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The National Assembly on Monday prescribed a minimum of 10 years imprisonment for persons convicted of human trafficking in addition to payment of 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, Mrs. Beni Lar, said 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 that “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 Civil Society Organisations; and
“It broadens the definition of trafficking by including activities such as the procurement or recruitment of any person for organ harvesting.”
The lawmaker added that 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.
She restated 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 Senator Abu Ibrahim, expressed regrets that human traffickers had continuously changed their tactics and devised new means of carrying out their nefarious acts.
He said, “This review is, therefore, imperative to make the law more responsive and proactive to counter emerging trends in human trafficking.”