On September 7th and 8th, a workshop, supported by the French Embassy, took place in Bamenda (Northwest) on Nigeria-Cameroon cross-border cooperation in human trafficking, especially baby trafficking ("baby factories" phenomenon).
The workshop was supported by the French Embassy in Cameroon and coordinated by NGO REPERID. It was organized within the framework of the Priority Solidarity Fund "Support for the fight against human trafficking in the Gulf of Guinea countries". Through this program, worth 800,000 euros (525 million CFA francs) for three years, France sponsors Cameroonian, Nigerian, Beninese, Ghanaian and Togolese efforts to fight against these modern forms of slavery and to dismantle trafficking networks.
Every year, about 2.5 million victims in the world, mostly women and children, are recruited and exploited. According to the United Nations and the European Council, human trafficking is the third most common form of trafficking after drug and arms trafficking. It generates no less than 32 billion euros of annual turnover. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2010 report, 79% of identified victims suffer sexual exploitation and 18% are subjected to forced labor.
The workshop was opened by the Northwest Governor’s Secretary General, the Consul General of Nigeria in Buea and a representative of the French Embassy. In their opening statements, they all stressed the importance of holding this activity in the Northwest border region and praised this workshop’s ambition to strengthen cross-border cooperation between Cameroonian and Nigerian magistrates and investigators (police and gendarmerie).
After exchanges with the press, the first day of the workshop enabled a comprehensive assessment of the situation in both countries. A representative of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP, Nigerian national agency against human trafficking) and Mr Mbuagbaw, a trainer for the Northwest Anti-Trafficking Task Force, have in turns presented the Nigerian and Cameroonian legal frameworks in regards to the fight against human trafficking : the Nigerian anti-trafficking law of July 2003, the Cameroonian law of 14 December 2011 on the fight against human trafficking. These laws are primarily based on the Additional Protocol to the Palermo Convention, which, in Article 5, calls on signatory states to take measures to translate into domestic law the provisions to criminalize human trafficking.
The issues of prevention and case prosecution were then addressed by Mr Langyi, senior officer at NAPTIP, and by a representative of the Cameroonian Ministry of Justice. Participants then worked on the production of operational outlines of cross-border cooperation.
On the second day, protection and rehabilitation of victims was first discussed. The training manager of NAPTIP reminded the importance of the judicial assistance to the victims and the need to ensure adequate support for them. Ms. Awasom, head of the Northwest Anti-Trafficking Task Force, stressed the crucial need for their psychosocial care.
The last part of the workshop was devoted to a discussion of all the participants on ways and means to strengthen cross-border cooperation . The establishment of a joint database and the need to improve transmission of information were part of the recommendations made by the participants. After two intense days, the participants praised the quality of the organization by REPERID and France’s involvement in invigorating working relationships between players in the anti-trafficking fight on both sides of the Nigeria-Cameroon border.
It is to be noted that some of the participants present at the workshop will take part in a regional seminar to be held in Lomé at the end of the year. Multidisciplinary delegations (officials, civil society organizations, etc. coming from Ghana, Benin , Nigeria and Cameroon will draw up an assessment of the situation and think about the perspectives in victim care : their protection, their monitoring and their rehabilitation.