'Zim law doesn't criminalise trafficking'

ZIMBABWE’s laws do not criminalise the act of trafficking but only related elements such as abduction and assault, International Labour Organisation senior programmes officer Adolphus Chinomwe said.

While presenting oral evidence to the thematic committee on human rights recently, Chinomwe said the laws do not specify on human trafficking but issues that may lead to it.

This comes as a 2016 Human Trafficking in Persons report states that Zimbabwe is among the tier three countries which do not demonstrate a significant effort to satisfy the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

“Zimbabwe has a challenge of laws that do not criminalise the act itself of trafficking. There is a gap in the anti-trafficking law because while it is there, it needs to be strengthened. Memorandas of Understanding and Bilateral Relations between countries that Zimbabwe has are just ceremonial at this stage,” he said.

He added that generally Zimbabwe can be described as a transit and source country for international migrants who may end up in forced labour.

Chinomwe said the issue that is of concern is that of labour broking or recruitment agencies which are used to lure people into forced labour.

The ILO programmes officer said these recruitment agencies are mostly unregistered and a huge problem in southern Africa as they are daring enough to advertise their services in newspapers and on social media platforms.

He said once a person is trafficked through a recruitment agency they remain their property and can be sold off to anyone if their employer no longer requires their services.

Even if a trafficked employee has problems at work, their immediate supervisor cannot deal with the issue because the contract lies with the recruitment agency, he added.

“In 2014 the ILO tried to estimate the value of forced labour globally which involves elements of human trafficking and a conservative $150 billion was generated from human trafficking. There is big money to be made in trafficking people and these agencies invest in sophisticated resources such as websites in order to hire people. When people see these websites particularly those who aspire to work on cruise ships, you are lured by the prospects of foreign travels and making thousands of money which may be invested in a house after the contract has expired.”

“Government should formulate checks and balances of how people are recruited, where they will be taken and what work they will be doing in those foreign countries. Ideally recruitment agencies should be registered. It is difficult, however, to regulate this because if it happen in the streets it is all private,” Chinomwe said. —Helen Kadirire




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