12 November 2003

United Nations Promotes Action to Prevent and Counter Trafficking in Human Beings from Nigeria into Italy

UN Assists Nigeria and Italy in Signing "Memorandum of Cooperation"

VIENNA, 12 November (UN Information Service) -- Anti-mafia Chief Prosecutor, Pierluigi Vigna, and the Ministry of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Akinlolu Olujinmi, signed a "Memorandum of Cooperation" in Abuja on 11 November 2003.

The Memorandum has been signed within the framework of the "Programme against Trafficking in Minors and Young Women from Nigeria into Italy for Sexual Exploitation Purposes" that the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) is currently finalising. The main objective of this initiative, funded by the Italian Government, is to promote an effective cooperation between Italy and Nigeria, by upgrading analysis and legislative tools and operational instruments (Task Forces) to prevent and counter the trafficking in human beings, and provide assistance to the victims.

The memorandum is a crucial step forward in the right direction. It foresees the exchange of information related to organized crime and the recycling of illicit proceeds, and will lead to an improvement in the effectiveness of the bilateral cooperation between Italy and Nigeria against criminal groups dealing with trafficking in women for sexual exploitation.

In 2001, it was calculated that around 50,000 persons are sold each night on Italy's streets. Alberto Bradanini, Director, UNICRI, pointed out that traffickers earn up to 3,000 Euros per month by exploiting a woman in the sex industry. A girl who wants to free herself from the "debt" contracted with her exploiters for travel and accommodation expenses, has to pay an average of 50,000 - 60,000 Euros.

"Given the transnational nature of human trafficking, the best way to combat this new form of slavery is through international co-operation, the harmonisation of normative systems and the identification and adoption of best practices, fully involving all segments of the civil society" said Mr. Bradanini.

UNICRI has also promoted the creation of Two Task Forces, in Nigeria and in Italy. The Nigerian Task Force is composed of: the Directorate of Public Prosecution - Federal Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development; the Office of Special Assistant to the President on Human Trafficking and Child Labor; the Nigeria Immigration Service - Headquarters; the Nigeria Immigration Service - Edo State Command; the Nigeria Police Force - Headquarters; the Edo State Police Command; the Edo State Judiciary and Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF).

The Italian Task Force is composed of: the National Antimafia Bureau; the Servizio Centrale Operativo of the Direzione Centrale della Polizia Criminale; the Public Prosecution Office of Turin; the Immigration Office of Turin Questura; End Child Prostitution, Pornography And Trafficking (ECPAT) Italia; Associazione Tampep Onlus.

    In Italy, around 3,591 women have been included in social protection schemes, 1,895 permits to stay have been issued and about 14,378 women have received social support, in the period 2000-2002.

UNICRI is a member of the network of institutes associated or affiliated with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  It carries out its anti-human trafficking activities in cooperation with UNODC's Global Programme against Trafficking in Human Beings.

On 29 September 2003, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, also known as the Palermo Convention, entered into force and on 25 December 2003, the supplementary Protocol to the Convention regarding trafficking in women and children will enter into force. The Convention and its supplementary Protocol will provide a common international legal space, which will represent a crucial step forward in the fight against trafficking in human beings.

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