How Namibia fares in the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report

Some people have written to ask why SAAHTT as an organisation focuses on the whole SADC region. Addressing trafficking within the SADC bloc as a whole is indeed a very daunting task. In fact, human trafficking alone is big enough a problem without even going further to look at human trafficking within all the SADC states. However, for us this represents an innovative approach to the whole challenge of trafficking. While there is internal trafficking, it is commonly understood that human trafficking involves the crossing of national borders. It is essentially a transnational crime and therefore any effective attempt to address it should be focused on bordering countries.

We continue with our analysis of the US State Department Human Trafficking Report of 2010. So we have looked at Zimbabwe and Zambia and clearly Zambia is making significant efforts to address human trafficking. This is particularly in view of the enactment of its Anti-Human Trafficking Act. In this post we will go on to look at Namibia. The country is a Tier 2 country-it does not comply with the minimum standards of the addressing trafficking but is making significant efforts to comply or to address the crime. With regards to minimum standards, the benchmark is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). We will explain more on the TVPA in a later post suffice to state that it is a landmark legislative instrument in the United States that is used to combat trafficking.

Namibia

Namibia

Namibia is a source, transit and destination country for victims of trafficking. Children are trafficked and forced into child labour in agriculture, domestic servitude and charcoal production among other things. They are also transported by truck drivers to countries such as Angola and South Africa and are forced into prostitution.

We will use the same format we used to look at the Zambian country narrative, the same format in the Trafficking in Persons Report. We will look at the three P’s, which is, Prosecution, Protection and Prevention.

Prosecution: The National police and the Ministry of Justice did not handle any trafficking cases in 2009. The government, however, enacted the Prevention of Organised Crime Act which explicitly criminalises all forms of human trafficking. The penalties for traffickers are sufficiently deterrent as traffickers can be incarcerated for up to 50 years. Other pieces of legislation such as the Labour Act and the Draft Child Care and Protection Bill sufficiently or will sufficiently address forced labour and child rights issues. The police ran an anti trafficking hotline for suspected trafficking cases tip-offs.

Protection: Due to the lack of financial capacity to offer support to victims of trafficking, the Government of Namibia worked to ensure victims access services offered by non state actors. The government has no formal procedure of referring victims to organisations that can assist although the police have the responsibility of ensuring that victims access short term shelter and assistance. Over a 100 cases of child labour were handled by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare while the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare handled 3 trafficking cases. The MGECW also created a national database for gender based violence and this will also contain statistics on forced labour and trafficking. Government officials also began renovating 13 houses across the country to house victims of violence and trafficking although these safe houses will mainly cater for women. It is also important to note that there is still limited understanding of what constitutes trafficking thereby giving rise to concern that some victims of trafficking may have slipped through the system.

Prevention: The government launched a country wide media campaign to raise awareness on gender based violence and trafficking encouraging people to report suspected cases. The Ministry of Home Affairs worked with UNICEF and came to an agreement to have offices at hospitals and to deploy mobile units to provide birth certificates to newborns and identity documents to orphans and vulnerable children. Although there was training for some government officials, the numbers were fewer than the training provided in the year 2008.

While the country took the notable step of enacting anti trafficking legislation there is now clearly the need to build capacity to enforce this legislation. There is also a need to continue to conduct anti trafficking awareness raising campaigns. The government should also come up with formal procedures of referring victims to non government agencies especially as it currently does not the capacity to assist trafficking victims. For the full Namibia country narrative in the Trafficking in Persons report go here.

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