Zimbabwe Country Narrative : US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2010

As we highlighted in the previous post, the TIP 2010 Report by the US State Department is now out and we had promised that we would make subsequent posts on the report particularly focusing on SADC countries. SAAHTT is currently operating from Harare, Zimbabwe and so we begin with the Zimbabwean country narrative below.



In the 2009 TIP report, Zimbabwe was in Tier 3 and it remains in Tier 3 in the 2010 report. Countries are placed in tiers, ranging from Tier 1-3. The Tier placements are explained as follows:

TIER 1 –Countries whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards. TIER 2- Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. TIER 2 WATCH LIST- Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards, AND: a) the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing; b) there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or, c) the determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year. TIER 3 -Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so

It is therefore very unfortunate that Zimbabwe continues to be classified as Tier 3 and this despite evidence of cases of trafficking. There is still perhaps a real sense of denial within government and indeed among other stakeholders with regards to the occurrence of trafficking. The Zimbabwe country narrative in this TIP report however, reports of cases in which Zimbabweans were trafficked to countries as far as China and also notes how trafficking around border towns has increased and how the country continues to be a route for traffickers. Perhaps, the only positive note is that there has been a bit of awareness raising that has been conducted by IOM albeit focusing more on safe migration. As a country, we therefore fail when it comes to the 3 Ps (Prosecution, Protection and Prevention). Part of the problem is that there is no anti-trafficking legislation thus cases of child abuse or prostitution are treated in a very narrow sense that fails to take into account the possibility of trafficking. There are a whole host of issues that need unpacking and we will do so in later posts. Below is the verbatim Zimbabwe country narrative from the TIP 2010 Report.


Zimbabwe is a country of origin, transit, and destination for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor and forced prostitution. Zimbabwean women and girls from towns bordering South Africa and Zambia are forced into prostitution in brothels that cater to long-distance truck drivers. Some of these victims are subsequently moved across the border for continued exploitation. Zimbabwean men, women, and children from rural areas are subjected to forced agricultural labor and domestic servitude, or are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation and subjected to involuntary domestic servitude in cities and towns. Young men and boys are forced by Zimbabwean government security forces to work in the diamond fields of Marange district. Zimbabwean young men and boys illegally migrate to South Africa, where some are forced to labor for months on farms or in mines and in construction without pay before their employers report them to authorities for deportation. Women and men are lured into exploitative labor situations in Angola, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and South Africa with false promises of jobs in construction, information technology, and hospitality. Some may end up victims of trafficking. Young women and girls are also lured to China, Egypt, the United Kingdom, and Canada under false pretenses, and then subjected to commercial sexual exploitation. Men, women, and children from Bangladesh, Somalia, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia are trafficked through Zimbabwe en route to South Africa. Foreign women and children are trafficked for labor and commercial sexual exploitation from communities near the borders with the four surrounding countries. A small number of trafficked South African girls are exploited in Zimbabwe in involuntary domestic servitude.

The Government of Zimbabwe does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. While the government showed increased interest in trafficking issues and began to provide anti-trafficking training to some public servants, officials made no apparent efforts to proactively identify victims of trafficking. Members of government security services forced men and boys to perform hard labor in diamond mines.

Recommendations for Zimbabwe: Cease security forces’ use of local populations for forced diamond mining; prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders; advance comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; formalize procedures for interviewing victims and transferring them to the care of NGOs; incorporate trafficking crimes into police procedures for recording and reporting crime data; actively support the trafficking hotline; and launch a broad awareness-raising campaign that educates all levels of government officials, as well as the general public, on the nature of trafficking and the availability of assistance for victims.

