Saturday, August 16, 2008

South Africa: Bill to Allow for Prosecution of All Forms of Human Trafficking


By Gabi Khumalo

August 15, 2008

Legislation is being formulated that will allow for the prosecution of all forms of human trafficking.

"The draft Bill (the Trafficking in Persons Bill) allows for all forms of human trafficking to be prosecuted including labour exploitation and not only sexual exploitation," said National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA's) Sexual Offences and Community Affairs (SOCA) Unit, National Co-ordinator, Malebo Kotu-Rammopo.

She said that in the absence of specific legislation criminalising the offence, the NPA has encountered unique problems in ensuring an adequate response to the occurrences of this phenomenon.

"Prosecutions have proceeded on an ad hoc basis overtly demonstrable to the facts such as kidnapping, indecent assault and rape, which do not individually attract as heavy sentences as a specific trafficking in persons would impose," Ms Malebo Kotu-Rammopo said.

The absence of legislation also limits prosecutors to deal with only the perpetrator directly linked to the offences, while excluding the perpetrators behind the scenes, which is often an organised crime activity.

Giving an update on the country's strategy to counter human trafficking, Ms Kotu-Rammopo said last year the country had signed and ratified the United Nations Convention Against Translational Organised Crime and the Parlemo Protocol.

The protocol aims to prevent, suppress and punish human trafficking, especially among women and children.It also obliges member states to criminalise trafficking in persons, investigate and prosecute traffickers as well as undertake border control measures.

The SOCA, together with Government and civil society, has also established an Inter-sectoral Task Team to develop a programme to co-ordinate a comprehensive strategy to counter human trafficking.

The strategy, which started after the government received the protocol in 2007, would lead to the adoption of a National Action Plan as required by the Palermo Protocol.

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