Windhoek – Southern Africa has made strides in combatting crimes associated with human trafficking, with bilateral agreements serving to advance efforts to end the scourge.
A recent United States government report says traffickers in the region have largely targeted people in Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The victims are often trafficked for purposes of commercial sex work, domestic servitude and agricultural labour.
The report says, “The Namibian government entered into bilateral law enforcement co-operation agreements with Zimbabwe and Angola and increased efforts to protect trafficking victims by identifying and referring more victims to care.”
It goes on to applaud Namibia’s government for meeting minimum standards for elimination of human trafficking.
“These achievements included finalising implementing regulations for the Trafficking in Persons Act of 2018, significantly increasing the number of prosecutions, convicting and sentencing one trafficker, and training front-line responders.
“The government identified more victims, referred a higher percentage of identified victims to care, and partially funded two NGO shelters that provided protective services for victims.
“More victims voluntarily participated with law enforcement investigations, and the government provided victim witnesses with protective services.”
Key among the reasons cited for the reduced trafficking in persons were regular meetings of the Namibian anti-trafficking co-ordination body, nationwide awareness campaigns, increased training of front-line responders, and use of Southern Africa Development Community regional data collection tools to gather and organise trafficking data.
The report called for more training of staff responsible for combating human trafficking in the region.
“Recommendations are made to … strengthen co-ordination among government ministries to ensure roles and responsibilities are clear and anti-trafficking policies are increasingly effective. Improve communication between government ministries and civil society.
“Continue to ensure all identified victims are referred to protective and rehabilitative services. Increase funding to civil society partners that provide accommodation and care to trafficking victims to ensure they have adequate resources.”
The report pointed out that victims of human trafficking in Namibia often ended up on private farms, in domestic servitude, or as sex workers in Windhoek and Walvis Bay.
“Namibians commonly house and care for children of distant relatives to provide expanded educational opportunities; however, in some instances, traffickers exploit these children in forced labour.
“Among Namibia’s ethnic groups, San and Zemba children are particularly vulnerable to forced labour on farms or in homes. Traffickers may subject children from less affluent neighbouring countries to sex trafficking and forced labour, including in street vending in Windhoek and other cities as well as in the fishing sector.
“Traffickers may bring Angolan children to Namibia for forced labour in cattle herding, agricultural work, and domestic servitude,” the report said.