The Spanish National Police and the FIIAPP combat human trafficking in Nigeria and Niger
A total of 25 National Police officers are currently posted in international cooperation projects carried out with the FIIAPP around the world, of which 17 are deployed in international anti-trafficking projects in West African countries, financed by the European Union. The fight against trafficking is a priority within the powers assigned to the National Police, in addition to being a complex criminal activity with a clear international framework, which is faced from an international police cooperation perspective that encompasses all its levels.
Africa is the second region in the world, behind Asia, with the most victims of trafficking. In 2020 alone, 28,500 cases were registered. Nine out of ten victims in the world are women and girls. Most of the outward flows of human trafficking in Western and Southern Europe originate from sub-Saharan Africa. Many are for sexual exploitation while trafficking networks within the West African region focus on labor exploitation.
Organ trafficking, sports competitions or pilgrimage trips are rising trends in human trafficking in Nigeria, according to a study by the European police cooperation project A-TIPSOM Nigeria.
“Working in the countries of origin is essential to dismantle the trafficking mafias. The exploitation of people, be it sexual, labor or for organ trafficking, is one of the worst crimes and the National Police has protocols and reference mechanisms to share with the world”, explains Rafael Ríos, police inspector and coordinator of the A-TIPSOM project. Nigeria which, financed by the European Union, mobilizes members of the Security Forces and Bodies to work with their counterparts in Nigeria.
Ríos sums up the achievements of an emblematic anti-trafficking project after four years of execution: “We have worked hand in hand in prevention, so that potential victims in rural or disadvantaged areas can identify the mechanisms of mafia recruitment. We have rehabilitated 17 care centers for victims in the country -a fundamental protection so that when they are released they do not fall into a new victimization-, we have promoted legislative measures and protocols so that all the actors involved (for example, immigration institutions, security and equality ) are coordinated, and we have collaborated with formations and technical means that have substantially increased the number of traffickers arrested and convicted”.
The police officer also highlights the important return that this type of project has for Europe when it comes to bringing administrations closer: “now any request for information issued by countries such as Spain, France, the Netherlands or Italy is attended to by the Nigerian authorities with much greater efficiency”, which allows an approach to the problem in origin and destination of trafficking.
A recent study carried out by the project pointed to cultural or sports and religious visits as tactics increasingly used by human traffickers. The police have developed numerous prevention activities in the country based on the use of social networks, both so that potential victims know how to identify these hoaxes and to identify the perpetrators.
Reduction in the number of victims in Niger
Four National Police officers participate in the ECI-Niger European project, with the aim of fighting criminal networks in this country through the creation of a joint investigation team (ECI) within the Central Service for the Fight against Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime (SCLCT/CTO). “When our project started, we found in the desert, in deplorable conditions, more than 2,000 people who were victims of trafficking networks. This year there have only been 20, which gives us wings to continue cooperating until no more people are victims of trafficking, whether for the purpose of sexual exploitation, labor or children for begging,” says Fernando Guerrero, a national police officer who He arrived in the country almost four years ago to coordinate the European project ECI-Niger.
Guerrero points out that one of the most important challenges is overcoming the cultural taboos that often sustain trafficking. “One of our latest interventions with the Nigerien National Police has been aimed at dismantling groups of marabouts who, in the form of supposed Koranic schools, forced boys and girls to beg in the street.” Guerrero points out that they are currently focusing on improving care for victims in police stations: “we want to guarantee a protected legal asset such as human dignity.”
25 police officers displaced in international cooperation projects with the FIIAPP
From the International Cooperation Division, the actions promoted both at a bilateral level and at a multilateral level through the participation of national police in these international projects carried out in the countries of origin are considered essential at a strategic level in the fight against trafficking in human beings. All of this will make it possible to create an atmosphere of mutual trust with their authorities through joint daily work with the same goal, in addition to knowing and understanding the specific and unique problems of each country.
“The National Police is one of the Spanish institutions most committed to international cooperation. They work hand in hand with gendarmeries, police and justice institutions from other countries in areas such as police investigation, the fight against organized crime, the dismantling of trafficking networks and migrants, or the protection of public spaces from terrorist attacks. At FIIAPP we are convinced that security and peace are pillars for development and we work to mobilize the public talent of Spanish institutions in this direction”, explains Lourdes Sartorius, deputy director of Security, Peace and Development at FIIAPP. 25 police officers are currently posted with FIIAPP around the world,