The new Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act 2015 newly assented by President Goodluck Jonathan has barred the engagement of children under 12 years of age as domestic help.

Director-General of the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Person, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba, told journalists at her office in Abuja yesterday that the new law prescribed between two to 10 years jail term for such offenders.

According to Jedy-Agba, the new law imposes stiffer penalties on human trafficking offenders, adding that the abuse and exploitation of children under 12 years old who are being used as domestic help are aggravating circumstances that attract higher jail terms.

“What we have done is to introduce a minimum sentence status. For instance, if you engage a child of below 12 years, there is compulsory imprisonment of not less than two years. There is no option of fine. The fine is in addition to imprisonment.

“The judge, of course, also have the discretion to impose five or 10 years, depending on the circumstances and severe abuse.”

She said the prohibition of use of children under 12 years old was in line with government policy of compulsory education for children in the age bracket.

The NAPTIP boss also explained that the new Act amends the appointment and tenure of the Director-General.