Cabinet plans to tackle trafficking

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Cabinet says it has finally approved the Principles of the Trafficking in Persons (Amendment) Bill which seeks to strengthen the current legislation and align it with international standards and the requirements of the Parlemo Protocol and the 2000 United Nations (UN) TIP Protocol.

Zimbabwe has been making concerted efforts to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and beef up its laws and other frameworks in the fight against the scourge of trafficking which had made the country a preferred destination for forced labour and sex trafficking.

Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Kazembe Kazembe said cabinet had considered and approved the Bill to strengthen its current legislation and achieve a number of other objectives.

“The nation is informed that the Bill seeks to strengthen the current legislation. The Bill’s objective is to achieve the following, to amend the definition of Trafficking in Persons, to highlight scenarios where victims of trafficking in persons may not be made liable to certain criminal offences, to elaborate on the assistance to be rendered to the victims of trafficking in persons and to specify on the repatriation of victims of trafficking to and from Zimbabwe,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told the 10th post cabinet media briefing in Harare.

 “In more detail, the Bill would provide for the following; establishing the criminal offence of trafficking in persons in line with the Parlemo Protocol and the definition of the Bill will also include the definition of forced labour or service exploitation in relation to the crime of human trafficking, such as all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, sexual exploitation, prostitution, child and adult pornography, debt bondage, servitude, forced labour and services, child labour, unlawful removal of body organs, forced marriage, impregnation of a female person against her will for the purpose of selling her child when the child is born.

“Other provisions of the Bill will cover the following; non-liability of victims of trafficking, assistance to victims, access to information, repatriation of victims of trafficking to and from Zimbabwe, recovery and ad reflection period, procedure for the identification of victims of trafficking and circumstances for the granting of a Temporary and Permanent Residence Permit.”

Minister Kazembe added that the Bill would help to promote liaison between the Anti-Trafficking Inter-Ministerial Committee and other government agencies.

“The Bill will further provide for the strengthening of the Anti-Trafficking Inter-Ministerial Committee (ATIMC) by providing for the Committee’s liaison with appropriate Government agencies and other bodies in the investigation and presentation of traffickers, the protections and rehabilitation of victims and the prevention of trafficking in persons. The Bill will also provide for the establishment of a Secretariat to the ATIMC and create an Anti-Trafficking in Persons Fund and determine the terms for its use,” he said.

Zimbabwe Anti-Trafficking Committee head of the Trafficking in Persons Secretariat Prisca Madziviridze welcomed the approval of the Amendment Bill which she said would go a long way to clearly define the Trafficking in Persons Act while addressing the scourge of trafficking which has become rampant in the country.

“What has been approved by cabinet are the principles to the Trafficking in Persons Act. The principles will go a long way to try and amend our definition of trafficking in persons. As you might be aware, the current act does not define exploitation so this aims at including exploitation and the forms of exploitation in the definition of human trafficking,” said Madziviridze.

“Human trafficking has been very prevalent in our country. We have had the Kuwait cases and currently we are dealing with a case involving victims who are in Oman and repatriate them. We have also managed to apprehend some of the traffickers and some of the people who were involved with these ladies. A delegation is going to be sent to Oman and consultations are underway with the Oman authorities to make sure that the visas our ladies are using to go to Oman are legitimate ones.”

CEO of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) Virginia Muwanigwa said the adoption of the amendment bill by cabinet was a step in the right direction towards solving exploitation and sexual abuse of trafficking victims.

“The adoption by Cabinet of the Trafficking in Persons (Amendment) Bill is a welcome development in view of continued reports of trafficking particularly desperate women seeking better prospects outside the country. It is high time Zimbabwe outlaws, without ambiguity, sexual exploitation and abuse to ensure increased protection of women and girls in their diversity,” she said.

According to a recent report titled, “2021 Trafficking in Persons Report” compiled by the US Department of State, “over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Zimbabwe and traffickers exploit victims from Zimbabwe abroad and internal trafficking is prevalent and underreported.”

The report further claimed that some of the leading causes of child sex trafficking and child labour in the country included the Covid-19 pandemic as well as worsening economic conditions.

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