2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S Nigeria Report
Summary This year the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) was proud to expand the NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. (Contributing through Advocacy, Resources, Education, and Service) program to Nigeria. Four students from different law schools across the country traveled to Abuja, Nigeria to bring awareness to human trafficking, NBLSAâ€™s 2011-2012 National Issue. The four Nigeria delegates worked in partnership with the Women Trafficking and Child Labor Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF) and assisted with their efforts to eradicate human trafficking through rehabilitation and reintegration methods. The delegates also worked with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficked Persons (NAPTIP), the federal agency that addresses the legal aspect of human trafficking in Nigeria. The delegates were chosen through a highly selective application process. While in Nigeria the students were also able to attend enriching site visits that taught them about the inner workings of Nigerian civil society. This report is compromised of a) background information about NBLSA C.A.R.E.S.; b) a synopsis of WOTCLEF and NAPTIP; c) short biographies of the participants; d) the studentsâ€™ perceptions after visiting Nigeria; e) a summary of the site visits; and f) action items for NBLSA and the international community to help Nigeria continue to combat human trafficking.
2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S Nigeria Report
About NBLSA and NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. The National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) is the nation's largest student-run organization representing over 6,000 minority law students from over 200 chapters and affiliates throughout the United States and six other countries. In addition to articulating and promoting the educational, professional, political and social agenda of Black law students, NBLSA has undertaken many initiatives, like NBLSA C.A.R.E.S., that touch lives beyond the borders of the United States. NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. (Contributing through Advocacy, Resources, Education, and Service) is a program designed â€œto expose law students to international issues, while nurturing their interest in international law. Students are given the opportunity to serve on an international level, which allows NBLSA to touch more lives," said National Director of International Relations, Crystal Ikanih. This year from January 1-9, 2012 four NBLSA student-members lead by Crystal Ikanih, traveled to Nigeria to work in partnership with Women Trafficking and Child Labor Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF), a Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. Specifically, the volunteers assisted with rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration efforts of trafficked persons, while learning how human trafficking affects Nigerian law. This marks the fourth year that NBLSA has sent students from law schools across the country to volunteer internationally. To date, NBLSA has raised over $7000 and volunteered more than 1000 hours on behalf of international issues.
About WOTCLEF and NAPTIP The Women Trafficking and Child Labor Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF) is a Non-Governmental Organization founded by Her Excellency, Chief (Mrs.) Amina Titi Atiku Abubakar, wife of the former Vice- President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in. She established WOTCLEF based on her passion to assist trafficked victims by empowering them through self-sustenance. They are committed to the eradication of trafficking in persons, child labor, woman rights, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. WOTCLEF is a leading organization in the international community and serves as an example for how countries can mitigate human trafficking issues. Their years of service and influence have assisted in the creation of a strong relationship with the United Nations culminating in WOTCLEF being provided observer status of the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime. WOTCLEF is most noted for initiating the creation of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficked Persons (NAPTIP), a federal agency that addresses human trafficking in Nigeria. NAPTIP is the agency that became the countryâ€™s focal point in the fight against trafficking in persons and its associated social problems. Specialized operational departments are created to implement the mandate of the agency. These departments are Investigation, Prosecution, Counseling & Rehabilitation and Public Enlightenment. Investigation and Prosecution are meant to enforce the law by detecting, investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons offenders, while Counseling and Rehabilitation is charged with the responsibility of care giving, counseling rehabilitating
2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S Nigeria Report and reintegrating victims. The Public Enlightenment program is tasked with educating the public and vulnerable groups about the realities of trafficking. Today WOTCLEF and NAPTIP have expanded with satellite sites throughout Nigeria and have helped thousands of trafficked survivors. For more information about WOTCLEF visit www.wotclef.org , and NAPTIP www.naptip.gov.ng
About the Participants Crystal Ikanih is the National Director of International Relations for the National Black Law Students Association. She is a second-year law student at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Legal Studies and Social Welfare, and certificates in Women Studies and African Studies from the University of Wisconsin. This past summer Crystal worked as a summer intern at the law firm of Aluko & Oyebode in Abuja, Nigeria where she immersed herself in Nigeria’s legal corporate sector. She has previously interned with the United States Congress under the leadership of Congresswoman Gwen Moore, and for the Wisconsin Legislature under the leadership of State Representative Jason Fields. She currently is apart of the Immigration Clinic at her law school where she is able to nurture her passion for international law. After law school Crystal aspires to use her law degree to continue to make an international impact. She is a proud Nigerian- American. Olie “Bibi” Gnagno is a native of California, raised in Cote D’Ivoire, West Africa. She attended Smith College where she double-majored in Government and French. While at Smith College, she studied abroad in Paris, France during a year where she secured a paid internship working with the French Senate. At Smith College, Ms. Gnagno served as the Co-Chair of the African and Caribbean Students Association. Upon graduation, Ms. Gnagno accepted a position to work with Kilpatrick & Stockton LLP in Atlanta, GA as a case assistant. In 2009, Ms. Gnagno completed a Masters of French from New York University and was accepted to attend North Carolina Central University School of Law. Ms. Gnagno currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Public Interest Law Organization, which promotes service and public interest law while aiding students to find positions in the field during and after law school. She also served as treasurer of NCCU’s chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.Ms. Gnagno has interned at the Law Offices of Gelly in Paris, France, where she worked on translation as well as privacy law issues in Europe. She has also interned in
2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S Nigeria Report Washington, D.C at the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law (ICNL). Gnagno is interested in pursuing a career in international law upon graduation.
