What is human trafficking?
It is a terrible crime involving the trade of human beings. Human Trafficking is usually referred to as modern day slavery because effectively, it is slavery. Human beings are moved from one place to another whether within the same country, from one country to another; and even from one continent to another. Upon their arrival at their final destination the individuals transported will be exploited for different purposes.
Human trafficking has three main components:
•The recruitment of the victim
•The transportation of the victim
•The harbouring and exploitation of the victim
Who is a trafficker?
Traffickers are usually terrible criminals who make lots of money through the exploitation of human beings. Any person who is responsible for the following acts is considered to be a trafficker:
•Recruiting victims through deceit, abduction, coercion of the victim
•Transporting victims from their original place to the destination where they will be exploited
•Transferring victims from one place of exploitation to another
•Harbouring victims in a place where they are exploited or are awaiting exploitation
•Receiving victims in the place where they shall be exploited
Traffickers are very cunning and cruel people. They may study your life patterns before they decide to take you. They may come to you and force you to go with them telling you that if you refuse, they will kill people close to you. They may threaten your family directly if you refuse to cooperate. This has happened to many women, children and men in other parts of the world and could happen to you too here in Zimbabwe.
How do people get trafficked?
Some people are deceived by the trafficker or fraudulently taken by the traffickers. (Please note that all stories used in this article are adaptations of global case studies).
Rudo, a young woman aged 20, lived with her aunt in Budiriro suburb of Harare. Both her parents had died when she was 11. Rudo did a course in hotel and catering at Harare Polytechnic. She had been looking for a job but could not find one. One day, on Facebook, she became friends with Pedro who said he was from Russia. He told her that there were many places in Russia that needed pretty waitresses like her and so she should send her CV and he would help her find a job.
Three days later, Pedro wrote Rudo to tell her he had a job for her. Pedro told Rudo she would be paid 8 000 Euro a month. Rudo was over the moon. God had heard her prayers so soon, she thought. She told her aunt who was a bit worried about Rudo moving to such a far away place; but happy for her niece. Pedro told Rudo the people employing her would pay for her visa, air ticket and accommodation so she need not worry about anything.
Rudo got everything sorted in record time; her passport, visa and air ticket. Her aunt took her to the airport to bid her farewell. That was 10 years ago and that was the last time Rudo’s aunt ever saw or spoke to her niece…
Rudo was a victim of trafficking.
When Rudo arrived in Russia, she discovered that Pedro had lied to her. There was no job waiting for her. Instead, she was told she was now a prostitute. She would sleep with 12 men every day. She got no money from the man who owned her, who was Pedro’s boss. She was told that if she tried escaping, they would send someone to kill her aunt. Besides, Rudo was now a drug addict because Pedro always injected her with heroine before he brought a new ‘client’ to have sex with her. One of Rudo’s classmates saw her in a pornographic video but could not tell her aunt. Rudo was being used by Pedro’s boss to produce pornographic videos.
This can happen to you too.
What must you do?
•Be wary of befriending strange people on Facebook and other social media networks
•Be careful who you trust!
•Do a proper background check before accepting invitations for a visit or job offers from complete strangers
… Others are taken by force.
In 2009, Tsitsi went to visit her aunt in Thailand. She was working for the United Nations in Bangkok. Tsitsi had gone with her mother. She was only 9 years old. As they were shopping in a big Thai market, Tsitsi’s mother went into the shop to try on a dress. From nowhere, two big burly men approached Tsitsi, dragged her away and into their car and sped off. Some people who saw this happening tried to shout out but it was too late.
When Tsitsi’s mother heard the shouts she came out to see what was happening only to hear that her child had been taken. In shock, she collapsed and has not healed from her stroke up to date. Tsitsi had been snatched by traffickers. They abducted her and sold her to a man who owned a brothel. She was forced to have sex with any men who wished to sleep with her. There were many other young girls like her and when some got ill, they were killed because giving them medical care was considered an unnecessary expense.
This can also happen to you.
What must you do?
