NAPTIP charges Judges, prosecutors to secure more convictions for SGBV perpetrators

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP), on Thursday charged judges across the country to give more commitment to cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.

The Director-General of NAPTIP, Professor Fatima Waziri-Azi, urged them to bring out more convictions on SGBV cases, to serve as a deterrent to intending perpetrators of such crimes.

She made the call in Abuja on Thursday at a one-day Technical Retreat for Judges and Prosecutors of the agency, with the theme, “Strengthening government approach in prevention of SGBV”.

Waziri-Azi, equally charged prosecutors to do their part by securing more prosecution of perpetrators, to reduce the crime in society.

The NAPTIP boss further pleaded with the judges to ensure that the punishment mete out to SGBV perpetrators is commensurate with the magnitude of the offence committed.

“If there are punishments that don’t commensurate with the offence, it is heartbreaking for the agency. In a case that had to do with the rape of a five-year-old, if the perpetrator is given an option of a fine, this would not go down well with NAPTIP.

“The criminal justice system must be made to work, NAPTIP want to hear quality convictions on SGBV cases. NAPTIP will also like to see compensation being paid to victims as provided in the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (2015).

“This must be in addition to imprisonment and fine, Judges are not talking about compensation for victims, although, no amount of money can measure up to what the victim would have passed through.

“Most of these victims are poor, but the compensation will help them to rebuild their lives. The current state of affairs in the country must change, or else, all hope will be lost.

“This retreat is to create a platform for the judges and prosecutors to share their unique experiences in trying to prosecute SGBV cases.

“I urge the prosecuting counsel to take advantage of this opportunity, listen and learn from the judges on how to carry on in the courtroom,” she said.

The DG pleaded with Kano State, which is yet to domesticate the Child Rights Acts, to do so to protect the right of children.

She disclosed that FCT now has six designated courts to handle SGBV cases and that progress had been made to curb SGBV due to awareness creation.

Waziri-Azi revealed that the agency received several reports from the FCT on domestic violence in 2022 and 2023, adding that some convictions have been made in this regard.

According to her, African countries are coming to understudy NAPTIP activities to establish their own anti-trafficking agency, and the latest among them is Sierra Leone.

The Administrator of the National Judicial Institute, Justice Salisu Garba, opined that the courts has an immense role to play in the fight against SGBV.

Represented by the Director of Study, Mr. Oluomo Abdulazeez, he stated that the courts are not only there to ensure that perpetrators are convicted, but to protect victims from incidental issues that would affect them negatively.

He commended the courts for providing a conducive environment for witnesses and victims of SGBV and urged them to sustain the measures to achieve more justice.

Garba also commended NAPTIP and urged it to continue to put a lot of effort into curbing the instances and effects of SGBV, and prohibition of trafficking in persons in Nigeria.

He said prosecution of SGBV cases must be done in accordance with the rule of law, and that the human rights of all parties are respected, and proper procedures followed.

Director, Legal and Prosecution, NAPTIP, Mr. Hassan Tahir, while highlighting the objective of the retreat said it was meant to expose NAPTIP prosecutors to the rudiments of prosecuting SGBV cases to enhance conviction.

He said that the retreat would also help to enhance minimal justice performance and response to SGBV cases, as well as enhance the capacity of the justice sector in appreciation of the current trend of SGBV.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the retreat was sponsored by the Ford Foundation.

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