Believe it or not, there is a dark world of human trafficking with survivors recounting frightening and unimaginable stories, we can say the business thrives on vulnerable human lives. Against this and after participating in JDPC media training, Our Correspondent ERE-EBI AGEDAH IMISI examines how journalist through their reportage can curb this menace in our society.
In the hierarchy of global issues, human trafficking and irregular migration has become an issue on the front burner demanding urgent attention. These twin crises, often interconnected, represent a dark underbelly of the world’s societies, where the vulnerable are preyed upon, and dreams of a better life often end in despair.
The United Nations estimates that nearly 25 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, with women and children comprising a significant portion of these numbers.
While governments and organizations work tirelessly to combat human trafficking, journalists play a crucial role in raising awareness and holding perpetrators liable. Their investigative reporting can uncover the hidden networks that facilitate this crime, expose corrupt officials who turn a blind eye, and highlight the stories of survivors who have escaped the clutches of traffickers.
This formed the discussion at a three-day training for media practitioners in Abuja, focused on ethics, do’s and don’ts of human trafficking and irregular migration reporting organized by the Action Against Trafficking in Persons Cluster, AATiP, facilitated by the Justice Development and Peace Commission, JDPC.
The training also had the support of the United States Agency for International Development, USAID Palladium Project, which is under the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement, SCALE course.
During the training, journalists were charged on the need to intensify their efforts through in-dept reportage, shedding light on issue surrounding human trafficking, risk faced by migrants as a means to expose and combat the menace.
Executive Director of JDPC, Rev. Fr. Solomon Uko, Justice Development and Peace Commission, JDPC noted that the commission was pleased to partner with Journalist in the fight against trafficking in persons.
According to Fr Uko, the media has a major role to play in bringing about meaningful change in the society adding that the training will afford the media better understand in the work they do for humanity.
Resource Person at the training, Mr Nasiru-Muazu Isah noted that Journalists covering trafficking in persons and irregular migration must be equipped with the pre-requisite knowledge so as to properly educate the public on their antics.
According to Mr Nas, human trafficking and irregular migration are crises that demand the full attention of the journalistic community adding that the power of the media can help dismantle the criminal networks behind trafficking, advocate for the rights and dignity of migrants, and bring about meaningful change.
He explained that Investigative reporting can expose traffickers, smugglers, and those who profit from human suffering. It can also hold governments accountable for their efforts in combatting these crimes.
He stated that sharing the stories of survivors can help others to identify methods used by traffickers and can also encourage support for organizations that assist survivors.
‘‘Reporting on individuals affected by these issues helps humanize them, fostering empathy and compassion among readers and viewers.
‘‘Journalists who choose to report on human trafficking and irregular migration must be acutely aware of the ethical and safety challenges involved. They often deal with vulnerable sources who may fear retribution from traffickers or authorities, also maintaining the safety and anonymity of sources should always be a priority.
‘‘Additionally, journalists should strive for balanced reporting that avoids sensationalism while conveying the gravity of these issues. They should be diligent in fact-checking and verification to maintain credibility’’ he stated.
Also, speaking on the sidelines of the training with Nigerian Pilot, Programmes Director of the Commission, Mr. Timothy Ejeh underlined that the media is a critical part of the society and that they play a very important and essential role in issues of advocacy and has capacity to mobilize public opinion, push policymakers to make great and good decisions that will help the less privileged.
He said the media exposes the traumatic experiences being faced by victims of human trafficking, a development that spur policymakers and government to action, and equally dissuade others from making themselves a soft target for human traffickers.
He further remarked that through the active support of the media, a greater number of persons will be mobilized to assist the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) an agency he said is grossly under-funded.
He highlighted the need for more funds to be committed towards making the operations of NAPTIP easier by equipping their camps where survivors of human trafficking are housed and provided support.
“Currently they have 14 shelters spread across the country and with a large number of survivors, of human trafficking in their camps. And they have to provide shelter for them. They have to feed them.
“They have to provide medication. And just like a normal human being, all that you need to come up with, and then even psychosocial support because they’ve gone through a lot of trauma. And so there is need for the individuals, for the private sector, for even the government to fund NAPTIP properly so that they will be able to tackle issues of human trafficking”, Mr. Ejeh stated.
The training covered various aspects, such as Overview of TIP, victim’s identification & Issues around stigma and discrimination suffered by survivors, legal framework: Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement & Administration, TIPPEA, Acts 2015 as reenacted, counter-trafficking initiatives and more.