Zim new hub of human trafficking: IOM

BULAWAYO - The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says the government is not doing enough to fight human trafficking in the country.

Addressing a media workshop on human trafficking in Bulawayo yesterday, Tapfumaneyi Kusemwa, the IOM Zimbabwe counter trafficking officer said lack of legislation fighting human trafficking is fuelling the practice.

Zimbabwe will remain southern Africa’s transit point for human traffickers if no such legislation is put into place, he said.

“We are in a bad situation because we do not have legislation to fight or prevent human trafficking,” Kusemwa said.

“The country will remain as a source, transit and destination for human traffickers because of lack of necessary legislation to fight it.”

He said Zimbabwe should copy Zambia that now has tough legislation fighting human trafficking.

“In Zambia one can be sentenced to close to 15 years in jail for practising human trafficking,” he added.

The IOM official said cases of human trafficking in the country are rampant in Harare, Bulawayo and Matabeleland South especially in Plumtree and Beitbridge because of their proximity to South Africa where trafficked individuals are taken for slave jobs and prostitution.

Kusemwa indicated the failure by government to ratify and domesticate the Palermo Protocol to fight the practice is to blame for the increase in human trafficking cases.

Parliament only approved the Palermo Protocol, a United Nations protocol to prevent, suppresses and punish human trafficking in July.

Human trafficking is rife in Zimbabwe with women being lured to as far as China and Canada for prostitution while men are lured into exploitative labour in countries like Malaysia and Nigeria, the trafficking in persons report for 2011 released by the United States, says.

The report says Zimbabwean women and men are lured into exploitative labour situations in Angola, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Nigeria, and South Africa with false offers of employment in agriculture, construction, information technology, and hospitality, and some subsequently become victims of forced labour.

Young women and girls are also lured to China, Egypt, the United Kingdom, and Canada under false pretences, and then subjected to prostitution.

But the traffic is not one way. Some are coming into or through Zimbabwe. Men, women, and children from Bangladesh, Somalia, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia are trafficked through Zimbabwe en route to South Africa.

Women and children from border communities in neighbouring countries are trafficked to Zimbabwe for forced labour and prostitution.

A small number of South African girls are exploited in Zimbabwe in domestic servitude. - Pindai Dube

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