The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has charged victims of human trafficking to press civil charges against convicted traffickers so as to claim damages.
Nduka Nwanwene, commander of the agency in Edo State, said this at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by Justice Development, Peace and Caritas Initiative (JDPCI) in Benin, Edo capital.
The meeting focused on the activation of the Victims Trust Fund committee in the state to handle victims of human trafficking.
“There is a provision in the law in, that victims can take their traffickers to Court on civil claim to claim damages if they are exploited.”
“NAPTIP is concerned with the crime aspect of trafficking. When a trafficker is convicted, it doesn’t prevent the victim from taking the trafficker to court and making civil claims and damages,” he said.
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He said such development would aid the fight against human trafficking as the traffickers has been pushed roundly and suffered punishment with the conviction and would also be made to pay some fund for having exploited the victim.
“This will send a clear message that if a trafficker has been convicted, the victim can still go to court to claim damages for the Trafficking, and when convicted, the victim can claim damages of N5 and N10 million, it would go a long way in rehabilitating the victim.”
On his part, JDPCI’s Executive Director in Uromi , Rev. Fr. Fidelis Arhedo, charged Edo government to activate the Victim Trust Fund Committee to help take care of victims of human trafficking in the state.
“The fund is meant for victims and survival of human trafficking, it is for those who were trafficked, exploited and battered and return with nothing and need to be assisted to live a good life”.
According to him, “If the committee is set up and functional, it will help reduce the financial burden on the state government in taking care of victims of human trafficking.
He said “Edo State Government in 2018 assented to an Act that created Edo Taskforce Against Human Trafficking and this taskforce, has different components on what to do. One of the components is to establish a Victim Trust Fund.
“And the VTF is where the Edo state government itself will contribute resources to that fund including international, local and individuals can contribute to that fund.
He expressed fear that if the state government fails to inaugurate the committee, there is the possibility that the next government may not be willing to continue with the process.