This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS ABUJA 000820
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