15 March, 2011

Nigeria & Human Trafficking

Nigerian Immigration service has updated their equipment to decrease the rate of human trafficking. 
“I could tell when last and if you have ever travelled through our international airports in recent times, I will tell you the time and hour and the immigration officer that cleared you”.
Uzoma said the new facilities have enabled the NIS to now ensure that people no longer travel with forged documents, and that the era when people used their relatives’ passports to travel is now over. This, she explained, is because the installed machines can identify every individual and detect look-alike photographs on passports. Moreover, officers have been sensitised to the challenges of human trafficking and trained to tackle them, in order to shed the bad image which that illicit enterprise had given the country. (link
If the services work, it could cut down on human trafficking. It would help with passports that are used repeatedly. I don't know if they could track persons who travel outside the country at the same times as a group of younger girls. It seems there would be a lot of possibilities for the technology. And, if Nigeria can afford and implement it, so can many, many other countries. 

According to the 2010 TIP Report:
Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor and forced prostitution. Trafficked Nigerian women and children are recruited from rural areas within the country’s borders − women and girls for involuntary domestic servitude and forced commercial sexual exploitation, and boys for forced labor in street vending, domestic servitude, mining, and begging. Nigerian women and children are taken from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries, primarily Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana, Chad, Benin, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, and The Gambia, for the same purposes. Children from West African states like Benin, Togo, and Ghana – where Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) rules allow for easy entry – are also forced to work in Nigeria, and some are subjected to hazardous jobs in Nigeria’s granite mines. Nigerian women and girls are taken to Europe, especially to Italy and Russia, and to the Middle East and North Africa, for forced prostitution. Traffickers sometimes move their victims to Europe by caravan, forcing them to cross the desert on foot, and subjecting them to forced prostitution to repay heavy debts for travel expenses. During the reporting period, Nigerian girls were repatriated from Libya and Morocco, where they were reportedly held captive in the commercial sex trade (link)

Nigeria is a Tier 1 country which, according to the definition, means the government has acknowledged the problem and is implementing proactive measures to address the issue. Beyond the technology, training of immigration officials is vital. I need to read more on ECOWAS to see how/if the new measures above apply to travel within those countries.