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Cablegate: Trafficking in Persons (Tip) Report

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 16 ABUJA 000515

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


DEPT ALSO PASS AID


G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, IWI, AF/RA


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN ELAB SMIG ASEC KFRD PREF
SUBJECT: TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS (TIP) REPORT

REF: A. STATE 22225, B. 02 ABUJA 02976, C. ABUJA 00159


1. The following is post's submission for the annual
Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report. Paragraphs below are
keyed to questions in reftel. Note: Post tried to confine
material to respective sections, but several examples have
overlapping relevance to the general overview, prevention,
prosecution, and protection questions. Details in each
section have shared relevance with the others and are best
reviewed as a whole.


2. OVERVIEW OF A COUNTRY'S ACTIVITIES TO ELIMINATE
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS:


A and B. Nigeria is a country of origin, transit, and
destination for international trafficked men, women, and
children. Nigeria is primarily a point of origin, though it
also serves as a significant transit area for trafficking in
the sub-region. To a lesser extent it is a destination
point for young children from nearby West African countries.
There is also a sizeable, but unquantifiable, internal
trafficking network for forced labor and commercial sexual
exploitation (CSE) within Nigeria. While the majority of
trafficking from Nigeria involves females destined for
brothels in Southern Europe, estimated thousands of young
males are trafficked to other African countries, including
Gabon, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and the
Benin Republic, to work on farms or plantations. Some
children are coerced into prostitution. Press reports claim
18 children per month are repatriated from Gabon to
Nigeria's eastern cities. Authorities have identified
another trafficking route of children through Katsina and
Sokoto to the Middle East and East Africa. This practice
reflects historic slave trade routes between Sub-Saharan
Africa and the Middle East. Eastern Nigeria and Cross River
and Akwa Ibom states have been the focus of trafficking of
children for labor and, reportedly in some cases, human
sacrifice. Many children are sold for as little as $50.00,
according to press sources. There were credible reports in
2002 that poor families sold their daughters into marriage
as a means of supplementing their income. Traffickers
profited USD 50 to 1,500 or more per child, depending on the
child's earnings.


Sources of information regarding Nigerian involvement in the
international sex trade, the largest "employer" of Nigerian
trafficking victims, include press, government officials,
NGOs, victims, transportation company personnel, law
enforcement authorities, international aid agencies and
diplomatic missions. The UN International Office of
Migration (IOM) estimates that as many as 300,000 Nigerian
women were trafficked for CSE since 1997. In May 2002,
Minister of State Musa Elayo said that between 3,000 and
4,000 Nigerian trafficking victims are repatriated annually
and called for passage of the National Assembly's anti-TIP
bill. The Italian Ambassador to Nigeria recently estimated
that 18,000 Nigerians prostitutes currently in Italy were
trafficking victims. Nigeria and Italy signed and are
implementing a bilateral agreement to protect and repatriate
victims. In the past four years, Italy and Nigeria have
cooperated to repatriate over 1,500 such victims. In June
2002, 200 victims were deported to Nigeria. On average now,
there are about 50 women deported to Nigeria per week.
While many had gone willingly to Italy, others were forced
or duped by family members or criminal gangs or driven by
dire economic conditions into the international sex
industry. Some believed they were going to work as
waitresses or domestic staff, and were forced into
prostitution in order to pay off the debt of being
trafficked internationally. Other significant receiving
countries for trafficked Nigerians include the Netherlands,
Spain and France. In one glaring example, in 1999 a Dutch
court convicted the former Ambassador of the Netherlands to
Nigeria for providing visas to Nigerian women allegedly to
engage in the commercial sex trade.


C. As in the 2002 report, fewer trafficking syndicates
appear to be trafficking females to Europe via air routes.
Instead, some are opting for the more circuitous but less
scrutinized land routes across West Africa and the Sahara.
This change appears to be caused by improved interdiction
efforts by airlines, European diplomatic missions in
Nigeria, and immigration authorities at European airports.
The adoption of Shari'a-based legal systems by northern
states resulted in the stronger enforcement of laws against
child prostitution there. However, NGOs and journalists
have reported that Koranic scholars in the north are
exploiting child labor, and many children are reportedly
being trafficked to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj.
Immigration estimates it sees about 20 cases of trafficking
per month.


D. The extent and nature of trafficking in Nigeria has been
studied and reported on by various sources listed above. As
stated last year, the ILO's International Program for the
Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) has conducted a regional
study of child trafficking patterns in eight West African
countries. This excellent resource, part of a $4.3 million
regional anti-trafficking project funded by USDOL, is
available on the Internet at www.ilo.org. Recent USAID and
DOL studies based on surveys carried out by the
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture explore
Nigerian child labor in the cocoa industry. A similar study
produced by UNICEF (available at www.unicef.org) also
provides quality information. In 2001 UNICEF published a
report called "Children's and Women's Rights in Nigeria: A
Wake-up Call" (not available on the Web site). The
International Organization of Migration (IOM) funded a study
by the University of Benin (Edo State, Nigeria) to ascertain
the extent of the problem in Nigeria, but the report remains
unpublished to date. When released, this report may contain
the most comprehensive data on trafficking within the
country.


E. Most victims trafficked to Nigeria are young children
from neighboring states, including Togo and Benin Republic.
Thousands of children are also trafficked domestically.
Girls are usually placed in homes as domestic servants; most
boys become agricultural laborers. Some of the children
involved in this trade are incorporated into households,
working as "wards." A smaller number may be used to hawk
goods on street corners or to beg. Traffickers take
advantage of a cultural tradition of "fostering," under
which it is acceptable to send a child to live and work with
a more prosperous family in an urban center in return for
educational and vocational advancement. Often the children
in these situations only work and do not receive any formal
education; however, many families who employ children as
domestic servants also pay their school fees. Other
children are forced to hawk goods for their parents or
guardians, selling nuts, fruits, and other items in the
streets, at times amidst heavy traffic. Fear of physical
punishment, language barriers, and traditional religious
practices are used to control victims. Child workers also
fear the deadly poverty that may befall a parent or other
family member if he or she does not earn a living. In
countries such as Nigeria where many practice animism, the
belief in "juju" curses and oaths has considerable effect on
silencing children in forced labor. Ref B discusses child
labor conditions further.


