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Technology and human trafficking in Nigeria

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By Mercy Kelani

HDI seeks to combat trafficking through law enforcement agencies and technology.

Human trafficking is a global crime which affects about 40.3 million people around the globe, while earning traffickers a minimum of $150 billion annually; this makes human trafficking one of the world’s most profitable crimes. Nigeria also has a part in this global crime, serving as an origin, transit, and destination country. Survivors of this terrible act narrated their stories of suffering from fellow humans, in pain and agony. Still, human traffickers do not cease to subject their victims to mental abuse, emotional and psychological trauma, and torture, through the use of Technology – video recordings and pictures of victims’.

However, there is hope of the successful eradication of human trafficking through the same technology used by human traffickers. The success only depends solely on how effectively Law Enforcement Agencies can properly include technology in their interventions, investigations, and modus operandi of trafficking networks. This act will effectively enhance prosecutions through concrete digital evidence, thereby alleviating the sufferings of survivors during the course of criminal proceedings and enabling the provision of support services for them.

FG should enact laws that prohibit technology misuse.

The Human Development Initiatives (HDI), in a bid to achieve a successful combat against human trafficking in Nigeria, stated that it will rely on the tactics by which law enforcement agencies such as National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP), the criminal justice system, the Police, and other agencies can make use of technology in their interventions. This is the reason why HDI calls on the federal government to regulate the tech industry by enacting laws that prohibit technology misuse and promotion of human trafficking.-

The statement was made by the Executive Director of HDI, Mrs. Olufunso Owasanoye, on Saturday, July 30th, 2022, during the marking of this year’s World Day Against Trafficking In Persons. This year’s theme has its focus on the role of technology as a tool that can both enable and impede human trafficking, and according to Owasanoye, the theme reveals how human traffickers manipulate technology to carry out their illegal Trade of human trafficking by employing internet and digital platforms for the purpose of deception, exploitation, and manipulation of victims for trafficking.

Human traffickers recruit accomplices through social media.

Human traffickers deploy the use of technological platforms for the organization of transports and shelter, communications with victims and potential clients, and the establishment of intractable networks to proliferate their criminal activities. Among other things, technology has been greatly exploited to aid easy communication with other criminals and the hiding of criminal proceeds with swift speed, effectiveness, efficiency, and anonymity. Another deployed source is the use of digital platforms such as the use of Social Media platform.

Asides communicating with victims, clients and known perpetrators, human traffickers also get to train and recruit accomplices, through social media platforms, into the act of human trafficking. Their communication with victims is mostly done through the use of e-mails and other messaging services, coupled with deception (unreal photographic materials, assurance of fake employment, promises of a better life, and many more) which aids the easy advertisement of their job without quick suspicion of their actual intention.

Nigerians should protect survivors and prevent stigmatization.

Thus, HDI urges service providers, tech-based organizations, and telecommunications companies to develop measures and restrictions that will enable the prevention of the abuse of digital platforms as a means of human trafficking. The organization also expressed its determination and commitment towards fighting and eradicating human trafficking and all other allied anti-human ventures which include forced marriage, sexual slavery, organ harvesting, forced labor, buying and selling of humans, domestic servitude, and others. All Nigerians are urged by HDI to protect survivors, prevent stigmatization, and ensure access to justice and healthcare.


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