The annual event commemorating the World Day against Trafficking in Persons is held on 30th July each year. According to the United Nations, this year’s theme is:“Use and abuse of technology by human traffickers”. To mark this special day, we wish to join the entire world to commend individuals and organizations that have been actively involved in identifying, supporting, counselling and seeking justice for survivors of trafficking. Those who have been working hard to protect the vulnerable, especially women and children, who challenge the impunity of traffickers and their accomplices are worthy of special recognition on this special Day.
This year’s theme exposes how traffickers exploit technology to perpetrate their illegitimate trade. They employ the internet and digital platforms to deceive, exploit and manipulate victims of trafficking. They deploy these platforms to organize transportation and shelter, contact victims and reach out to potential clients while establishing intractable networks for the proliferation of their criminal trade. Technology has been exploited among other things to communicate with a ring of other perpetrators and hide criminal proceeds with greater speed, effectiveness, and anonymity.
Traffickers now use social media platforms to identify, attract, train and recruit accomplices in the ignoble art of human trafficking. They employ e-mails and other digital messaging services to communicate with potential victims and advertise their trades to unsuspecting persons, including children while using photographic materials, promises of fake employment and so on.
Human trafficking remains a global crime and Nigeria, being an origin, transit, and destination country, has not been left out of the cycle. Many Survivors’ have shared stories of pain and agony suffered as a result of this terrible act espousing man’s inhumanity against fellow men. Traffickers have continued to hold their victims in perpetual bondage, subjecting them to mental abuse, torture, degradation and untold physical, emotional and psychological hardship through the use of technology, such include video recording and keeping picture of victims’ nudes.
The downsides notwithstanding, in technology deployment also lies great opportunities for success in eradicating human trafficking. Successfully combating HT in the near future will depend on how law enforcement agencies such as NATIP, the Police, the criminal justice system and others can leverage technology in their interventions. This, without doubt includes deploying technology to aid investigations and shed more light on the modus operandi of trafficking networks; enhancing effective prosecutions through digital evidence to alleviate the sufferings of survivors during criminal proceedings, as well as providing support services to survivors. We therefore wish to call on tech-based organizations, service providers and tele-communication companies to ensure to put measures and restrictions in place to prevent the misuse of technological platforms as tools for trafficking. The government should also step in as a regulator of the tech industry to make laws that prohibit the misuse of technology to promote human trafficking.
Today, as an organization working to protect the rights of Nigerians particularly women and children, HDI Nigeria reinforces our determination and commitment to combating all forms of exploitation as far as human trafficking and other allied anti-human ventures are concerned. These include: sexual slavery and exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude, forced marriage, sale and purchase of persons, organ harvesting among others. On account of this day, we wish to CALL on Government Agencies, Civil Society Organisations, the organized Private Sector, Parents, Guardians, Establishments, NGO’s, faith-based Organisations, religious leaders, traditional rulers, tech-based organizations, service providers and tele-communication companies alike to join forces, raise their voices, create awareness and act to protect the vulnerable; report exploitation and slavery-like activities. As the saying goes, “say something, when you see something.” All hands must be on deck to fight against modern-day slavery which is human trafficking. We appeal to all concerned stakeholders to join hands as we do our very best to protect the rights of all Nigerians (who are potential victims) and contribute our quota to protecting survivors, prevent stigmatization, ensure access to justice, to health care and prevent further abuse and exploitation of survivors of trafficking.
Human Development Initiatives.