F. Traffickers target impoverished families in rural areas
for child trafficking from Nigeria, particularly in Cross
River, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyi states. Some
children are trafficked for labor in Cameroon, Gabon, Benin
Republic, and Equatorial Guinea to work in agricultural
enterprises or as market traders. (These children are also
targeted for domestic trafficking as domestic servants in
Abuja and Lagos.) Nigeria's ministry of women's affairs
estimates some 6,000 Nigerian children between ages 6 and 13
are enslaved as farmhands and domestic servants in West
Africa. Some traffickers kidnapped children from school
grounds; at least one such example was rescued by a family
and returned to his family.


Traffickers may be a distant relative or a friend of a
friend, often called a "sponsor" or an "aunty," who
approaches poor parents with promises of a better life for
their child international or domestically in the home of a
wealthy urban family. Parents, ignorant of the conditions
awaiting their child, often agree in exchange for a small
sum or the promise of salary remittance. Traffickers have
also reportedly tried to have children in juvenile courts
released to their custody, which has aroused the suspicions
of a few alert magistrates in local courts.


Children are sometimes trafficked through southeastern
Nigeria through the riverine areas at night by small boats,
locally referred to as "Ijaw Airways" (Ijaw and Itsekiri are
reportedly common conductors of these passageways).
Children are packed in boats or canoes and can spend days
without food or water on the high seas to reach
international destinations. Some of these victims jump
overboard; others die in boat accidents; some are reportedly
shot by police upon arrival. Documentation is not
necessarily used, but falsified passports or illegitimately-
issued genuine passports are also likely used (per
experience in the U.S. visa section of the mission). In
Libreville, trafficked Igbo children are forced to hawk
goods in markets, endure beatings, and receive little or no
compensation. Some child victims have grown to adulthood in
these conditions; despite their desire to return to their
native land, they cannot afford the exit visa fee and/or
fines for having been in Gabon illegally.


Traffickers mostly target young women for the
international sex trade, but some are also used as drug
couriers. Edo is followed by Delta State as the main
suppliers of Nigerian prostitutes for Italy. Anecdotal
evidence suggests that Edo indigenes began migrating to
Italy to work as migrant farm laborers several decades ago.
These laborers began facilitating the travel of other Edo
residents to Italy for work. Some of these individuals
became involved with drug trafficking and other criminal
activities. In the 1980s and 1990s, Nigerian criminal
networks, primarily in Turin and Milan, began facilitating
travel of young women for prostitution. Ironically, many
traffickers are former victims who have paid off their
madams and begun recruiting girls from their home areas to
Italy. Many traffickers prefer overland routes through
Benin, Togo and Ghana. Some victims then fly from Accra or
Abidjan to Europe. Others move overland to Conakry, then to
Bamako, then to Algiers or Casablanca for sail across the
Western Mediterranean to Spain. Staying in safehouses along
the way, the overland route takes two to three weeks, and
many victims die of heat exhaustion in transit. In
addition, Kano's international airport is becoming a new hub
for traffickers, given regular flight service from this
airport to destinations in eastern Africa and the Middle
East. Victims are also being taken overland to Niger and
Morocco or driven through Egypt to the Middle East and
Europe.


Many young women claim they are told they will perform work
other than prostitution and then are forced into the sex
trade once abroad. Other young women know they will be in
the sex trade. What most do not know are the horrendous
conditions they will encounter. A Madam may pay a trafficker
USD 12,000 per victim. Many are not paid the salaries
promised, forced into indentured servitude to repay
smuggling fees as high as USD 50,000, and are subjected to
physical and sexual abuse to keep them from alerting foreign
law enforcement authorities. The Madam may profit USD
20,000 to 50,000 per victim. Traffickers often use family
pressure to ensure the victims' participation. Nigerian
crime syndicates may threaten or use indebtedness, beatings
and/or rape, physical injury to or even murder of the
victim's family members, arrest and deportation to persuade
those forced into a life of servitude from attempting to
escape. Many trafficking victims are forced to undergo
ritual cultural oaths of secrecy or are swayed with charms.
Because belief in traditional religions is still maintained
by a number of Nigerians, even those practicing Christianity
or Islam, those juju rituals can keep many victims from
contacting authorities about their abuse. See also section
H below.


G. Despite the significant efforts discussed throughout
this report, the GON has been unable to comply with the
minimum standards of the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection
Act (TVPA). In the past year, the Federal Government showed
no new commitment of resources to fighting TIP. In June
2002, the House of Representatives passed a draft anti-
trafficking in persons bill. The Senate passed the bill on
February 6, 2003, and it now awaits President Obasanjo's
signature into law.


News reports alleged that the law would transform the Women
Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation
(WOTCLEF), an NGO founded by Amina Titi Atiku Abubakar, wife
of Vice President Atiku, into a federally funded and staffed
agency. A source who testified at the Senate hearings on
the bill denies any such provision is included in the law.
On January 28, 2003, the House of Representatives ratified
the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish
Trafficking in Persons. On the same day, the House
rescinded its previous decision (on October 30, 2002) which
rejected the Child Rights Bill. Public hearings on the bill
will review and reconsider the bill, whose sections setting
the minimum age for marriage at 18 are considered
"offensive" to some Nigerian customs. Despite the delay in
passing this domestic law on child rights, Nigeria did
ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the
early 1990s.


Although various laws have proscribed child labor in Nigeria
continually since colonial times, in 2002 President Obasanjo
signed the instruments of ratification for ILO Convention
182, Worst Form of Child Labor, Convention 138, Minimum Age
for Employment, and Convention 111, Equality of Occupation.
President Obasanjo recognizes TIP as a threat to Nigeria and
remains personally committed to the issue, frequently
speaking out against it. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
has designated an office to handle TIP issues. In 2002 the
Government established an inter-ministerial Committee to
Address TIP, but this committee lacked its own budget and
oversaw no programs. Police and immigration have dedicated
TIP units. The Police Anti-TIP Task Force of 10 officers in
Lagos was created by the GON in 1999 to assist with the
repatriation of trafficked victims and to build criminal
cases against suspected traffickers. Other anti-TIP units
are located in eleven critical states, which the GON plans
to staff with 100 officers. Government programs for health,
education and general social development, while not
earmarked to address trafficking per se, indirectly do help
address factors contributing to trafficking.


