A look at Zambia: The US State Department 2010 TIP report

In the previous TIP feature post we blogged on Zimbabwe. In this, the second feature on SADC countries and how they fare in the latest TIP report, we focus on Zambia. But unlike the Zimbabwe feature, we will not paste the actual word for word transcript of the Zambian country narrative in the TIP 2010 report. Instead, we will just feature, key takeaways or main points from the report. This change has been largely necessitated by the feedback we have gotten from the first post on Zimbabwe to the effect that the post was too long and therefore people found it onerous to read. So you have spoke and we have listened :).  We will just pick up the main points and link to the full Zambian narrative in the TIP report.

Zambia is ranked as a Tier 2 country-this means that Zambia does not comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s ( TVPA’s) minimum standards (minimum standards to eliminate trafficking) but is making significant efforts to do so. So this is quite commendable. Although there is still a lot the country can do to address trafficking. It remains a source, transit and destination country for people who are then forced into commercial sexual exploitation and or forced labour. Most of the trafficking that occurred in the period under review was internal trafficking or trafficking within the borders of Zambia. In some rural areas in Zambia it is considered a status symbol to have children in the urban areas and thus families sometimes send their children to urban areas where they fall prey to traffickers or are forced into forced domestic servitude. There were also reports and suspicion of trafficking in the Copperbelt mining areas as Chinese and Indian migrants are forced to work the mines in inhospitable conditions and living in totally secluded living quarters. Trafficking to South Africa through Zambia was also reported as the country has porous borders.



So what is the country doing to eliminate all forms of human trafficking? Here’s what:

Prosecution– there was a noted increase in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts (Zambia has a comprehensive Anti-Human Trafficking Act which was passed in 2008). Two men were prosecuted under the new act which carries a sentence of up to 25 years. There are nine new trafficking prosecutions that are pending. In terms of capacity building, the government in partnership with IOM distributed simplified copies of the new anti-trafficking law at border towns or areas in Zambia. A total of 120 police offices with specific anti trafficking training graduated from the local police training academy. Local NGOs involved in anti-trafficking also trained the police, police prosecutors, local court justices and magistrates in the skills necessary for investigating and prosecuting child trafficking cases. In addition, the Zambian Police’s Victim Support Unit (VSU) forged a partnership with an NGO to revise its data collection on trafficking to improve monitoring and reporting.

Protection– The government of Zambia has not developed or implemented systematic procedures for the identification of trafficking victims and there is no formal mechanism for referring victims to NGOs for protective services. Other projects for victim protection such as is mandated by its anti trafficking law, e.g. setting up of shelters for victims, have not funded. However, officials informally referred 33 victims to IOM for protection services. In addition, the government did not penalise victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Kudos!

Prevention-The Cabinet approved a National Plan of Action on human trafficking and established an inter-ministerial anti trafficking secretariat. The government was also part of IOM’s ‘Break the Chain of Human Trafficking Campaign’. To counter the high incidences of internal trafficking, 50 traditional leaders or chiefs were engaged and trained on anti human trafficking. This is in recognition of the family unit in rural areas and the respect, authority and responsibility the traditional chiefs command. The Police’s VSU featured trafficking on its weekly ‘Police and You’ radio campaign. The government also supported various efforts by partners by high level attendance, participation, issuing public statements and seconding speakers.

It is evident that the country still has a long way to go in terms eliminating human trafficking in all its forms. While there is a law in place there is still a need to build capacity to enforce this law, there is still a need to integrate this law into other legislative instrument like the immigration law. There is still a need to raise awareness among the local populace and build capacity to address human trafficking among law enforcement agencies and government officials. However, Zambia is one of the few countries in southern Africa that is taking significant strides to counter human trafficking and the government of Zambia, NGOs and other stakeholders/partners in the country should be lauded for this

Would really appreciate your comments.

Gilbert Makore