and then imprisoned them. While there, the captors sexually and psychologically abused the women. After discovering the human trafficking network, authorities took those responsible into custody, and they are currently awaiting trial.
  2. Lebanon’s government has yet to completely satisfy the minimum requirements for human trafficking’s eradication, but it is making significant strides to change that. The government increased investigations into trafficking cases and improved its ability to identify trafficking victims. For example, in 2016, the ISF only investigated 20 human trafficking cases, while in 2018, it investigated 45 cases. This change may show an improvement in identifying trafficking victims. Lebanon’s government has improved its relationships with NGOs such as Legal Agenda or Kafa, leading to more effective cooperation with screening possible victims in government-controlled migrant detention facilities.
  3. The government has done great work investigating potential human trafficking cases, but it still has room for improvement. The GDS reported 124 of 167 cases, which ended with a referral to authorities for investigation, giving back pay to workers and repatriation for migrant workers. The MOJ reported prosecutor referred about 38 cases to judges for further analysis leading to 69 alleged traffickers’ prosecutions involving different types of human trafficking. Since numerous cases have overloaded Lebanon’s judicial system, it took time to resolve these cases, but the system settled them, nonetheless.

Lebanon is steadily improving in its fight against human trafficking. Human trafficking in Lebanon is still happening, but its people continue to work towards eradicating it.

– Solomon Simpson
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in the Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands, located in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, has had its fair share of organized crime. Many in this country are in danger of human trafficking. Fortunately, the government is stepping in to address human trafficking in the Marshall Islands.

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. Victims are often swindled for labor and sexual abuse. The International Labor Organization estimates that 12.3 million people globally have been forced into involuntary labor, involuntary child labor, bonded labor and sexual subjugation.

In order to combat this, the U.S. Congress created the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to end worldwide human trafficking. A specific tool utilized is the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which evaluates the government response in countries with reputations of human trafficking. The governmental endeavors to end trafficking are the foundations for the annual country report of three tiers.

The Marshall Islands rank in Tier 3, which means they do not entirely act in accordance with the minimum guidelines for the abolishment of trafficking and there are no major efforts to accomplish this. Sex trafficking in the Marshall Islands is of particular concern, with many women of Marshallese and East Asian descent being targeted.

Recent Example

In late 2019, Paul Petersen, a public official in Arizona, was arrested for the trafficking of Marshallese women. The multi-million dollar scheme involved smuggling pregnant women into the U.S. and then profiting from their newborns.

As the owner of an adoption law firm, Petersen falsified documentation on the mothers’ residency and then charged parents in the U.S. tens of thousands of dollars for the newborns. According to Duane Kees, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Arkansas, “Many of these mothers described their ordeal as being treated like property.”

While this case is being addressed in the U.S., efforts to prevent women from being taken from the Marshall Islands are also needed. One of the difficulties of human trafficking, however, is that it often occurs internationally, making it hard to find traffickers and their victims.

Government Efforts

The Republic of the Marshall Islands’ government is taking action to eliminate human trafficking. These actions include starting their first trafficking prosecution in just under a decade while also initiating an investigation on an immigration officer for reputed trafficking collaboration. Due to increased efforts, the Marshall Islands have recently risen to Tier 2.

Efforts to address human trafficking in the Marshall Islands can be categorized as prevention, protection or prosecution. To help prevent human trafficking, the government banned unregistered visitors on foreign fishing boats in Majuro. It also required crewmen to bring their ships in by nightfall.

To protect victims of human trafficking, the government created a network of safe houses for women aged 14 to 18. Other protection services provided by the government include legal assistance, counseling and examinations for sexually transmitted diseases.

In terms of improving prosecution, the government has been establishing more specific punishments for human trafficking. The Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act criminalized labor and sex trafficking and authorized punishments of up to 15 years in prison as well as a fine of $10,000.

Moving Forward

Human trafficking in the Marshall Islands has decreased, but more work needs to be done to eliminate it completely. Moving forward, the government and other humanitarian organizations must prioritize addressing the root causes of trafficking, protecting victims and finding and prosecuting traffickers. Hopefully, human trafficking will continue to be on the decline in the coming years.

Shalman Ahmed
Photo: Flickr