H. Post has received credible reports that individual
government officials facilitate trafficking via passive
complicity, lacking will to fight the problem, or by
actively condoning the practice. Corruption is common in
Customs, the National Police Force and Immigration, where
most personnel are underpaid and poorly trained. Some
repatriated TIP victims have alleged the active
participation of Nigerian Immigration officials as a part of
the trafficking syndicates. Returnees have reported that
they boarded flights to Italy for a fee ($10,000 to $15,000)
without any passport or visa.


In November 2002, the GON announced its investigation of a
retired senior customs or immigration officer and two others
suspected of trafficking children in Abuja. Post's last
information on this case showed the GON was searching for
the suspects. Allegations against the former official were
made by an official in the Internal Affairs Ministry, who
said he had "heard children crying in the night at [the
suspects' addresses], then you would hear the sound of a
vehicle going out of the premises and then you no longer
hear the cries." Many women are reportedly trafficked
through neighboring countries using forged travel documents
identifying them as non-Nigerians. Ghana and Guinea serve
as the main transit points using this method. The arrest of
15 Nigerian traffickers and rescue of 33 Nigerian women and
girls in Conakry in 2001 revealed the major role Guinea
plays as a transit hub for Nigerian females bound for Europe
(please see section I under "INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION
OF TRAFFICKERS" for more information on this case.)


I. The National Police Force, Customs, Immigration, and
other relevant authorities lack financial resources and a
sustained political commitment from the Federal Government
to combat trafficking in persons effectively. Few officers
have been trained adequately to identify and monitor
traffickers. A handful of notable crusaders in the police
force, mostly females, are personally committed to the issue
and effect the largest results. They regularly use their own
funds or resources to feed and care for deportees, or to pay
for travel to neighboring states for investigations. Former
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Abimbola Ojomo and
Head of the Lagos-based task force against TIP, Mrs. D.A.
Gimba, demonstrate a personal commitment to fight
traffickers and aid victims. Immigration comptrollers are
visiting state officials, local government authorities, and
traditional rulers to raise awareness of the issue.


Corruption, endemic in Nigerian society after decades of
misrule and mismanagement by military rulers, remains one of
the GON's most pressing problems. The GON could summon
adequate resources to address the TIP problem, but to date
has chosen to allocate resources to other pressing, and
equally distressing, problems facing the country. Reports
from air carriers suggest that most sex workers travel with
authentic documents. False Nigerian documents can be
purchased cheaply and easily. Italian documents,
particularly the residency permit, are extremely vulnerable
to fraud. The GON has not demonstrated the ability nor the
will to curb fraud in the issuance of travel documents.
Therefore, the onus has fallen on Italian authorities to
control entry. In 2002, the Italian and Nigerian
governments signed a repatriation agreement, but this does
not seem to address the problem of immigration fraud.
Police attempts to stem TIP were inadequate, and frequently
the victims were subjected to lengthy detention and public
humiliation upon repatriation.


3. PREVENTION:


A. The GON acknowledges that trafficking is a problem and
is aware of the negative image that trafficking generates.
However, many GON officials put the responsibility for
addressing the international TIP problem on destination
countries, such as Italy. Some officials and even NGOs
blame the problem on demand for Nigerian prostitutes in
Europe. The trafficking of women and children from northern
Nigeria to Saudi Arabia is a growing problem, but officials
of these predominately Muslim states are reluctant to admit
the existence of a sex or labor trade to Muslim countries.
Nigerian Government officials also do not openly admit the
internal trafficking of children within Nigeria for forced
labor purposes.


B. In the past year, a number of Nigerian government
agencies became more involved in anti-trafficking efforts,
particularly at the state level. Several governors and
their spouses have developed a personal interest in the
issue and begun holding state ministerial-level meetings,
including such state and local agencies as Women's Affairs,
Social Development, Police, Justice, Children's Affairs,
Juvenile Courts, and the Attorney General. Among the most
active new examples are Governor and Mrs. Achike Udenwa in
Imo, Governor and Mrs. Peter Odili in Rivers, Governor and
Mrs. Victor Attah in Akwa Ibom, and Governor Orji Kalu in
Abia. At the federal level, the main anti-TIP body is the
inter-ministerial committee to address TIP.


GON anti-trafficking efforts still focus largely on law
enforcement through Customs, Immigration, and the Nigerian
Police Force, including the Anti-TIP Task Force in Lagos.
In the past, police attempted to deter the trafficking of
women by imposing jail sentences and publicly humiliating
the victims. In 1999, the federal Criminal Investigation
Department (CID) paraded a group of 47 females and 17 male
victims before the press in Lagos. Later that year, 62
undocumented women were deported from Italy to Nigeria and
met by police, local media, their parents and village
chiefs. They were promptly arrested. Such deportations
from Italy are common now, and the deportees are not
arrested but rather released after a cursory screening.
Both approaches to handling the deportees appear ineffective
as greed continues to motivate parents, relatives, and
traffickers in the sex industry. The absence of punishment
for traffickers also encourages them to continue their
crimes. One of the highest-risk groups for trafficking is
returned victims. Former Deputy Inspector General Ojomo,
who has participated in several international trafficking
conferences, searches for sponsors for rehabilitation
programs for returned prostitutes to prevent their being re-
trafficked.


C. National public awareness campaigns undertaken by NGOs,
prominent politicians, state governments, presidential
statements, and the press are gaining widespread attention.
Public awareness of TIP increased with Nigerian
participation in trafficking for Commercial Sexual
Exploitation (CSE) in Europe and awareness of child
trafficking for forced labor is growing substantially. As
discussed above, new legislation promises to raise the TIP
profile further. WOTCLEF raises national awareness of the
trafficking problem through Titi Abubakar's high profile
involvement in the issue. In 2001 WOTCLEF sponsored the
first Nigerian-hosted Pan-African conference on Human
Trafficking in Abuja.


