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Anti-trafficking: Catholic bishop, others want legal framework for asset seizure

The Auxiliary Catholic Bishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Anselm Umoren; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Damian Dodo; and the Director of Public Enlightenment, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Arinze Orakwue, have urged the National Assembly to provide the legislative framework for the courts to confiscate the assets of human traffickers.

They said this on Wednesday in Abuja during the formal launch of three advocacy campaign hashtags by the Action Against Trafficking In Persons Cluster (AATIP) and the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE).

According to them, this will not only weaken criminal networks in the fight against human trafficking in the country, but also create room for the victims of the crime to benefit from the proceeds.

In their separate remarks, experts and stakeholders shared experiences and best practices in the efforts to address and counter the human trafficking problem worldwide.

Speaking, Mr. Dodo, SAN, who is the pioneer chairman of NAPTIP, said, “We need a legislative framework that will enable the courts not only to confiscate the proceeds of human trafficking, but to also begin to implement the concept of restorative justice.

“So, it is not enough for the government to confiscate the proceeds of human trafficking, the victims of this evil crime should benefit from the proceeds.

“The victims are not in any way helped by the conviction alone. The innocent victims who are exploited, abused and traumatised whose lives were almost destroyed should be in the position to receive some form of compensation from the proceeds.”

Similarly, Bishop Umoren said that the inadequate funding of the government agency tasked with combating the menace meant that the country would continue to perform below expectations, particularly in the areas of prosecution and victim assistance.

He said human trafficking has gone beyond sexual exploitation and domestic servitude to organ harvesting.

On his part, Orakwue regretted that trafficking undermined the human capital development of the nation and promised that who take advantage of those who can’t fight back would be brought to justice.

Also, the SCALE Project Lead Advisor, Eric Umoru, said the advocacy campaign hashtags; #FundNAPTIP, #ConfiscateTraffickingProceeds, and #SayNoToHumanTrafficking, would be deployed across social media for effective advocacy campaign against trafficking by addressing trafficking issues via awareness creation and sensitisation on salient points.