Swaziland (eSwatini) has a long way to go before it eliminates human trafficking, but it is making progress, according to a new global report.
The United States Department of State stated in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report that as with the past five years, human traffickers continue to exploit domestic and foreign victims in Swaziland, and traffickers exploit victims from Swaziland abroad. Trafficking victims come primarily from poor communities with high HIV/AIDS prevalence rates.
Traffickers exploit Swazi girls, particularly orphans, in sex trafficking and domestic servitude, primarily in Swaziland and South Africa. Traffickers force Swazi boys and foreign children to labour in agriculture, including cattle herding, and market vending within the country.
Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland for work washing cars, herding livestock, and portering; traffickers exploit some in forced labour. Traffickers use Swaziland as a transit country to transport foreign victims to South Africa for forced labour. Traffickers reportedly force Mozambican women into commercial sex in Swaziland, or transport them through Swaziland to South Africa.
Some traffickers force Swazis into commercial sex in South Africa after voluntarily migrating in search of work. Reports suggest labour brokers fraudulently recruit and charge excessive fees to Swazi nationals for work in South African mines, means often used to facilitate trafficking crimes. Swazi men in border communities are recruited for forced labour in South Africa’s timber industry.
The report stated there had been some progress. In the past year a trafficker in Swaziland was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for forced labour and the Swazi Government trained front-line responders on how to identify trafficked people. It also launched a five-year national action plan.
‘However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not have shelter policies or guidelines to ensure quality of care for trafficking victims, and the primary shelter available was inadequate. While the government did take action against a government protection officer who assaulted and traumatized three foreign victims while they were in a government shelter, overall lack of protection efforts and oversight created the environment in which the assault took place,’ the report stated.
The report added, ‘While there were general reports of government corruption, including immigration officials seeking bribes to issue government documents such as visas, there were few reports of direct official complicity in trafficking. The government investigated a senior official for sex trafficking.’
The report listed a number of recommendations for improvement. These included increasing efforts to identify, investigate, and prosecute more trafficking crimes, including internal trafficking cases; implement the national anti-trafficking action plan; address leadership issues at the anti-trafficking secretariat and enable the taskforce to fulfil its statutory responsibilities; ensure all victims of trafficking are provided appropriate and comprehensive care.
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