Despite the capital-intensive nature of reaching the village
level (transportation requires rugged vehicles and hours of
slow plodding through dilapidated, ill-defined roads at
times overrun by vegetation), state level actors and making
significant headway in public awareness campaigns. In 2002,
Imo State forged an innovation and comprehensive anti-
trafficking campaign through its Ministry of Women's Affairs
and Social Development. This campaign includes radio
jingles in pidgin English and local tongues (warning parents
to "beware of people who come with shiny gifts"), handbills,
billboards, newsletters, public service announcements,
posters, a 5-episode television dramatization series, a
documentary, and on-site, intensive, public briefings by the
ministry in all Imo local governments. The Imo House of
Assembly introduced a bill mandating that employers provide
for education of their household staff.


Public awareness campaigns continue to blanket Edo and other
eastern states where most of the commercial sex workers
originate. Despite campaign efforts, the lucrative returns
from the international prostitution trade and prevailing
economic conditions lower the stigma attached to
prostitution. Idia Renaissance works to raise awareness of
the dangers of trafficking with parents, leaders,
traditional rulers, village heads, and civic groups. The
governor established an Underprivileged Children's
Scholarship Fund for 179 students. Youths affiliated with
the Chari-love NGO in Edo wrote, produced, and perform a
play to educate communities about the deadly allure and
hazards associated with TIP. Other on-going campaigns
include issue-raising by Josephine Anenih, wife of the
former federal Minister of Works and Housing, as President
of the Federation of Women lawyers (FIDA) in Edo State,
whose lobbying efforts brought about the 2000 law increasing
Edo's penalties for traffickers. Despite the humiliation to
victims, Governor Lucky Igbinedion has published the names
of returned prostitutes and their families in the national
dailies to discourage families from putting their daughters
into prostitution. This controversial tactic began to
stigmatize the prostitution industry in Edo society, which
had largely grown to accept it as an admirable employment
for the state's young ladies.


In October 2002 in Anambra, Geneveve Ekwochi, the
commissioner for women affairs told the press that some
orphanages were selling babies entrusted to their care.
Following an allegation made against one such home, she
ordered it closed transferred the home's 22 babies to a
government-owned home. Ekwochi said the home's caretaker
had been arrested and charged with child trafficking. She
said their investigation "had so far found that the babies
were sold abroad, where their organs such as kidney and
heart were being transplanted into patients."


Onari Duke, wife of the governor of Cross River, is
particularly concerned about the sale of children by their
families in the northern part of the state during the period
just after the holidays, when families may be financially
strapped. Despite the efforts in these particular states,
Bisi Olateru-Olagberi of Women's Consortium of Nigeria
(WOCON) says funding for shelters that provide housing,
education, job training, and protection from family members
for the repatriated women is an unmet and immediate short-
term need. Olateru-Olagberi's organization's preliminary
research on the problem includes a survey of repatriated
women. She also conducts public awareness campaigns and
national workshops. In the North, Girl-Child Education
Programs are an important preventive measure.


D. The federal government offers little to women and
children as alternatives to trafficking. The GON is
actively engaged in an ILO/IPEC program to end Nigeria's
Worst Forms of Child Labor. The federal Ministry of Women's
Affairs has few accomplishments to advance the economic or
social status of Nigerian women. A handful of national
leaders are committed to advancing women politically, and
women have made limited in-roads in this respect during the
season leading up to the Spring 2003 elections. Women face
formidable social and legal barriers to equal opportunity
with men, including Constitutional discrepancies in women's
rights compared to those of men. Although primary education
is compulsory, this requirement is not rigorously enforced.
Many primary and secondary school aged children work when
they should be in the classroom. Child labor experts
believe that the GON's commitment to improving educational
access is genuine, but tangible results of this commitment
have yet to materialize (ref B).


State governments are increasingly taking initiative in
providing options. Many recognize that free primary
education is the best means of relieving the pressure
poverty places on families most vulnerable to trafficking.
In Imo state, the government stopped collecting school
levies and provided school uniforms. Primary school fees
are less than a dollar per month, which the government
believes is an affordable cost to most families. Most of
the women returned to Nigeria are ethnic Bini and hail from
Edo State, the former kingdom of Benin. Eki Igbinedion,
wife of the Edo state governor, founded the NGO "Idia
Renaissance" to fight prostitution and trafficking. Idia
also rehabilitates repatriated prostitutes. At the Idia
Skills Acquisition Center in Edo, 200 young women enroll in
four to six month programs teaching in catering, computers,
secretarial, hairdressing and sewing. This year, they are

SIPDIS
venturing into a microcredit cooperative program to foster
the young girls' creation of cottage industries to sustain
themselves. Idia's educational programs address high drop-
out rates among girls aged 15 to 20. The Edo government's
subcommittee on women's political affairs creates awareness
of the issue, instills responsibility in parents toward
their children, and educates children to the dangers of the
trade. Press reports indicate that traffickers have
threatened the Igbinedions for their high-profile exposure
of those involved in the trade.


In 2002 the Rivers State government created seven skills
acquisition centers in local governments. They intend to
place one in each of the 23 local governments. Skills
taught in the centers included sewing, hairdressing,
cosmetics, carpentry, soap- making, computers, catering, and
decorating. The Rivers government recognizes a myriad of
social factors compounds TIP, and is working on ways to
address them all. Trafficking in Persons is in large
measure a symptom of the widespread social, economic and
political problems that confront Nigeria. These myriad
problems will need to be addressed in tandem with the
creation of greater public awareness of the dangers of TIP
if TIP itself is to be reduced and eventually eliminated.


In Akwa Ibom state, officials have made in-roads to defining
the pattern of traffickers and hope to undermine their
operations with increased surveillance. In 2002, the police
commissioner recognized that Akwa Ibom had a large and
growing trafficking problem. Law enforcement officials
there estimate that Akwa Ibom is mainly a "transit center,"
with less than half the victims originating directly from
the state. The destinations include Cameroon, Equatorial
Guinea, South Africa, and Gabon. Parents of the victims
within the state have received pay-offs. The state's
woman's commission began airing radio jingles to warn
parents of the truth behind trafficker schemes. Their core
message is that parents must learn to be responsible for
their children until they are adults, to "get away from the
idea that sending them to the 'Big City' will lead to their
better future." As the wife of Governor Attah says, "There
must be a partnership. The government must say to its
people, we will educate your child and provide opportunity
for skills development. The parent must agree to be
responsible for the child's guardianship until they are
ready to provide for themselves." They are engaging in a
sustained sensitization program, but warn that the
underlying cause of poverty is less easily addressed.


