The Director-General of Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Mrs Julie Okah-Donli, has been appointed as the new chair of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons (UNVTF).
A statement titled ‘Press release on appointment of DG NAPTIP as new chair of UNVTF’ by Olivia Okorondu of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said Okah-Donli would be the second Nigerian to serve in the capacity, following Ms Joy Ezeilo, a former UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children.
The statement described the new board chair, Ms Okah-Donli, as a global voice on trafficking in persons issues.
It added, “As NAPTIP DG, she established the NAPTIP Rapid Response Squad to counter criminal activities and pilot joint operations with Spain, the United Kingdom and law enforcement agencies in the region.
The statement quoted Okah-Donli as saying, “As I join the Board of Trustees for the next three years, I envisage an exciting future for the Fund as we seek to broaden and deepen its support and assistance to victims of trafficking all over the world in view of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on this vulnerable segment of our society.”
The Board’s additional members, as appointed by the UN Secretary-General, include:
Ms. Maria Susana V. Ople, President of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, Philippines;
Dr. Viktoria Avakova, Health and Anti-trafficking project coordinator at UMCOR-NGO, Armenia;
Ms. Inge Vervotte, former Minister for Civil Service and Public Enterprises, Belgium;
Mr. Alexis Bethancourt Yau, former Minister of Public Security, Panama.
All members will serve a three-year term and provide strategic guidance to the UNODC Trust Fund Secretariat in the management of the Fund. The Chair of the Board is appointed for a one-year renewable term.
The General Assembly, established the UNODC-managed UNVTF, to provide humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of trafficking in persons.
Since its inception 10 years ago, the UN Voluntary Trust Fund has awarded 4.6 million USD in grants to almost 90 NGO projects, directly assisting more than 3,500 victims of human trafficking per year, from around the world.
NAPTIP was created in 2003 as Nigeria’s response to addressing the scourge of trafficking in persons. It is a fulfillment of the country’s international obligation under the Trafficking in Persons Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Transnational Organized Crime Convention (UNTOC).
Nigeria became a signatory to the Transnational Organized Crime Convention and its Trafficking in Persons Protocol on 13th December, 2000. Article 5 of the Trafficking Protocol enjoins States Parties to criminalize practices and conduct that subject human beings to all forms of exploitation which includes in the minimum sexual and labour exploitation.