NASS WANTS 10-YEAR JAIL TERM FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKERS


The National Assembly on Monday prescribed a minimum of 10 years imprisonment for persons convicted of human trafficking in addition to paying fines.
This position was canvassed in Abuja on Monday at the opening of a joint public hearing on a Bill for an Act to repeal the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003.
The Chairman, House Committee on Human Rights, Rep. Beni Lar (PDP-Plateau), said that fines alone were no longer an option for persons convicted of trafficking. 
Lar said: ``NAPTIP estimates that eight million Nigerian children are engaged in exploitative child labour, hence the need to provide legal and institutional support for the agency."
She highlighted four of the bill's key amendments to include: ``NAPTIP would no longer have to rely solely on government for funding.
``The bill provides for greater integration of counter trafficking strategies by including a wider range of state security agencies and CSOs.
``It broadens the definition of trafficking by including activities such as the procurement or recruitment of any person for organ harvesting."
The chairman also said the bill would provide a parental verification clause to make parents/guardians criminally liable if they failed to verify where their children/wards were being taken to.
According to her, human trafficking is a multi-faceted problem which violates fundamental human rights, increases global health risks, contributes to transnational organised crime and undermines security and stability.
She expressed regrets that in spite of concerted efforts, Nigeria had remained a source, transit and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
``In frightening numbers, Nigerian women and girls are taken to other African countries, Europe, the Middle East and Asia where they are exploited for domestic servitude and forced prostitution.
``UNODC's 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in persons noted that Nigerian victims were detected in 16 countries in Western and Central Europe where they accounted for 11 per cent of all victims detected.
``Nigerian boys are often trafficked for purposes of street vending, domestic service, mining, stone quarries, agriculture and begging."
She renewed the commitment of the committee to ensuring that the bill was passed expeditiously.
Declaring the public hearing opened, the Senate President, Mr David Mark, noted the need for stakeholders to focus more on awareness, education, prevention, rescue and restoration campaign.
Mark, who was represented by Sen. Abu Ibrahim (CPC-Katsina), expressed regrets that human traffickers had continuously changed their tactics and devised new means of carrying out their nefarious acts.
``They have found new ways in their unrelenting efforts to neutralise the measures put in place by the government and other partners.
``This review is, therefore, imperative to make the law more responsive and proactive to counter emerging trends in human trafficking."
He said that it was debilitating and traumatic for persons to be stripped of their dignity and forced to work under extreme labour conditions for little or no pay.
Sen. Umaru Dahiru (PDP-Sokoto), Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters had earlier said that trafficking in persons was a threat to national security.
He said: ``trafficking in persons denigrates human dignity and our collective common value system and norms.
``Today's gathering provides an opportunity for stakeholders to speak in one voice in the fight against the menace of trafficking in persons by contributing towards strengthening the legislation."
The chairman said it was as a result of the NASS's commitment to putting an end to the menace of human trafficking that a punitive regime was introduced into the proposed law.
He expressed optimism that the bill would enjoy speedy passage. (NAN)


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