In Abia state, NGOs worked with the Ministry of Women's
Affairs to raise public awareness of the trafficking
problem. WOTCLEF held a public forum at Abia State
University to sensitize mothers to the dangers with allowing
their children to be sold off. The women's commissioner
argued that "The problems lie with the parents. Mothers
pretend not to see." Other messages included the warning
that pursuit of "fast money" and a glorified lifestyle would
not pay off in the long run. In villages, anti-TIP meetings
and workshops addressed grassroots. Churches held meetings
to raise the issue with parishioners. There had been a few
television discussions on the rights of the child and child
abuse. UNICEF programs were sensitizing the local
population about birth control. The local governments had
set up child rights committees. Since 2000, Abia was
enforcing a "no hawking during school hours" rule to curb
the time spent out of the classroom by children.


Supplementing individual state efforts, NGOs have made
significant contributions to preventing TIP. In Edo State,
St. Rita's Comprehensive High School provides three-year
vocational training in various programs, including:
cosmetology, computers, catering, secretarial and
accountancy, weaving, fashion and designing for more than
100 students between the ages of 17 and 25. With additional
funding, they could double their number of students.


E. The GON is able to support prevention programs, but only
to a limited extent. To date, there is no anti-TIP budget
item. The GON has many pressing needs before it and has not
yet focused on a comprehensive anti-trafficking program. An
overall improvement in Nigeria's badly deteriorated economy
and education system is needed to address the root causes of
Nigeria's TIP problem. Moreover, a complete overhaul of the
system of endemic corruption would free resources for
productive social programs. Elected officials regularly
divert funds specifically allocated to official social
projects to other use.


F. The relationship between the federal executive and
legislative institutions and NGOs varies depending upon the
NGO's political affiliations. NGOs' repeated efforts to
introduce anti-TIP legislation in the National Assembly were
thwarted until the Vice-President's wife's NGO, WOTCLEF,
successfully submitted the draft anti-TIP law to the
Assembly in 2001, which finally passed last month (see
above). NGOs in all areas of civic society want federal
funding of their programs. The involvement of wives of
government officials has made it increasingly difficult to
distinguish between genuine NGOs and other politically-
oriented organizations established under the banner of anti-
TIP work. Established NGOs with good grassroots support
feel threatened by and are often out-financed by NGOs
created by high-profile political figures. Despite heavy
competition for scarce resources, most anti-TIP NGOs are
familiar with and complimentary of each other's work. Some
work together or regularly meet to discuss issues of common
interest. NGOs frequently applaud the GON's permissive
attitude toward freedom of speech and association since
1999, a dividend of democracy that is appreciated
universally.


G. No, the GON does not adequately monitor its borders or
immigration and emigration patterns for evidence of
trafficking. Not all law enforcement agencies respond
appropriately to such evidence. For example, Embassy
officers repeatedly have observed small sum payments to
customs and immigration officers (the equivalent of 20 cents
to ten dollars) for quick passage without paperwork. Four
countries border Nigeria, and illicit trafficking of persons
and goods is easily conducted via unofficial border
crossings. Poorly trained and corrupt immigration officials
do not look for evidence of trafficking, nor do they usually
respond adequately when evidence is presented. As noted
above, stricter document controls and scrutiny at Murtala
Mohammed International Airport in Lagos have resulted in a
shift of trafficking patterns to take advantage of the
country's porous overland borders and coastal maritime
routes.


H. In 2002 the President established an inter-ministerial
committee to coordinate all federal anti-TIP policies and
programs. The committee is chaired by the Minister of State
for Justice and has subcommittees on law enforcement;
prevention efforts, legal reform; and planning of an
international anti-TIP summit. In 2002 President Obasanjo
established the position of Special Assistant to the
President on Human Trafficking and Child Labor. The
government has a police anti-TIP task force and an
independent (answering only to the President) anti-
corruption commission. However, throughout the year, the
looming 2003 elections demanded increasing attention by
senior elected officials.


I. The GON continues to participate in regional and
international conferences and forums addressing TIP,
including the Regional Meeting on the Implementation of the
ECOWAS Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons in Lome
in December 2002. This meeting focused on national actions,
areas for multilateral cooperation, proposed solutions and a
Plan of Action for areas of intervention which suffer from
gaps or duplicate efforts. The GON postponed its planned
hosting of an international TIP summit in Abuja August 2002
to formulate better regional and international strategies to
prevent, monitor and combat trafficking. No new date has
been announced.


J. The GON does not yet have a national plan of action to
address TIP. The National Labor Advisory Council (NLAC) is
responsible for receiving and investigating child labor
complaints and for enforcing regulations. NLAC, IPEC, and
UNICEF are coordinating efforts to develop enforcement
strategies, focusing on awareness and official training
activities. The Ministry of Employment, Labor and
Productivity established a special office for child labor.
Additional information on child labor issues is in Ref B.
The inter-ministerial TIP Committee is working toward a
national plan with the assistance of the USDOL-funded ILO-
IPEC program. The Ministries of Women and Child
Development, Health, Education, Justice and Foreign Affairs
are key participants in this process, which will include the
voices of NGOs, according to the responsible Presidential
Advisor.


K. In 2002 President Obasanjo named Michael Mku to the new
position of Special Assistant to the President on Human
Trafficking and Child Labor. Mku has since left the
position and no replacement has been named.


4. INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS:
A. As discussed above, until President Obasanjo signs the
bill which passed the National Assembly on February 18,
2003, no federal law specifically prohibits TIP. With the
legislation's passage, there is renewed hope that anti-TIP
efforts will be successful as Nigeria's criminal code
undergoes change in this new democracy. The criminal code
applying to southern Nigerian states addresses some
trafficking aspects, especially regarding children, in
chapter 21. Sections 276-279 of the Northern Penal code,
which applies to the 17 northern states, forbid trafficking
of females for prostitution or any immoral or illegal
purpose. It should be noted that each of Nigeria's 36
states began updating state laws in 1999. The criminal code
and the penal code may no longer be universally applicable
as new laws or court systems (e.g. Shari'a statutes) have
supplanted or supplemented older laws. For example, Edo's
law specifically targets traffickers of women and children,
adding provisions beyond those found in the criminal code.
There are laws against kidnapping, rape, and slavery of
which prosecutors can avail themselves to arrest traffickers
in many cases.


