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2021 Trafficking In Persons Report: What Nigeria’s Upward Ranking Implies

Nigeria’s efforts earned an elevated status within the tier ranking, but the country remains on the Child Soldier Protection Act list, a sign that more needs to be done.

With Nigeria’s elevated ranking from a tier two watch list status to a tier two status on the United States 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, there are some implications in respect of Nigeria’s diplomatic relation with the United states.

As a requirement by The Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2020 (TVPA), for any country to be placed in any of the four tiers category, the government must have shown calculated efforts to meet the TVPA’s minimum standard in elimination of human trafficking which forms the basis on the category each country is placed.

Nigeria’s elevation from tier two watch list to a proper tier two status is an indication that the Nigerian government is making significant efforts to meet up with the TIP standards.

Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Senator Basheer Garba Muhammed said while commenting on the TIP tier ranking that, “the Agency is presently studying the report with a view to identifying areas of improvement and scale up the activities of the Agency.”

Muhammed also scored the agency high in commendation of their synergy and relentless efforts. He promised “the agency would improve synergy and collaboration with stakeholders and partners in order to completely make Nigeria a trafficking free nation.”

In 2020, the agency won 38 cases with 51 traffickers convicted; an improvement from 18 cases won and 25 convicted traffickers in 2019. A total number of 733 suspected traffickers were apprehended in 2020,while in 2019, 701 arrests were made. A slight improvement by the agency.

There are four categories of tier placement in the US TIP analysis. Tier one, tier two, tier two watch list and tier three. These tiers placement however have nothing to do with the size or economic power of a country but rather on the strength of the fight against trafficking in the country.

What each tier ranking means

A tier one placement, the highest ranking, does not however mean that a  country has zero case of human trafficking or has fully combated it. Rather, it shows that there is a consistent effort to address the problem as well as meet the standards set out under TVPA.

“To maintain a Tier 1 ranking, governments need to demonstrate appreciable progress each year in combating trafficking. Tier 1 represents a responsibility rather than a reprieve,” the report stated.

Tier two ranking means that the governments of countries placed on the list or elevated have not fully met the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to attain viable compliance with those standards. These are countries whose statistics in the former fiscal year show an improvement in the fight  against the crime of trafficking. 

Tier 2 Watch List ranking is for countries whose governments do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards, although make significant efforts to comply with those standards. However, their actions are not proportionate to addressing the estimated number of victims of severe forms of trafficking.

Also, countries that have failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year, including increased investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking crimes; increased assistance to victims and decreasing evidence of complicity in severe forms of trafficking by government officials.

Countries categorised under the tier three ranking are those whose governments do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. 

Why Nigeria is still placed under Child Soldier Protection Act list and  what  it means

Nigeria’s placement on the Child Soldier Protection Act list is informed by the fact that her military underreports minors trafficked as soldiers, maids, cleaners, porters, or even as sex slaves within the military.

The inclusion of Nigeria on the CSPA list has lots of implications in terms of support from the United States in financing, commercial licencing of military equipment, issuance of license for direct commercial sales of military equipment, as effective from Oct. 1, 2021 throughout the 2022 fiscal year.

These restrictions may however be waived by the United State President’s consent or other grounds of exceptions in line with the provisions of CSPA.

Column six of the 2020 NAPTIP statistics analysis showing how Nigeria underreported minors’ involvement for use in armed conflict by the Nigerian military.

The inclusion of countries in the  CSPA list is informed by a range of sources which include but are not limited to first hand observation by the United States government personnel. In addition are research and credible reporting from various UN entities, international organisations including media houses, both local and international. 

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