A group of 17 journalists from Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State, Nigeria, have benefited from the step-down training from one of the participants of the Thomson Reuters Foundation training on Reporting Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery held in Lagos for African Journalists.
The training was put together by Opera News content influencer and multimedia investigative freelance journalist, Elfredah Kevin-Alerechi who collaborated with the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Nigeria, to discuss these trending issues with Journalists.
The journalists, from the newspaper, websites and radio learnt more on the role the media needs to play in these issues, especially in Rivers State where human trafficking and Modern Day Slavery is resurfacing with different strategies. They were also taught on how to deal with survivors, why they shouldn’t pay money to survivors to tell their ordeals.
Often times, we find out that the media focus more on the everyday conventional stories and forget those under-reported but important issues, which human trafficking and modern-day slavery are among the under-reported stories, Elfredah told the journalists.
During her lecture on the theme; “The Role of Media in Reporting Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery”, she said, for journalists to report these issues there must be some collaboration with relevant sources and government agencies working on this.
“As journalists, investigation is necessary to bring this issue to the fore. These things happen around us every day but we are not sensitive enough to take notice of it. Except we dig deep, it is impossible to get a clearer picture of what happens around us,” she said.
She further urged journalists to carefully look around their environs, “you will surely notice a caregiver who changes maid monthly, you will also find out that some underage maids are forced against their wish and as such been exploited.”
After much discussions with the guest speakers from the Nigeria Immigration Services, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Dame, Dr Sotonye Donbraye, the Chief Protocol Officer of the Wife of the River State Governor, and journalists on dealing with survivors, the ethics and how journalists need to report their stories on human trafficking and modern-day slavery, Elfredah said, if survivors are paid to tell their stories there is a tendency of falsification because of the stipends they would get from the interviewer(s), therefore, journalists should desist from such.
“It is shocking that at this 25th Century, greed has made man to still engage in human trafficking and modern-day slavery,” said Barrister Young Ayo-Tamuno, Rivers State Director NOA, as he expresses displeasure over the issues in the state and the country at large.
Ayo-Tamuno urged journalists to focus on these issues as it happens every day and the role of the media in reporting these issues can never be overemphasized.
The Assistant Controller, Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Labour of the Nigeria Immigration, Rivers State command, Edwin Kponuko, disclosed that in the year 2018, a total of four hundred and fifty-four cases were recorded, seventy-eight people were arrested, four hundred and thirty-five victims were reunited to family, and one hundred and twenty-seven were referred to NAPTIP, adding that the causes of regular migration are the decadence of the value system, broken homes, crisis, poverty, and unemployment.
The State Coordinator of NAPTIP, Gloria Chinda, pointed out some causes of human trafficking including poverty, illiteracy, and perception, that Journalists should at all times play the watchdogs rules in reporting these issues.
With collaboration structure or template, all concerned agencies including the media would help fight these issues, said Mr Francis Okogun, who is a member of the Public Relations team and the Strike Force Unit of the NDLEA, Rivers State.
Speaking further, the Secretary to FIDA, Ambassador Esther Mabadeje, encouraged everyone to speak up and report these issues, adding that, stigmatization have made many survivors and parents to shy away from reporting to the relevant agencies, just as she assured FIDA’s relentless efforts in dealing with the perpetrators of any kind of abuse.
However, the Chief Protocol Officer of the Wife of the Rivers State Governor, Dame Donbraye advised everyone to be more sensitive within the neighbourhoods as many things are happening. She pleaded that the best legacy to the child is education, and education forgets wealth.
Some of the journalists expressed satisfaction with the issues raised, which they saw as an eye-opener, as they would now be more sensitive within their environment to report more of these human interest issues, they, however, appealed for more training saying, “one day is not enough for such an elaborate training, we hope to learn more,” said Woke Kevin.
Highlights of the event include sharing of anti-trafficking red card by NAPTIP, boldly written, “Stop Human Trafficking” to participants while the convener/facilitator, Elfredah was handed a NAPTIP profile by the Rivers State coordinator, Gloria Chinda, on behalf of the Director-General of NAPTIP, to report more stories of human trafficking and modern-day slavery with great impact.