B. There is no federal penalty for trafficking in persons,
given the lack of a federal trafficking law. Under the
criminal code, penalties for trafficking of children include
fines and imprisonment from two to seven years. Under the
penal code, penalties for encouragement of prostitution for
women or children range up to ten years.


C. The penal code protects children from sexual abuse
through age 14 and defines all abuse under this age as
rape. The criminal code prohibits the sexual assault or
indecent assault of boys under the age of 14 (Criminal code
Cap. 42, Chapter XXI, S. 216) and girls under the age of 13
(Criminal Code Cap. 42, Ch. XXI, S. 218). Sexual assault of
girls between the ages of 13 to 15 is known as defilement
and is categorized as a misdemeanor offense (Criminal code
Cap. 42, Ch. XXI, S. 221). For conviction of unlawful
carnal knowledge or defilement of girls, prosecution must
take place within two months of the commission of the
offense, and be corroborated by the testimony of an
additional witness. (Comment: few convictions for sexual
assault or defilement of girls are won -- or even brought
before a court -- under these statutes. The criminal court
system can take months if not years to hear a case. It is
extremely difficult for prosecutors to find a witness to
corroborate the victim's testimony, especially since
discussion of sexual issues is taboo in most areas. End
Comment.) Anyone causing or encouraging female prostitution
before age 16 is liable for imprisonment up to two years
(criminal code Cap. 42, Ch. XXI, S. 222A). Adults and Rape:
under the criminal code, rape is defined as "unlawful carnal
knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, if the
consent is obtained by force or by other means of threat or
intimidation of any kind, or any fear of harm, or by means
of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of
the act." The penalty is life imprisonment. A judge may
also declare an additional penalty of "whipping" for a
convicted rapist. Under Section 282 of the Penal Code, the
threat of death or injury, or the use of deceit, must be
used for unlawful carnal knowledge to be considered rape.
The Penal Code provides for a court to determine any length
of imprisonment, including life, for rape. Compared to the
Edo State law against trafficking, and the provisions in
Chapter 21 of the Criminal Code, and provisions in the Penal
Code, Nigerian lawmakers view rape as a much more serious
offense. Unfortunately, few offenders are brought to book
despite these laws.


D. As there is no federal law against trafficking, no cases
have been tried under an anti-TIP law. Criminal penalties
and civil fines have not been applied successfully and do
not deter violations of child labor laws. The GON attempted
to prosecute one prominent case in 2002 against a well-known
Lagos businesswoman, Bisi Dan Musa, wife of a former
presidential candidate. She was arrested and charged with
19 counts of child stealing and slave dealing, as no anti-
TIP law had yet been enacted. Authorities reportedly found
16 children between the ages of 1 and 4 in her custody
without evidence of authorization from the parents. The
trial was discontinued after most of the parents could not
be found or were unwilling to testify, and she was released
on bail. As discussed above, the GON in November 2002 was
searching for a former customs officer and two others
suspected of trafficking children in Abuja. The
investigation is still underway. At the end of 2002, 30
trafficking cases were pending in Edo, which has an anti-
trafficking law and an anti-TIP police unit, including one
case against a senior traditional ruler who was stripped of
his title. Many states arrested known traffickers but were
forced to release them when victims and their families
refused to testify. See also section F below.


E. Some traffickers enjoy strong ties to traditional
rulers, particularly in Edo and southeastern states. The
collusion of victims' family members impedes law enforcement
efforts. As noted previously, anecdotal evidence suggests
that Edo state-based crime groups control the traffic in
women and girls from that state to Italy and engage in other
such criminal activities as drug-trafficking and money-
laundering. Moreover, there is increasing evidence that
former victims of trafficking are involved in the
recruitment of young girls for commercial sex work in
Europe. Some law enforcement and government officials in
Edo reportedly have been involved in the trade. Travel
agencies and employment firms based in the South-East and
South-South frequently advertise bogus offers of legitimate
employment in Europe and the U.S.; these firms are suspected
trafficking fronts.


F. Interpol and members of the anti-Trafficking Task Force
have minimal resources for investigations and are
preoccupied with repatriating victims to their states of
origin. The task force swings into action when it receives
notice of imminent deportation of Nigerian TIP victims from
Europe or a trafficker is intercepted at the border. They
begin investigations by interviewing victims, who generally
do not cooperate in providing criminal evidence against
traffickers because of their fear of retribution or
preternatural curses. Next, members of the task force will
videotape the victims and travel to their homes for
identification purposes and contact their families. The
deportees are tested for HIV/AIDS. Those who test positive
are turned over to the state of origin's commission for
health. Electronic surveillance and undercover operations
are techniques used in the investigation of other criminal
activities in Nigeria. Edo State is developing a witness
protection program and exploring options for camera-based
testimony. However, given inadequate resources, such
techniques are not currently employed in Nigeria's anti-TIP
law enforcement response. Since traffickers have yet to be
convicted, the issue of mitigated punishment or immunity
from prosecution is generally moot.


The government regularly arrests suspected traffickers,
which has received increased press coverage in the past
year. In March 2002, immigration officials arrested 3
traffickers and freed 12 victims in the north. The
traffickers and the victims were paraded before the press by
the Minister of Internal Affairs, Chief Sunday Afolabi, who
used the occasion to condemn trafficking as "modern-day
slavery" and called for tighter scrutiny of travel documents
at West African borders. In April 2002, the State Security
Service intercepted ten teenage girls being trafficked out
of Nigeria and arrested the trafficker.


