Namibia lags behind on human trafficking data

07 February 2019 | Crime

ELLANIE SMIT



A new global study on human trafficking has expressed concern that women and children are being trafficked within Namibia, for forced labour and sexual exploitation, which includes forced prostitution.

But the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2018, recently released by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, says actual data on the extent of human trafficking and smuggling in Namibia is difficult to obtain.

The global study indicates that globally the number of reported trafficking victims has increased.

“This might mean that more people are being trafficked, but also that national capacities to detect this crime and identify victims are improving in some countries. Increases in trafficking convictions have also been recorded in Asia, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East,” says the report.

According to the report most of the detected trafficking victims in sub-Saharan Africa continue to be children.

More than 50% of the victims detected in 2016 were children, in near-equal shares of boys and girls.

An analysis of the data by geographical area shows that child trafficking is far more commonly detected in West Africa than in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

Also, East African countries detect larger shares of adults, nearly equally split between men and women. On the other hand, countries in Southern Africa tend to detect more women, as well as men and boys in similar numbers.

“Girls are rarely detected in East and Southern Africa, whereas in West Africa, they are the most frequently detected victim profile. Countries in West Africa tend to detect far more victims than other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.”

According to the report most of the victims detected in sub-Saharan Africa in 2016 were trafficked for forced labour (63%), while trafficking for sexual exploitation accounted for less than one third of the detected victims.

The second largest group of victims, predominantly women, were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

The report notes that most traffickers are male, but compared to other regions, larger shares of female offenders continue to be reported in sub-Saharan Africa.

Data on the citizenships of the persons convicted of trafficking show that most are citizens of the country where they were convicted.

For the more than 180 people who were convicted in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa in 2016, 84% were citizens of these countries, while 16% were foreigners. The foreign traffickers were mainly citizens of other countries in the sub-region.

According to the report victims from sub-Saharan Africa were detected in, or repatriated from, more than 60 countries within and outside of Africa.

“This makes sub-Saharan Africa a relevant origin for detected cases of trafficking in persons globally.”

The report says the current legislation on human trafficking in Namibia covers all forms of trafficking indicated in the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol.

“According to the International Organisation for Migration in 2015, actual data on the extent of human trafficking and smuggling in Namibia is difficult to obtain.

“However, the health ministry identified 17 cases of reported human trafficking offences. Of these, seven were recorded in the Omaheke Region, eight in the Kunene Region and two in the Khomas Region.”

The report says the Human Rights Committee expressed concern in 2016 that women and children were trafficked within Namibia for the purpose of forced labour and sexual exploitation, including forced prostitution.

Namibia was last year again placed on an international list as one of the nations that are failing to effectively combat human trafficking.