The Government of Zimbabwe did not record or release information on the number of trafficking investigations, prosecutions, or convictions it pursued in the last year. Zimbabwean law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, though existing statutes outlaw forced labor and numerous forms of sexual exploitation. Forced labor offenses are punishable by a fine or two years’ imprisonment, or both; these penalties are not sufficiently stringent. Because trafficking is not a crime according to Zimbabwean law, police do not note whether related crimes such as child prostitution involve elements of trafficking. There have been no reports of prosecutions or convictions for forced labor or forced prostitution offenses during the reporting period. Resource constraints in the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the judiciary continued to hinder anti-trafficking law enforcement activity. Police lack human, financial, and other resources to conduct proper investigations. Significant delays in the court system often led to detainees remaining in custody for several years before their cases were tried in court. Police and other officials forged partnerships with counterparts in South Africa in order to investigate and prosecute transnational trafficking cases. In summer 2009, seven Zimbabwean men were recruited in Zimbabwe by a Chinese national for jobs with a Chinese-owned construction company in Angola. On arrival, their passports were confiscated and they were subjected to forced labor. Some of the victims returned to Zimbabwe and filed civil complaints against the Chinese recruiter for financial restitution. Law enforcement sources report that the case is progressing slowly in the Zimbabwean labor courts. Police and anti-corruption commission officials have interviewed the victims, but have not filed charges. Human rights organizations, international organization sources, and diamond industry experts continued to report that the Government of Zimbabwe condoned and participated in labor trafficking crimes in the Marange district, where military personnel forced local men and boys to work in the diamond mines. In 2009, the Zimbabwe Republic Police Training Department actively worked with IOM on all of its 2010 counter-trafficking training programs for law enforcement.

The Zimbabwean government provided trafficking victims with some protection and continued to ensure victims’ access to shelter and care services provided by NGOs and international organizations. Although the government has a formal process for referring some victims to international organizations and NGOs for services, the government continued to depend on these organizations to identify trafficking victims and alert the authorities. Its primary partner in addressing human trafficking was IOM, which trained social service providers and NGOs in providing trafficking victims safe shelter, psycho-social support, family tracing, and reunification. The Department of Social Welfare lacked funds to adequately assist victims; it routinely referred internal and transnational trafficking victims to shelters run by local and international NGOs offering specialized services within their existing programs. The government did not keep records about trafficking-related incidents, and could not provide data on how many trafficking victims officials had referred to these facilities. IOM reported it provided assistance to at least 11 trafficking victims in 2009. Trained Department of Social Welfare staff referred identified victims to safe houses where short, medium, and long-term assistance could be provided. The Department of Immigration required all deportees from South Africa and Botswana to attend an IOM briefing on safe migration, which includes a discussion of trafficking. In the past, the government encouraged victims to assist in the prosecution of traffickers, but was believed to have not prosecuted any traffickers during the reporting period. The government did not inappropriately incarcerate or otherwise penalize identified victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The law provides foreign victims with relief from removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution, although not all trafficking victims who wished to stay in Zimbabwe were routinely provided such relief. In July 2009, 27 Indian men believed to be victims of traffickers were held in Harare Central police station for two weeks for immigration violations before they were deported. Victims may file civil suits against trafficking offenders under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which provides for victim restitution and compensation. In order to file a civil suit, however, victims must stay in Zimbabwe and overcome serious administrative hurdles in the overcrowded court system. With the exception of deportees from South Africa and Botswana, the government’s law enforcement, immigration, and social services did not have a formal system for proactively identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations.

The government demonstrated some efforts to prevent trafficking. An inter-ministerial task force on trafficking made up of senior government officials that was established in 2006 still lacks a national plan of action and an operational working group. The group met during the reporting period, but it has not implemented any significant plans to date. Government officials attended and led portions of 15 sector-specific training workshops in partnership with IOM. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and UNICEF have agreements with 21 NGOs to advance the National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, designed to ensure their access to education, food, health services, and birth registrations as a means of protecting them from abuse and exploitation. Orphans without birth certificates are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in forced labor and prostitution. The government did not directly fund any trafficking awareness programs, but the state-run media continued to print and air messages about the dangers of illegal migration, false employment scams, underage and forced marriages, prostitution, and exploitative labor conditions. Information regarding measures adopted by the government to ensure its nationals deployed to peacekeeping missions did not facilitate or engage in trafficking was unavailable. Zimbabwe is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


One thought on “Zimbabwe Country Narrative : US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2010

  1. Pingback: A look at Zambia: The US State Department 2010 TIP report « Stop Human Trafficking in Southern Africa!

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