Region tackles trafficking

Southern Africa is intensifying efforts to respond to rising trafficking in persons, which is now among the world’s fastest growing organized crimes.Trafficking in Persons (TIP) usually involves the illegal movement of an individual into a country for purposes of exploitation.

TIP also refers to the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threats or use of force for purposes of exploitation.

Traffickers thrive on the vulnerabilities created by a number of factors including poverty, conflicts and post conflict instabilities, gender inequality, unemployment, economic instability and a general lack of opportunities.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) remains a fertile ground for traffickers who target men, women, boys and girls who seek ‘better’ opportunities elsewhere.

To meet these challenges, SADC countries are strengthening their legal frameworks to combat trafficking in persons and ensure that citizens do not fall prey to such criminal activities.

A total of 13 SADC countries have taken measures to address the issue of trafficking in persons, and have set up anti-trafficking structures which help in supporting victims of trafficking.

These are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe and the remaining two — the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia are in the process of developing similar legislations.

The legislations are in line with the 10-year SADC Strategic Plan of Action on Combating Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children adopted by SADC.

Adopted by the SADC Council of Ministers in August 2009 in Kinshasa, DRC, the plan of action covers the period 2009 to 2019 with the aim of facilitating the establishment of an enabling policy and legislative environment to reduce trafficking in persons and enhance capacities of member states to implement comprehensive policies, strategies and legislation on trafficking in persons.

Speaking at a recent Regional Trafficking in Persons Research Validation Workshop held in late April in Johannesburg, South Africa, coordinator of the SADC Regional Political Cooperation Programme, Dr Joao Ndlovu said there is need for more research and documentation on the impact as well as how to curb trafficking in persons.

He urged the region to also tackle the surge of piracy, particularly in the SADC island states where a number of SADC citizens have fallen prey to trafficking in persons.

“We should not only concentrate on the SADC region but we should also look at pirates in the Indian Oceans who are trafficking young boys and men to work for them,” he said.

The Regional Trafficking in Persons Research Validation Workshop was held to validate the research findings of a research that had been carried out to provide SADC secretariat with up-to-date statistics on the nature, scope and trends of trafficking in persons in the region and to facilitate a coordinated approach to preventing and combating TIP in the region.

Additional information on TIP in the region was brought out in the validation workshop to help strengthen the research findings and the report.

The research covered southern Africa were the consultant visited member states to gather information on what member states are doing to curb the vice, the constraints they are facing such as capacity for implementation of the legislations. The research findings also included a draft directory which had contact information of shelters for TIP victims, organizations that provided legal assistance to victims as well as places to report TIP amongst others.  

Member states were urged help to strengthen the report by providing more information that still lack in the report.

The research validation workshop brought together a variety of experts, mostly from government ministries, who were responsible for issues to do with trafficking in persons and this gave the workshop rich discussions. – sardc.net

June 2015
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