Adeola Olagunju is in her second-year at Georgetown University Law Center. She is a public interest fellow at Georgetown and serves as vice-president of Georgetown Human Rights Action/Amnesty International, the largest human rights organization on campus. After her first year of law school, Adeola worked with the Open Society Justice Initiative's Africa Programme in Abuja, Nigeria. There, she focused her time on pre-trial detention and extra-judicial murders in Nigeria, establishing and reporting on the country's newly passed Freedom of Information Act, reforms following the April 2011 elections, and international prosecutions at the International Criminal Court. She has also served as an Intern for the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary and for the Chairman of the African Affairs Subcommittee of Senate Foreign Relations. Prior to law school, Adeola worked as a program assistant on International Advocacy for the former Soviet Union and with the deputy director of the Washington office on domestic reforms for the Open Society Foundations. Her professional interests include international public litigation, mediation, and advocacy relating to political governance reform and anti-corruption in Nigeria. Adeola graduated from University of Southern California as a Trustee Scholar with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and French Language and Literature. Georgina Owino, a second-year student at Georgetown University Law Center, was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. She earned her Bachelor in Arts from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Philosophy, Political Science and Economics. During the summer after her first year in law school she travelled to West Africa where she worked in Sierra Leone with a civil society organization and in Liberia with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. She is primarily interested in the legal infrastructure that supports sustainable development in emerging markets in Africa and post-conflict nations. She currently holds two internship positions, the first with the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the second with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. For the past four years Georgina also worked as a management consultant where she supported large-scale change management efforts in the federal government. Her clients included the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals, and the National Institutes of Health. An active member of her
2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S Nigeria Report community, she also volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster children in the abuse and neglect division in Washington D.C.
Student reflections Crystal Ikanih As a rising sophomore during my college days, I was exposed for the first time to human- rafficking through a Women Studies course. This is where I developed a passion to help combat this international issue, and set a goal to one day make a large contribution to fighting against this terrible crime. My opportunity arose when I was appointed Director of International Relations for the National Black Law Students Association and decided to make this issue my platform and the organization’s National Issue for the year. This allowed me to plan and organize the first ever international service trip to Africa. Nigeria was our chosen country because of the large number of trafficking that occurs within and outside of its boarders. For one week the delegation and myself worked with our partner organization Women Trafficking and Child Labor Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF). Here we were able to assist with the organization’s rehabilitation and reintegration methods by working with the children at the shelter. WOTCLEF houses trafficked children, children affected by child labor, and other similar offenses. The most rewarding experience for me was the one-on-one counseling sessions with the children. During this time the delegation was able to connect with the children and hear their personal stories of internal and external trafficking. The delegations had the honor of meeting the founder of WOTCLEF Her Excellency Mrs. Amina Titi Atiku Abubakar and hear her passionate story behind the creation of the organization. WOTCLEF is the organization that gave birth to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP). This is the federal agency in Nigeria charged with eliminating all forms of human trafficking through the established laws in the country. Our visit to NAPTIP allowed us to learn the inner workings of the agency. NAPTIP is compromised of many departments including counseling, research, prosecution, and investigation. The delegation spent some time in the prosecution department speaking with the head prosecuting attorney about the trial process. It was amazing to learn that NAPTIP has satellite offices throughout the country staffed with prosecuting attorneys. The United Nations has also developed a relationship with NAPTIP and looks to them as an example for other countries to model their human trafficking efforts after. Our trip to Nigeria also included three site visits to Non-Governmental Organizations and one to a National Agency, which were all very enriching. We spoke with some of Nigeria’s most influential leaders from the National Democratic Institute, the CLEEN Foundation, the Open Society Justice Initiatives, and The National Human Rights Commission. At these visits we were also able to speak to Nigerian attorneys and learn their perspectives about Nigerian society and legal affairs. This trip was a landmark for the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA). Not only does it mark our expansion in the international opportunities we offer our members, but also it increases our presence around the globe. Working with
