NC chair calls for end to human trafficking

19 December 2017 | Government

The Namibian police, immigration officials and the judiciary are not trained to deal with human trafficking and as a result the scourge remains unreported and continues unabated.

These were the sentiments of the chairperson of the National Council, Margaret Mensah-Williams, when she briefed members during the opening of an urgent NC session yesterday to review the Urban and Regional Planning Bill of 2017, as well as the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill of 2017 and the Education Amendment Bill of 2017.

Mensah-Williams put specific emphasis on the proposed penalties for human trafficking and urged parliamentarians to be mindful of the importance of the bill that must urgently be passed to protect the people of the country and those innocent people who end up here through trafficking.

According to her, victims of modern slavery are unable to leave their situation of exploitation because they are controlled by threats of punishment, violence, coercion and deception.

She said the parliament had an important role to play in ending this shameful practice through passing laws such as the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill of 2017.

“The bill has some flaws but we have the responsibility to ensure we amend the bill. I believe that the proposed sentences in the current bill are too lenient. I also think that that there should not be an option of a fine upon the conviction of a human trafficker. When you steal one goat you go to prison. Why should traffickers who torture and brutalise people be penalised or fined?” she asked.

According to her, the bill will serve as a tool to effectively prosecute criminals who profit from exploiting others.

“Furthermore, when this bill comes into force, it will serve as a deterrent to perpetrators and make citizens more alert to the problem,” said Mensah-Williams.

She further stated that Namibia had an obligation to address the evil of human trafficking under the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime.

“We need to end this despicable industry and protect especially the most vulnerable in society. I urge all members to create awareness of the dangers of human trafficking in their constituencies. Furthermore, the National Council will, early next year, embark upon creating public awareness on the issue through its programmes,” she said.

The session was then adjourned to today.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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