•Be careful and wary of your surroundings especially when you are in unfamiliar places.
… Some people are coerced.
Farai lived with his mother and two sisters. His father had died when he was very young. Farai was 30 years old, a strong young man who liked his job at a local gymnasium. One day, he received a phone call from a strange number telling him he should be at Copa Cabana at 1 pm and that he should not tell anyone.
He was told not to report to the police or else his family would also get killed. Scared and devastated, Farai did as he was told. When he got there, a strange man in a black car called to him to come into his car. When Farai got inside the car he discovered his boss, the owner of the gym in the car. His boss told him that they needed a strong person to go and work as the Manager at his new diamond mine in Chiadzwa.
Farai asked his boss why he had not just told him that this is what he wanted than go through the process of scaring him but the boss lied that he did not want people to know he owned the mine. They immediately left for Chiadzwa. When Farai arrived at the mine he discovered that his job was to be a manager, NOT OF THE MINE but the big boulders of rocks that needed to be moved underground in the mine.
He could not escape because there was maximum security on the premises. He had no phone to call anyone as his cell phone had been taken away from him and he had no money to even try and pay someone else to make the call. Back home, his colleagues and his family filed missing person’s reports but still no one knew where Farai had disappeared to.
It can happen to you.
So what must you do?
•Be alert and careful around the people you think you know, they are not what they seem always.
Many who are trafficked are led into drug use and addiction. Photograph from http://www.theage.com.au/)
What the law says on Human Trafficking
There are three tiers, or levels, of legal interventions available at the international, regional and national levels; although ultimately, the three levels must work together to give the best protection to victims of trafficking.
Zimbabwe does not have an Anti-Trafficking Act. The following crimes form part of the trade of trafficking and in countries like Zimbabwe, where specific anti-trafficking legislation does not exist, the trafficker could still be prosecuted on these grounds:
•Immigration related crimes – these include smuggling of victims (These are covered under the Aircraft (Offences) Act [Chapter 9:01], the Road Traffic Act [Chapter 13:11] and the Civil Aviation Act [Chapter 13:16]
•Document forgery which gives victims right of passage through immigration controls (Forgery is a crime in terms of Section 137 of the Criminal Law Code as well as the National Registration Act [Chapter 10:17])
•Extortion of financial resources from victims as they are sometimes asked for money to facilitate their travel to the place where they are promised fake jobs (Criminalised in Section 134 of the Criminal Law Code)
•Kidnapping/ abduction in securing the victims and withholding of documents to prevent victims from escaping and going back to their places of origin (Addressed under Section 93 of the Criminal Law Code)
•Fraud committed in securing the victims (A crime in terms of section 136 of the Criminal Law Code)
•Corruption/bribery-in getting help from immigration officials or security personnel at transit points (These are crimes in terms of Sections 169-174 of the Criminal Law Code)
•Violence or assault in forcing the victims to stay and continue to be abused (Covered under Section 89 of the Criminal Law Code)
•Indecent assault, rape, gang rape or sodomy of victims of trafficking who are forced into prostitution, pornography or other forms of sex work (these are crimes in terms of Sections 65 to 76 of the Criminal Law Code)
•Torture - whereby victims are forced to undergo terrible conditions to force them to do as the traffickers wish (which is currently not a crime in Zimbabwe)
•Drug trafficking and abuse which is usually done to keep the victims subdued (Covered under sections 157 and 159 of the Criminal Law Code. The drugs are also described and prohibited under the Dangerous Drugs Act [Chapter 15:03]) Such drugs may be searched for and seized in terms of the Road Traffic Act [Chapter 13:11] or the Civil Aviation Act [Chapter 13:16]
•Tax evasion and money laundering – traffickers also do not pay tax because if they do, they will have to account for the kind of business from which they generate their income. (Covered in Section 63 on money-laundering of the Serious Offences (Confiscation of Profits) Act [Chapter 9:17].)
