The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) says it will continue to ensure the safe returns and rehabilitation of trafficking persons.
The NAPTIP Director-General, Mrs Julie Okah-Donli, made this known on Monday in Abuja at the opening session of a three-day workshop on validation of protocol for identification, safe return and reintegration of victims of trafficking.
The programme was put together by the Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Nigeria (A-TIPSOM).
A-TIPSOM is a project funded by European Union and implemented by the International Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP).
Okah-Donli said that protection of the rights of victims of human trafficking should be of utmost importance to all actors involved in the rescue and return process of trafficked victims.
She said it was no longer news that victims of human trafficking were generally categorised as irregular migrants at the countries of their destination, and as such treated abnormally through their return.
According to her, the Federal Government has in 2018 took the initiative of developing a protocol for the safe return, protection and rehabilitation of victims, but there is need to validate the document as a standard one for onward action.
“Moreover, the return of victims of trafficking to their countries of origin is stipulated in Article Eight (8) of the United Nations Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
“It is in this view that Nigerian Government initiate a formal procedure for identification, safe return, rehabilitation and reintegration; this protocol elaborates the modalities for counselling and rehabilitation of rescue victims.
“The protocol also set principles and framework of cooperation by key actors for the successful and safe returns of victims as well as conditions to determine safe return,’’ she said.
Okah-Donli added that the protocol highlighted the aspect where technical cooperation was needed in terms of provision and exchange of resources, technology and personnel information among the rescue stakeholders.
Also, Mr Molina-Rafael Rios, A-TIPSOM Team Leader in Nigeria, said the validation exercise was a necessary one to ensure the document was officially and legally acceptable by all, and to maintain compliance with international standard.
Rios said that the protocol for identification, safe return and rehabilitation for victims intended to stimulate an arrangement in the destination countries.
He said that this would foster cooperation and linkages between law enforcement agencies and social services providers.
The team leader added that the document would also ensure proper care and support to victims, training and enlightenment to relevant stakeholders, and encourage mutual cooperation in the investigation of human trafficking cases.
“Service providers for victims of trafficking cut across, and they include: Caregivers, Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and representatives of selected foreign missions in Nigeria.
“This workshop will enable critical stakeholders standardise and endorse the document in line with the international best practices, and make it suit the requirement for approval by highest ruling body in Nigeria, the Federal Executive Council (FEC),’’ he said.
In his remarks, Rep. Chinyere Igwe, member, House of Representatives Committee on Human Right, promised the committee’s readiness to continue to support stakeholders at the forefront of fight against human trafficking.