2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S Nigeria Report WOTCLEF and NAPTIP was an opportunity for NBLSA to make a mark in the fight against human trafficking, but the fight doesn’t stop here. As Nigeria progresses as an example to all nations fighting human trafficking we all should make our own contributions towards this effort. Olie “Bibi” Gnagno Having grown up in Cote D’Ivoire, West Africa, I have always longed to visit countries that I was not able to while growing up there. When the opportunity presented itself to participate in a service trip to Nigeria, I was excited to apply. Selected to attend the service trip not only helped me gain a better understanding of Nigerian culture but of the African continent as a whole and the issues that are currently affecting its growth and development. Human trafficking, a modern day type of slavery was chosen as the national issue and was the main reason, Nigeria, having a high incident of trafficked victims, was picked as the focus country. Upon arrival, the country’s beauty as well as the warmth of its people was felt immediately and permitted the group to ease into the project without much difficulty. While in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, we met with her Excellency Mrs. Amina Titi Atiku Abubakar, the founder of WOTCLEF, who graciously answered our questions about human trafficking. The highlight of that experience for me was a phrase that she said during her interview about why and how she created WOTCLEF. Her Excellency simply statedthat “the power of the tongue is great.” This phrase stuck with me throughout the duration of the trip because it helped me to understand that if you are put in a position to help others then you should speak up and start instituting change and that is what Mrs. Atiku Abubakar did. Established in 1999, WOTCLEF helped to foster a dialogue between NGOs and the government, informing them of children and young women who were specifically at risk of being trafficked externally as well as internally in Nigeria. The interview with Mrs. Atiku Abubakar was eye opening as she explained the methods by which children and young women were trafficked and a theme that I noticed throughout the interview was the lack of education that allowed these victims better yet known now as survivors, to be taken advantage of. This theme resurfaced again when we visited NAPTIP. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) was established with the vision of Mrs. Atiku Abubakar through a bill drafted by a committee led by her Excellency. During our visit with Mr. Orakurie, the Head of Communication and Media, he said something that affected the way that I have since thought about poverty and human trafficking, he introduced us to the concept of the “feminization of poverty”. Mr. Orakurie explained to us that human trafficking has largely become a female problem where the man is absent in a family setting – physically and financially. The woman is thus left to lift the burden of raising the family and may engage in commercial sex as a last resort to provide for her family. Understanding the history of NAPTIP as well as the way its prosecution department works was informative as well as inspiring. Inspiration was also derived from hearing the stories of two Nigerian women, now residing in a NAPTIP shelter, who had been trafficked to Mali for prostitution.
2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S Nigeria Report Hearing their stories of not only strength but also of resiliency empowered us as a group. Education or the acquisition of a skill by the children and the young women can also be the liberating tools to make sure that someone does not fall prey to human trafficking. Working with children at WOTCLEF through rehabilitation methods thought me that joy is still possible even when negative things happen to someone and that being a survivor is more powerful than being a victim. Adeola Olagunju Going back to Nigeria to learn more specifically about anti-human trafficking was something that was really beneficial and important to my development as a human rights lawyer and advocate. While interning with the Senate Judiciary Committee this past Fall, one bill that I came across was the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (2011) S.1301. Senator Patrick Leahy has described human trafficking as the single greatest human rights violation of our time. Millions of women and children are trafficked internationally each year-- most often for slave labor and sex work and many end up in the United States. The newfound attention the United States is paying to the issue combined with the severity of both domestic and international trafficking throughout Nigeria made it an issue that I personally found compelling and wanted to learn more about. Working with the children at the WOTCLEF shelter was an exercise that introduced the humanity and realities of trafficking in children. While most of the children we met were victims of child abuse (which also falls under the competence of NAPTIP) or internal trafficking hearing the stories that they wished to share with us was inspiring nonetheless. I learned as much, if not more, from them as they did from me. The additional site visits that we were able to procure were incredibly interesting and informative. We were able to visit both NGOs and governmental agencies, which provided an adequate balance of perspectives and roles. At the Nigerian office of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) we received a thorough analysis of the logistical and programmatic elements of elections in Nigeria with a focus on the April 2011 rounds. At the National Human Rights Commission, we spoke with the Chief Legal Officer who was able to explain the legal intricacies of the NAPTIP law and the Child's Rights Act in Nigeria, both of which are domestications of international human rights treaties. We also learned that because police power is concurrent between state and federal governments, the Child's Rights Act must be domesticated by each state in order to be valid. Georgina Owino It is not common to hear many success stories about human rights in Africa. Indeed, the nature of human trafficking itself is so perverse that one would question associating the word â€œsuccessâ€? with anything related to the practice. Nevertheless, the inaugural NBLSA trip to Nigeria showed just that. Despite continued challenges related to human trafficking, Nigeria has taken laudable steps to combating it across the country. In 2003, the Trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act was created which prohibits all forms of human trafficking in the country. The Act was amended in 2005 to increase penalties for trafficking offenders, which, among other
