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Cablegate: Nigeria: Italy Deports 152 Tip Victims

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 000820

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM KWMN PHUM IT NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: ITALY DEPORTS 152 TIP VICTIMS

REF: ABUJA 358


1.(SBU) The Italian Government on March 1 forcibly
repatriated 152 trafficking victims using two chartered
aircraft flown into Lagos. RNLEO was at the Lagos airport
for oversight of NDLEA drug interdiction efforts and was able
to witness the arrival of the first Italian plane carrying 36
women and girls. Using two of the buses recently donated to
the Nigerian police by the Italian government (reftel), the
Anti-TIP Task Force received the returnees and transported
them to a temporary holding facility in Ikoyi, Lagos. This
was soon after by the arrival of the second charter flight
carrying 116 women and girls. These receptions required
heavy police security as traffickers and victims' relatives
were at the airport attempting to gain access to the
trafficking victims.


2.(SBU) On March 4 INL FSN visited the police holding
facility and met with Superintendent of Police Joseph
Famakin, who works on the Police Anti-TIP Task Force.
Famakin, who had organized the police reception of the
returnees at the Lagos airport, claimed that the TIP victims
would be released shortly, into the custody of either
confirmed relatives or, if relatives were not located, to
liaison officers of their home state. As is the norm with
the trafficking of Nigerian women and girls to Europe, the
vast majority of this group are from Edo State.


3.(SBU) Famakin told INL FSN that screening of the deported
TIP victims had started almost immediately upon their arrival
at the police holding center -- screening for identities and
location of relatives, compulsory HIV/AIDS testing, and
interviews for possible criminal evidence to be used in
prosecuting the Nigerian traffickers responsible for the
large exodus of women and girls to brothels in Europe.


4.(SBU) Famakin stated that a particular challenge in this
screening process was determining a girl's or woman's true
identity since most traveled to Europe on fake or forged
documents given them by traffickers. The returned
trafficking victims were also extremely reluctant to give
disclose the identities of their traffickers, as they
believed that voodoo rituals and native medicine they
submitted to prior to being trafficked would curse them and
result in their death or maiming if they gave criminal
information to the police. Though the deported girls and
women were considered "victims" under the UN Protocol's
definition, most were witting of their future as prostitutes
in Europe when they depart Nigeria, claimed Famakin. This
further hinders the returnees' willingness to cooperate with
law enforcement authorities. He expressed hope, however,
that the enactment of Nigeria's first TIP law (a draft bill
is being reviewed by the National Assembly) would make
prosecution of trafficking crimes easier, though he did not
elaborate.


5.(SBU) When contacted by RNLEO March 7, Famakin confirmed
that the last of the group of deportees had left the
detention facility for their homes in Edo State on March 6.
Girls and women who tested positive for HIV/AIDS were
released but ordered to present themselves to their state's
Health Department, purportedly for treatment and counseling.


6.(SBU) Comment: The Federal Government has yet to match its
impressive anti-TIP rhetoric with adequate funds for even the
short-term care needed to cope with groups of rescued and
returned trafficking victims. Longer-term shelter and
vocational training remains unavailable. Therefore, on
average over half of returned TIP victims are re-trafficked
to Europe within weeks of being released from government
custody.
Andrews

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