In September 2002, a victim escaped to a nearby police
station in Oyo State to report that she and three other
teenagers had been trafficked to Ibadan for CSE from Edo
State. The police arrested the two traffickers, but the
outcome of the case is not known. In January 2003, police
in Ebonyi State arrested seven businessmen from Cross River
State who "were found in possession of ten under-aged boys"
while traveling to Akure, Ondo State. Reports said the
police discovered "different types of charms with the
suspects, and it was believed that the charms were used in
making the children to be unconscious." Children told the
press that they "did not know their destination, but were
only promised that they would be helped to make some money.
The children said they had to start looking for means of
earning some income because their parents could no longer
pay their school fees." Demonstrating the limited social
understanding of the conventional trafficking definitions,
the suspects denied involvement in child trafficking,
"saying that they were only trying to get their junior ones
to Akure to get employment." The police commissioner
"paraded the victims" before journalists, who published the
children's names. The victims and traffickers were held by
police while the case was pending. Also in January 2003,
immigration officials in Ogun State arrested four suspected
traffickers and twenty child victims. Some were allegedly
in transit for housekeeping work in Lagos, others for
prostitution. The cases were pending at the time of this
report.


G. Police understanding of the trafficking problem remains
varied. In meeting with USG officials on TIP, police
commissioners in some states demonstrated their lack of
understanding of standard TIP definitions. When given time
and audience, post has successfully explained the
distinctions between trafficker and victim, trafficking and
smuggling, and so on. Comprehensive training at all levels
of the law enforcement community would help. The Nigerian
Police Force (NPF) soon will receive a specialized anti-
trafficking training program for members of its anti-TIP
Task Force as well as members of the general police force
posted to areas of significant trafficking activity. This
project, which the UGG funds and the International Office of
Migration implements, will seek to add an anti-TIP training
module to the basic training curriculum for new police
recruits.


In August 2002, the only female police commissioner, Nana
Aisha Abdulkadri, announced at a press conference in Port
Harcourt, Rivers State the creation of an all-female special
mobile police squad to be deployed "mainly for the fight
against human trafficking, particularly female trafficking."
Commissioner Abdulkadri said the squad "will be given
special training on martial arts" and "used to investigate
cases of human trafficking, especially women, and as under-
covers on drug barons as well as to investigate other cases
that concern women and crime."


H. On January 14, 2003, the instruments of ratification of
the U.S.-Nigerian Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) were
formally exchanged and the Treaty was entered into force.
Although the MLAT does not deal specifically with TIP, under
this treaty, the GON will establish an interagency anti-
fraud unit and taskforce that will be responsible for
combating the use of fraudulent documents at MMIA in an
attempt to gain entry to the U.S. With this process,
fraudulent documents should be detected and traffickers
exposed. The GON cooperates with other governments on TIP
investigations and prosecutions. As in previous reports,
post cannot provide a specific number of cases. The most
significant case remained the 2001-2002 arrest of 15
Nigerian traffickers in Conakry and the Guinean government's
subsequent extradition of these 15 to Nigeria (see paragraph
I below).


I. The 1931 U.S.-UK Extradition Treaty was made applicable
to Nigeria in 1935 and is the legal basis for pending U.S.
extradition requests. The GON's extradition agreements with
numerous countries but usually have a "dual criminality"
requirement: a person is not subject to extradition to stand
trial for an alleged offense committed in/against a foreign
country unless that same offense is a crime under Nigerian
federal law. Since trafficking is not yet a federal crime,
traffickers cannot be extradited for that particular
offense, though they could be extradited for related
offenses such as kidnapping, slavery, and abuse of a minor.
The 15 Nigerian traffickers arrested in Conakry were
extradited to Nigeria, but the 33 women and girl victims
failed to testify without protection. The GON's early 2002
prosecution of the 15 traffickers--including a former police
commissioner--in this high-profile international case has
stalled. It appears unlikely to continue despite the GON's
commitment to make this an example of strong anti-TIP
enforcement. The victims were returned to Edo, and some
were re-trafficked. Since then, Edo has increased
prevention efforts by developing skills acquisition centers
throughout the state for returning victims and other women
and girls.


As discussed above, there is evidence of government
tolerance of trafficking on a local and national
institutional level. There are also cases against
government officials accused of trafficking. Deputy
Inspector General (DIG) of Police Ojomo, forcibly retired on
March 6, 2002, claimed to have been investigating
allegations of the collusion of Customs officials in the
illegal trade. Returnees have made allegations that
Nigerian Immigration officials accepted bribes to look the
other way when traffickers take victims out of the country.
There are credible allegations that some traditional rulers
in Edo State have assisted traffickers and support the
recruitment of Bini women into the international sex trade.
Consequently, efforts to engage local government authorities
and traditional rulers in an awareness campaign frequently
run aground because of leadership acquiescence in or support
of human smuggling.


K. See answer in section H of paragraph 2.


L. President Obasanjo signed the instruments of
ratification for ILO Convention 182 concerning the
prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the
worst forms of child labor in 2002, as well as ILO
Convention 138 concerning Minimum Age for Employment and
Convention 111 on Equality of Occupation. On January 28,
2003, the House of Representatives ratified the Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons,
especially women and children, which supplements the UN
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. On the
same day, the House rescinded its previous decision (on
October 30, 2002) which rejected the Child Rights Bill.
Public hearings on the bill will review and reconsider the
bill, whose sections setting the minimum age for marriage at
18 are considered "offensive" to some Nigerian customs.
Despite the delay in passing this domestic law on child
rights, Nigeria did ratify the UN Convention on the Rights
of the Child in the early 1990s. The GON signed the
Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the
Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
on September 8, 2000 but has not yet ratified it. In 2000,
the GON became the first African country to sign the
Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children (supplementing the UN
Convention against Transnational Organized Crime), which it
ratified in 2001.


5. PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS:


A. Clear policies have not yet been established to deal
with persons trafficked to Nigeria. All regular laws apply.
For trafficked victims returned to Nigeria, social services
for resettlement are provided by a small number of
financially-strapped NGOs, not the government. Some victims
are forcibly returned against their will when foreign police
sweep and round up prostitutes for deportation. These
victims usually lose any private property they had acquired
abroad and arrive home in chains. Other victims, escaping
the tight watch of their traffickers, return voluntarily
through such programs as that offered by IOM.
The Italian government has provided USD 800,000 to the IOM
for assistance to women and girls repatriated to Nigeria and
to provide medical aid for returnees with HIV/AIDS. The
Italian government provided another USD one million for
preventative medical programs discouraging the spread of
HIV/AIDS in the country. Various actors within the GON have
made sporadic attempts over the past four years to "parade"
returned victims before the media to discourage cooperation
with traffickers. Media reports have carried estimates of
the number of those infected by HIV/AIDS in these reports.
While it may serve as a deterrent to some potential victims,
this campaign does not provide any assistance to those
already victimized by the illicit trade.