•Murder (in terms of Section 59 of the Criminal Law Code)
•Pledging of female persons and forced marriage (Covered under Section 92 of the Criminal Law Code)
•Prostitution (Covered under Section 82 -87 of the Criminal Law Code). This includes procuring persons for purposes of prostitution, prostituting children and detaining persons to force them to engage in prostitution.
Although all these provisions sound very comprehensive, they are all not specific to the crime of trafficking, making the gathering of proof required to prove the different crimes much more difficult. Also, this ad hoc approach forces prosecutors and investigators to use many legal instruments to come up with charges. This complicates the investigation of crimes related to trafficking and may cause the trafficker to walk away with a lighter sentence than they would have had they been convicted of the actual crime of trafficking.
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
•The Charter in Article 15 protects children from all forms of exploitation for economic reasons including child labour
•Article 16 protects children from sexual abuse
•Article 22 protects children from being used as child-soldiers in armed conflicts
•Articles 27, 28 and 29 protect children from sexual exploitation, drug abuse and sale, trafficking and abduction respectively
The AU COMMIT – Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings especially Women and Children
•It is aimed at assisting member states with the development and implementation of sound migration policies aimed at addressing trafficking in human beings, especially women and children
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa
•Article 5 (g) prevents and condemns trafficking in women, prosecutes the perpetrators of such trafficking and protects those women most at risk
•Article 6 (b) prohibits child marriages
•Article 11 calls for the protection of women in armed conflict from all forms of abuse including sexual exploitation
•Article 13 protects women from being abused for purposes of pornography or other forms of exploitation by their employers
At the international level, there are three main instruments that protect women, children and men from trafficking. But for these instruments to take effect at the national level, states need to sign, ratify and domesticate these instruments.
•To sign means to put the signature of the president of the country, or the foreign minister on behalf of the President, on the document indicating that they agree with the contents of the instrument and would want to be bound by it in the future.
•To ratify is to make a binding declaration to be bound by the provisions of the instrument.
•To domesticate is to ensure that the provisions of the international instrument can be enforced at the national level. So citizens can bring cases before the national courts citing these provisions and the state can be held accountable by national institutions and citizens if it acts contrary to these provisions.
Below are the international instruments governing human trafficking:
The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime
•It prohibits, seeks to prevent and apprehend perpetrators of international crimes including human trafficking, drug trafficking and arms trafficking. These crimes occur across borders hence a coordinated effort to foster international cooperation among states is necessary.
•Zimbabwe signed this Convention on 12 December 2000 and ratified it on 12 December 2007 but has not fully domesticated its provisions.
The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (The Palermo Protocol)
It emphasises that states should
•Prevent and combat trafficking especially against women and children
•Protect and assist victims of trafficking
•Promote international cooperation to prevent trafficking and catch traffickers
•Provide physical, psychological and social recovery for victims e.g. housing, counselling, employment, education and training opportunities
•Provide physical safety for the victims
•Strengthen border controls
•Zimbabwe HAS NOT ratified this Convention
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC)
•Protects children from exploitative business such as prostitution and pornography especially that facilitated by the trafficking of children.
•Zimbabwe ratified this treaty on 14 February 2012
The Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea
•It is a useful tool in providing protection and detecting the smuggling of victims of trafficking
•Zimbabwe signed this treaty on the 12th of December 2000 but has not ratified it.
The Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
•It protects women against discrimination.
•Article 6 of CEDAW specifically prohibits the trafficking of women for purposes of sexual exploitation and prostitution
•Zimbabwe ratified this instrument on 13 May 1991
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
•It guarantees the basic human rights of children – civil, political, social and economic rights and it also prohibits discrimination against children. Hence trafficking, by virtue of its nature and consequences, goes against this convention.
•Zimbabwe ratified this instrument on 11 September 1990
The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN GIFT)
•This is an initiative by the United Nations to raise awareness on the problem of trafficking as well as design protection mechanisms for victims of trafficking
In our next edition, we will be discussing how victims of trafficking are transported, what is usually done to them; and why they often can’t escape out of the cycle.