Namibia remains tough on human trafficking
03 August 2020 | Crime
Namibia has joined the global community calling on countries to remain vigilant and pro-active as the world health crisis ravages economies and exposes increasing numbers of vulnerable people to the threat of human traffickers.
“Traffickers feed on the desperation of their victims and use different kinds of trickeries to mislead people,” Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah warned on the commemoration of the World Day Against Trafficking last week.
She said that the Covid-19 pandemic has raised “many social challenges, including that of people losing their jobs. This may cause vulnerable and desperate members of society to become prey.”
The Prime Minister underlined that global slavery is a brutal criminal enterprise, and traffickers are not hesitating to cash in on the chaos, including increasing poverty and hunger, unleashed by the pandemic.
“Traffickers out there are selling people into slavery in exchange for money. Traffickers do not care and they don’t feel any guilt or remorse,” she warned.
She said Namibia should “double our efforts to reach out to people and to raise awareness of what human trafficking is”.
Multiple studies from around the world are predicting millions of job losses, and share dire conclusions on the impact this will have on communities, especially already vulnerable communities in the informal sectors of the continent.
A June 2020 report by the African Union notes that in many African countries, up to 90% of the labour force is in informal employment (AUC/ OECD, 2018). The report states that “nearly 20 million jobs, both in the formal and informal sectors, are threatened with destruction on the continent if the situation continues”.
Namibia’s determination to scale up anti-trafficking measures over the past five years earned it a top ranking in the recently published annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.
Namibia is the only country in Africa to achieve a Tier 1 ranking this year, joining 34 nations globally, in a nod to the enactment of the anti-trafficking law last year and widespread training of frontline responders, as well as increased awareness campaigns and criminal prosecutions.
US ambassador to Namibia Lisa Johnson on Thursday said the achievement shows “firm commitment to combating human trafficking and years of hard work by so many people”.
She underlined that over the years Namibia has become a “strong partner and a global leader in combatting this terrible crime”.
Johnson, however, underlined that all countries, including Tier 1 countries such as the United States, still have room for improvement to tackle the scourge of human slavery within their borders.
There are an estimated 25 million victims of human trafficking globally, Johnson said, and “no country is untouched by its reach.”
The United States ambassador added that that human traffickers are capitalising on the chaos of the global health crisis.
“In the time of Covid-19, instability, lack of access to critical services and economic suffering mean that the number of people vulnerable to exploitation is rapidly growing.”
Johnson said now “more than ever, we must secure access to services to victims and full support for first responders”.
“While all the Southern Africa region is affected by this crime, the number of reported and detected cases is slowly but surely picking up in Namibia,” Namibian police major general Oscar Peter Embubulu said at the commemoration last week.
He said although the numbers are not “yet alarming, there is a growing concern”.
The Namibian police are currently investigating 48 cases of human trafficking, compared to 35 cases that were reported overall in 2019, Embubulu added.
On a positive note, he said a trend of trafficking of children between Angola and Namibia for forced labour as cattle herders or domestic workers, has declined following a joint anti-trafficking operation between Angolan and Namibian authorities.
He added that the Covid-19 pandemic, on a positive note, has also contributed to the ongoing decline in the movement of people between the borders.
Among the challenges still faced in Namibia, the police official said are lack of sufficient and proper facilities to house victims of human trafficking and their families, lack of resources to carry out educational programmes, as well as lack of resources to train personnel.
Moreover, in cross-border investigations, the police often face delays in obtaining evidence on time.