In Edo State, IOM has opened a brand-new shelter that can
comfortably house several dozen repatriated trafficking
victims. IOM airs jingles, television spots, and displays
posters and billboards across Edo as a preventive campaign.
IOM also runs a hotline to answer questions the public has
about trafficking (although this has had mixed results--some
callers want information about how to join in CSE
trafficking). IOM meets with village heads and arranges
public viewing of an educational video in the center
squares.


In December 2002, the Swedish International Development
Cooperation Agency (SIDA) allocated USD 900,000 over three
years to support a UNICEF anti-TIP project, its "Model Youth
Resource Learning Centre in the South-south zone of
Nigeria." The project will "reduce the underlying causes of
child trafficking, youth violence and HIV/AIDS prevalence
among adolescents in Edo and Delta states in collaboration
with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth
Development, state and local governments as well as civil
society actors."


B. The GON has planned to provide funding to NGOs, such as
the National Council for Women Societies, WOTCLEF, the Child
Welfare League of Nigeria (CWLN), and IDIA Renaissance
through the Inter-ministerial Committee Against Trafficking
in Persons to assist returning victims. To date, such funds
have not been allocated or received by the NGOs.


C. In September 2002, Foreign Minister Sule Lamido publicly
appealed to host countries of Nigerians abroad that "the
dignity of Nigerians must be respected, migrant workers of
Nigerian origin protected and those trafficked recognized as
victims who must be assisted rather than be dehumanized."
Victims who are returned from other countries, such as
Italy, are currently subjected to confinement, sometimes in
cramped facilities along with criminals for varying periods
of time. Victims repatriated to Nigeria are also subjected
to mandatory testing for HIV/AIDS and other sexually
transmitted diseases before being released from police
custody. These repatriated trafficking victims are seldom
prosecuted for violations of other laws such as immigration
or prostitution offenses.


D. The Police Anti-TIP Task Force encourages repatriated
victims to provide testimony for the prosecution of Nigeria-
based traffickers, but it rarely receives adequate evidence
as many women and girls have been threatened by traffickers,
often through juju, if they cooperate with law enforcement.
There is no witness protection program in Nigeria, though
witnesses could seek legal action against traffickers
through civil suits (no such suits are known to date).
Given the lack of a federal trafficking law and the paucity
of related criminal investigations, it is not known if
victims who cooperate in an criminal investigation as a
material witness are permitted to obtain other employment or
leave the country.


E. No victim or witness protection is currently available,
though, as mentioned above, the federal government is
planning to establish long-term care and vocational training
facilities for returned victims. Also, witness protection
measures may be included in the TIP legislation now being
considered by the President Obasanjo for signature into law.
Edo State is working to develop a witness protection program
of its own.


F. Italy is by far the destination of choice for Nigerian
women trafficked abroad. The GON has stationed a consular
officer at its embassy in Rome to assist Nigerian
trafficking victims arrested or rescued by Italian police
and to facilitate their repatriation to Nigeria. The
Nigerian Embassy in Rome works closely with Italian police,
immigration and Carbineri and coordinates shelter care for
Nigerian trafficking victims with Catholic NGOs such as
Caritas. Diplomatic personnel have been trained in other
key posts, such as Gabon, Benin, and Togo, to assist, refer,
and shelter victims.


The Nigerian Ambassador to Gabon was personally responsible
for assisting two children in Libreville who recently
approached the Embassy for asylum from their trafficker. He
contacted the state of origin of the children, which was
Imo, and WOTCLEF brought the children back to Abuja for
eventual return to their worried mother, a widow who thought
her children were in the care of a generous distant
relative. The Nigerian Ambassador has set up a small center
in Libreville to provide shelter to other victims. Word has
spread among the Nigerian victims in Gabon that the Embassy
can help them. In response to this information, Imo State
sent an official delegation on a fact-finding mission to
Libreville. Upon return, they immediately began their new
public awareness campaign strategy as discussed above.
Training of other Nigerian consular officers and members of
the NPF anti-TIP Task Force in Lagos, appears informal and
minimal, though the IOM project mentioned previously plans
to provide a formal training regime for the Police.


G. The GON's Anti-TIP Task Force provides limited short-
term shelter for victims of trafficking returned to Nigeria.
The GON recently donated land in Lagos for a victim transit
shelter facility. This is facilitating the IOM's voluntary
repatriation program mentioned previously. Victims who test
positive for HIV/AIDS at the short-term shelter in Lagos are
turned over to the health commissions of their state of
origin for follow-on treatment and counseling.


H. Several NGOs are active on the anti-TIP front,
including: Eki Igbinedion's IDIA Renaissance in Edo; Bisi
Olateru-Olagberi's Women's Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON);
Titi Abubakar's WOTCLEF; the International Human Rights Law
Group; Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center
(WARDC); Project Alert On Violence Against Women; BAOBAB for
Women's Human Rights; Women, Law and Development Center;
Nigerian Association of University Women; Central
Educational Service; Women's Rights Watch Nigeria; National
Commission of Women in Religions' Committee for the Support
of the Dignity of Women; Federation of Women lawyers (FIDA).
The National Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons
(NACATIP) is an alliance of over a dozen NGOs to address
common interests and share information at regular meetings
or via email. These groups, particularly IDIA Renaissance
in Edo State, provide long-term comprehensive assistance to
trafficking victims without receiving federal funding. The
stated commitment of President Obasanjo to the fight against
TIP has not yet yielded funds for these local efforts to aid
trafficking victims.


6. Post's contacts on this issue have been Lorelei
Schweickert and Mark Taylor. For the remainder of 2003,
please contact Garace Reynard, +234-9-523-0916, 523-8001,
523-0960, mobile +234-803-402-1471, email
reynardga@state.gov.


7. Approximately 100 hours were spent by poloff (FS-5) in
the preparation of this report.


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