By Ozolua Uhakheme, Assistant Editor (Arts)
Barely a few days after she was made member Board of Trustees United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons’ (UNVTF), the Director-General National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dame Julie Okah-Donli has been appointed the new chair of the board.
She is the second Nigerian to serve in this capacity following Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, former UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. The new board held its first meeting on Friday, October 30, 2020. Dame Okah-Donli has since 2017 been a global voice on trafficking in person issues.
During her tenure at NAPTIP, she successfully lobbied the Government of Nigeria to extend its whistle-blowing policy to human trafficking issues, positively impacting the reporting of this crime in her home country.
She also established the NAPTIP Rapid Response Squad to counter criminal activity and piloted joint operations with Spain, the United Kingdom, and law enforcement agencies in the region. Through her expertise in communications, she has raised awareness about the issue of human trafficking in Nigeria, campaigning for more involvement of the private sector and individuals in fighting this crime, and even launching a weekly TV segment on local television on the topic. Other members of the board as appointed by the UN Secretary-General include:
Ms. Maria Susana V. Ople, President of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, Philippines; Dr. Viktoria Avakova, Health and Anti-trafficking project coordinator at UMCOR-NGO, Armenia;
Ms. Inge Vervotte, former Minister for Civil Service and Public Enterprises, Belgium; Mr. Alexis Bethancourt Yau, former Minister of Public Security, Panama.
All members will serve a three-year term and provide strategic guidance to UNODC Trust Fund Secretariat in the management of the Fund. The Chair of the Board is appointed for a one-year renewable term.