2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S Nigeria Report penalties, currently includes up to five years imprisonment for forced labor to life imprisonment for slave-dealing. The Act also created a specialized agency, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP), which is specifically dedicated to the task of prevention of all forms of human degradation and exploitation in the country. Nigeria’s actions, particularly those pioneered by NAPTIP, have earned the country a degree of international recognition; for instance, the country advance from the US Department of State’s human trafficking “watch list” in 2003 to the Department’s top tier of countries fully complying with standards to eliminate human trafficking today. The NBLSA service trip took special effort to evaluate the types of services offered by NAPTIP, which include counseling, rehabilitation, investigation, prosecution, and research. The team uncovered that a month prior to our arrival, NAPTIP, in conjunction with other state and international actors, returned over 100 Nigerian women from Mali – a significant number of who were suspected to be “survivors” of human trafficking. According to an interview with the director of the legal department, NAPTIP files approximately 30 cases a year against alleged traffickers. While the number is admittedly modest in relation to the extent of the practice in the country, Nigeria’s anti-human trafficking efforts are undoubtedly moving in the right direction. It is clear that even early in 2012 human trafficking remains a prevalent problem in Nigeria. While the complete eradication of human trafficking in the country has not been achieved to date, what is apparent is that the country’s efforts are achieving laudable results in the lives of trafficked survivors. Institutions such as NAPTIP and NGOs like WOTCLEF, whose efforts gave birth to NAPTIP, are largely to credit for the successful results seen in the country. In an age where the perception of Africa is more closely linked to human rights abuses than human rights protections, Nigeria’s efforts to combat trafficking are an under-credited model of success – a model not only for other countries in Africa but for others around the world.
National Democratic Institute of Nigeria NDI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization that has supported democratic institutions and practices in every region of the world for more than two decades. Since its founding in 1983, NDI and its local partners have worked to establish and strengthen political and civic organizations, safeguard elections, and promote citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. NDI Nigeria is credited for making the April 2011 the most credible the country has ever had. For more information on NDI Nigeria visit their website at http://www.ndi.org/nigeria
CLEEN Foundation The CLEEN Foundation is non governmental organization established in January 1998 with the mission of promoting public safety, security and accessible justice through the strategies of empirical research, legislative advocacy, demonstration programs and publications, in partnership with government and civil society. For
2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S Nigeria Report more information on the CLEEN Foundation visit their website at http://cleen.org/index.html
National Human Rights Commission The National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria was established by the National Human Rights Act, 1995 in line with the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations which enjoins all member States to establish Human Rights Institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. The Commission serves as a mechanism for the enhancement of the enjoyment of human rights. Its establishment is aimed at creating an enabling environment for extra-judicial recognition, promotion and protection and enforcement of human rights, treaty obligations and providing a forum for public enlightenment and dialogue on human rights issues thereby limiting controversy and confrontation. For more information visit http://www.nigeriarights.gov.ng/
Open Society Justice Initiative The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve this mission, the Foundations seek to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, the Open Society Foundations implement a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, we build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. The Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities. Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) is the branch of the foundation that covers Nigeria. For more information visit http://www.soros.org/
Action Items So how do we continue to move forward in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria? NBLSA should make a commitment to continue to play a role in Nigeria. Establishing a continuous relationship with NAPTIP and organizations such as WOTCLEF is important because every year we provide some form of assistance the relationship grows stronger. It would be ideal if NBLSA is able to travel to Nigeria every year and work alongside these agencies and organizations making a direct impact. NBLSA is proud to have donated $1,000 USD to WOTCLEF to assist them in their work against human trafficking. Gestures such as these should always be included in any form of action NBLSA takes. Considering the international community’s involvement, thinking on a larger scale is more realistic. Human trafficking crosses many boarders and evokes immigration and criminal laws in many countries. It is paramount that countries educate themselves about human trafficking so that they can be able to identify it. Countries who have not created human trafficking laws should begin doing so, following the example of countries
2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S Nigeria Report that already have them establish. This is a call to the legal community and government to take the issue underneath their wings and do something about it. For those countries with established laws they must ensure that the law is being followed and perpetrators are being brought to justice.