- Forced Labour: This encompasses the range of activities involved when a person uses force, fraud, or coercion to exploit the labour or services of another person.
- Domestic Servitude: This is a form of forced labour in which the trafficker requires the victim to perform work in a private residence. This creates room for non-consensual exploitation since authorities cannot inspect private property like formal workplaces.
- Sex Trafficking: Sex trafficking encompasses the range of activities involved when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to compel another person to engage in commercial sex, or causes a child to engage in a commercial sex act.
- Debt Bondage: This is focused on human trafficking crimes in which the trafficker’s primary means of coercion is debt manipulation.
- Unlawful Recruitment or Use of Child Soldiers: Another manifestation of human trafficking occurs when government forces or any non-state armed group, unlawfully recruits or uses children through force, fraud, or coercion as soldiers or for labour services in conflict situations.
VICTIM PROTECTION UNDER HUMAN RIGHTS LAW IN NIGERIA
Nigeria is routinely listed as one of the countries with large numbers of trafficking victims overseas, particularly in Europe, with victims identified in more than 34 countries in 2018. This makes it important for us to consider and discuss the protection available to victims of trafficking under the Human Rights Law in Nigeria.
Human Rights refer to the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth to death. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of association and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights without discrimination.
Human trafficking is not only a violation of human rights but a crime that is against all laws. Human trafficking in Nigeria stands primarily on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended (hereinafter referred to as “the Constitution”), the Trafficking in Person (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2015 as amended and the Child Rights Act 2003.
Under the Nigerian Constitution, Chapter IV of the constitution which establishes Fundamental Human Rights provides constitutional protection against slavery and forced labour or compulsory labour, sexual exploitation and deprivation of personal liberty of Nigerians. The constitution also provides that the dignity and sanctity of human persons should be maintained and enhanced and provides that the state must ensure that children, young persons and the aged are protected against any exploitation, and against moral and material neglect. The Constitution serves as the grundnorm to which other legislations are subjected, and the provisions of this constitution are binding on everyone irrespective of age, cultural heritage and status.
The Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2015 is a special legislation that deals particularly with human trafficking under Nigerian Law. The Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2015 as amended (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”), provides a comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of human trafficking and related offences in Nigeria.
The Act establishes the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Person (NAPTIP) to protect victims of Human Trafficking. The Act also provides for human trafficking offences as the specific offences of attempts or the actual procurement, export and import of minors (with or without their consent) by means of threats, fraud or drugging, for purposes of consensual or forced defilement, seduction, prostitution, pornography, or other activities of a sexual nature within or outside Nigeria; or for trafficking of drugs or participation in armed conflict.
Also, the Act creates varying degrees of punishment for trafficking in persons ranging from monetary fines; imprisonment with or without the option of fines; forfeiture of passports of convicted offenders; seizure and/or forfeiture of assets and freezing of bank accounts of suspect or convicted offenders; deportation or repatriation of alien offenders; and liability for compensation to victims in civil proceedings.
Another protection afforded under our extant Nigerian Law is the Child Rights Act 2003. The Child Rights Act 2003 (hereinafter referred to as “CRA 2003”) sets out the rights and responsibilities of a child in Nigeria and provides for a system of child justice administration, and the care and supervision of a child amongst other things. The CRA 2003 prohibits all forms of sexual abuse, child marriage and the exposure of children to the use, production and trafficking of narcotic drugs. The CRA 2003 prescribes a punishment of 5 years imprisonment or fine of between N50,000.00 and N250,000.00 for the exploitation of children in forced labour of any kind of hazardous or exploitative activities and prohibits the use of children in criminal activities of whatever nature with a penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
The CRA 2003 prohibits the abduction, removal and transfer of children from the lawful custody of their parents or guardians, and penalizes offenders with between 10 and 20 years imprisonment, depending on the gravity of the offence involved. The CRA 2003 also prohibits the buying, selling, hiring or otherwise dealing in children for the purpose of hawking or begging for alms or prostitution or other similar practices. The CRA 2003 also prohibits the recruitment of children into the armed forces.
The Labour Act 1971, Criminal Code (applicable in the Southern States of Nigeria), Penal Code (applicable in the Northern States of Nigeria) and the Immigration Act 1963 also prohibit trafficking and prescribe punishment for any breach.