Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), is calling for an international inquiry to identify and prosecute the traffickers behind the recent deaths of 26 Nigerian women on the Italian coast city of Salerno.
According to NAPTIP, the number of deaths of Nigerians on the Mediterranean Sea runs into thousands.
There should be “a high level investigation by the United Nations (into) this incident and others along the Mediterranean region”, the agency said. “We need to know the identities of the owners of the rickety boats as well as their owners, so they can be prosecuted.”
The central Mediterranean route from the coast of Libya to Italy is currently the principle route of undocumented migrants, most of whom are Nigerians.
Numbers have increased because of unemployment and recession in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, 13 European and African ministers met this week and pledged steps to ease the migrant crisis around the Mediterranean, vowing especially to improve conditions for migrants held in Libya.
Mali’s Minister for African Integration, Abdramane Sylla, welcomed the joint efforts to stop the humanitarian tragedy. Illegal migration and human trafficking must be tackled, he said, but in the long run European countries must offer more visas to allow for legal paths of migration.
Swiss human rights organizations, however, were unconvinced by the proposals. Solidarity Without Borders, for one, dismissed the conference as a talk shop, pointing out that European countries cooperate with regimes guilty of crimes against human rights.
“The main problem (with current migration policy) is that it fights the symptoms rather than the causes,” said Dr. Lutz Oette, director of the Center for Human Rights Law at SOAS, University of London. “It does so by partnering with governments in a region that has serious governance and human rights problems. So it’s very unlikely that you can actually combat trafficking and smuggling, as long as the actual root causes are still in place.”