Joseph Osuigwe Speaks at International Human Trafficking Conference in USA

Source: Joseph Osuigwe C.

Joseph Osuigwe, a Nigerian anti-human trafficking and human rights advocate was one of the over 40 international research presenters at 2018 International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference at University of Toledo, Ohio, USA.

While at the conference, he presented one of his paperstitled “Engaging Private Sectors in Combating Human Trafficking in Nigeria: Results, Challenges, and Recommendation”

In his paper, he stated, “Trafficking in Persons is now the fastest-growing business of organized crime, that involves the exploitation of men, women and children within their own countries and across international borders. Human traffickers or perpetrators often see young people, especially women, girls and children as commodities that can generate 100 times of the amount spent on recruiting them. Human trafficking remains a great threat to our economic development, advancement, and human capital. It saps the very potential of our nation by frustrating the aspiration of our young people”.

Mr. Osuigwe pointed out that human trafficking is a big illegal business that has directly or indirectly benefited many firms, companies or corporations, and over 150 billion dollars are generated annually from the exploitation of 45 million victims globally, leading to 30, 000 deaths annually.

He narrated how him and Kristi Koci(DEVATOP intern from Italy) conducted a survey among 50 companies and businesses in Abuja, Lagos and Nasarawa State, which showed that private sectors in Nigeria have not been involved in combating trafficking, even though some demonstrated interest to get involved if the Federal government makes a demand from them. According to him, little or nothing has been demanded from private sectors in tackling human trafficking in Nigeria.

While human trafficking benefits some businesses, it also affects many, because it remains a great threat to our economic development and human capital. It is both a labor issue and a human rights issue.

There is very low participation of private sector in combating human trafficking, and a majority of them do not understand their roles in addressing these issues, Joseph noted.

He further revealed another form of modern slavery in South Eastern part of Nigeria, which involves exploitation through apprenticeship. He explains, “though, apprenticeship is not exploitation, but there are instances where businessmen/traders (known as Oga) can use it to deceive and exploit young boys. This happens when a boy’s family agreed with the master that he will serve and learn trade from a businessman (the master or Oga) for either 8, 10, 12 or more years, and at the end of the service, the master will empower him with resources to establish his own business. In addition to learning trade the boy cooks, wash Master's and madam's, including children clothes, sleep on the floor when everyone has slept, eat only when everyone has eaten. However, when the boy (young man) is rounding-up his 10 or 12 years of service, the master will allege that he was stubborn, stealing, and irresponsible, and therefore he cannot establish him, and then finally pushes him out of the business. At this point, they young man is left with nothing”.

Responding to questions and comments by participants, Joseph Osuigwe said that lack of political will is among the causes why private sectors in Nigeria have not been fully organized and engaged in tackling human trafficking. He further stated that private sectors can participate in promoting the fight against human trafficking by adopting itas their corporate social responsibilities.

He advised that Nigerian government and other countries should as a matter of urgency, make anti-human trafficking a national priority and stimulate private sectors to take action to end human trafficking.

International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference has been bringing together researchers, practitioners, and individuals with lived experience in an effort to lay the groundwork for future collaborative research, advocacy, and program development against human trafficking. To date, the trafficking conference has welcomed presenters from 34 states and 25 countries to educate social service, health care, and criminal justice professionals on human trafficking and the needs and risk of victims, as well as their customers, and traffickers.

Joseph Osuigwe is an international anti-human trafficking advocate, and has spoken in different international forum, motivating thousands of people from over 20 countries to take action against human trafficking. He is the Executive Director of Devatop Centre for Africa Development, a Nigerian nonprofit organization that focuses on combating human trafficking and other human rights abuses. He resides in Abuja, Nigeria.

You can reach him via [email protected] or [email protected]