The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill prohibiting trafficking in persons which prescribes a minimum of seven years imprisonment or a minimum fine of N1 million for offenders.
The Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Bill seeks to repeal and amend the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act of 2003.
The new bill, which seeks to stop the illegal trade of human trafficking, prescribes criminal punishment for any person found to have illegal custody of a child under the age of 18 years, sexually abuse or causes any person to be exploited.
The passage of the bill followed a clause by clause consideration of the report of the Senate joint committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters; and Women Affairs and Youth Development.
The repealed version of the bill had prescribed five years jail term or a fine of not less than N1 million.
The Senate also amended the bill by reducing the jail term for forced labour from seven years to five years and fine option of N2 million to N1 million.
“Any person who permits any place or premises to be used for the purpose of forced labour commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than five years and to a fine of not less than N1million,” the new bill stipulates.
The Senate Joint committees said the recommendation for a reduction was necessary as “to make it consistent with punishments for similar offences under the bill”.
The amended bill also prohibits the employment or procurement of children under the age of 12 as domestic servants and protects children generally from being used for exploitative, injurious or hazardous work.
“Any person who employs, requires, recruits, transports, harbours, receives or hires out, a child under the age of 12 as a domestic worker, commits an offence. If convicted, such an offender is liable to imprisonment for a minimum term of six months and not exceeding seven years,” it states.