Saturday, May 10, 2008

Human Trafficking in Zambia

By Kasuba Mulenga

From the Zambia Daily Mail:

Forty-two Congolese nationals on a human trafficking mission to South Africa have been intercepted and detained by the Immigration Department in Lusaka.

Immigration Department public relations officer, Mulako Mbangweta, said in Lusaka yesterday that 26 of those arrested in Lusaka last week were yesterday repatriated to the Democratic Republic of Congo while 16 were still in detention in Kabwe.

“We could not detain the Congolese nationals who were arrested in Lusaka because most of them are women with children as young as six months old,” Ms Mbangweta said.

She said the ones in Kabwe would remain in detention until the department completed its investigations. Those repatriated were arrested in Lusaka’s Kanyama Township some five days ago.“

From the interviews we have conducted so far, they look like they were being trafficked to South Africa. When people are being trafficked, they do not know where they are going and where they are,” she said.

Immigration officers arrested 16 Congolose nationals in Kabwe last week and picked up leads from them that another larger group had proceeded to Lusaka.

An unknown group of human traffickers is behind the scheme to move the Congolese nationals to South Africa.

Read the full article

More info on human trafficking law in Zambia from the U.S. Department of State:

There were reports that persons were trafficked to, from, and within the country. The law prohibits the trafficking of any person for any purpose, but it does not define trafficking. Persons convicted of trafficking were subject to a term of imprisonment from 20 years to life. The law had not been used to prosecute a case of trafficking at year's end. Convictions of the crimes of abduction, assault, or seeking to have sex with a minor could be punished with sentences up to life imprisonment with hard labor.

The government did not collect or maintain data on the extent or nature of trafficking in the country; however, trafficking, particularly in the form of child prostitution was believed to be significant. Female citizens were trafficked within the country and to other parts of Africa and to Europe, and the country was used as a transit point for regional trafficking of women for prostitution. Traffickers fraudulently obtained Zambian travel documents for their victims before proceeding to other destinations. During the year there were reliable reports that women were trafficked to the country for commercial sex work.

Through its social welfare agencies, the government provided counseling, shelter, and protection to victims of child prostitution or referred victims to NGOs that provided such services. There was no formal screening or referral process. In some cases victims have been placed in protective custody at rehabilitation centers or victim support shelters operated by NGOs.

When government officials understand that individuals are victims of trafficking, they do not treat victims as criminals. In identified cases, victims have not been detained, jailed, deported, or prosecuted for violations of other laws. When trafficking investigations have substantiated allegations, the government has encouraged victims to assist with investigation and prosecution. The government did not have its own means of protecting victims and witnesses; however, it arranged for protective custody and security protection through facilities operated by NGOs.

I wonder why in the above article the journalist reports that the trafficking victims being "detained"? Will they be charged with violating other laws as seems possible from the Department of State's report? In what cases does the Zambian government prosecute trafficking victims and does this make sense within the scope of how other countries have structured their human trafficking law? Because one of the underlying factors of trafficking is coercion and deceit, is it just to charge trafficking victims for a crime they did not necessarily intend to commit? I think not.

And lastly, how can you effectively prosecute traffickers if the law doesn't define what trafficking is? That having been said, there has been one conviction since the human trafficking law and the government is making efforts to combat trafficking, but there is clearly a long way to go.

From the Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report:

Zambia's government sustained a weak anti-trafficking law enforcement effort over the reporting period. Zambia prohibits all forms of trafficking through a 2005 amendment to its penal code, which prescribes penalties of 20 years to life in prison - penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for rape.

The statute does not, however, define trafficking or set out the elements of the offense, thus limiting its utility. The government obtained its first conviction under this statute during the reporting period, but it took minimal additional law enforcement action against traffickers exploiting Zambian children.

During the year, the government, with outside technical help, began drafting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law and policy. In March, police in Serenje arrested a man for attempting to sell his 10-year old son for the equivalent of $215. In January 2007, the High Court found him guilty of trafficking under the 2005 penal code amendment, and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

In April 2006, immigration officials detained two Chinese women suspected to be trafficking victims as they attempted to board a flight to London using forged travel documents; their handler escaped before he could be taken into custody.

No comments:

Post a Comment