Namibia’s human trafficking efforts yield results

23 July 2021 | Social Issues

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

The number of people trafficked in Namibia has dropped from 30 in 2019 to 19 in 2020.

This is according to the 2021 United States Trafficking in Persons (TIP) annual report.

But although Namibia fully met the minimum standards for eliminating trafficking, the prevalence of trafficking incidence continues to give authorities sleepless nights.

Namibia retained its status as a Tier 1 country in the 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report for the second year in a row for prohibiting severe forms of trafficking in persons and punishing acts of trafficking.

Namibia is again the only country in Africa to achieve a Tier 1 ranking, joining 28 countries globally.

The report said Namibia continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period, considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity and therefore remained on Tier 1.

“Although the government meets the minimum standards, it identified fewer victims and did not initiate any new prosecutions of alleged traffickers.

“Occasional breakdowns in communication between government officials and civil society and within government ministries led to a lack of coordination among members of the National Coordinating Body,” it added.

The report said that despite the pandemic’s impact, the government initiated 10 case investigations and continued 16 case investigations, compared with nine case investigations initiated and 29 case investigations continued during the previous year.

Forced labour

It says that of the 10 new investigations, the government initiated four forced labour investigations and six sex trafficking investigations.

The government continued prosecutions of 18 defendants and convicted one trafficker in 2020.

This is compared with prosecutions of 15 defendants initiated, prosecutions of four defendants continued, and conviction of one trafficker in 2019.

Furthermore, it said that while the government maintained overall protection efforts, it identified fewer trafficking victims.

“The government identified 19 trafficking victims, compared with 30 victims in 2019.”

These included three Namibian children and one Namibian adult exploited in sex trafficking.

Human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Namibia, and traffickers exploit victims from Namibia abroad.

“Traffickers subject Namibian children to forced labour in agriculture, cattle herding, and domestic service, and sex trafficking.”

Among Namibia’s ethnic groups, San and Zemba children are particularly vulnerable to forced labour on farms or in homes; officials identified Zemba child trafficking victims during the reporting period.

Traffickers may subject children from less affluent neighbouring countries to sex trafficking and forced labour, including in street vending in Windhoek and other cities as well as in the fishing sector.

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