Last Updated: Thursday, 27 November 2014, 13:39 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Special Cases - Namibia

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 4 June 2008
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Special Cases - Namibia, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a4ec.html [accessed 28 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The existence of a significant human trafficking problem in Namibia is suspected, but remains unsubstantiated by sufficient reliable reporting. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare's commissioning of a study on child labor demonstrates the government's increasing awareness of and interest in the issue which, until recently, was not believed to be a problem in the country. To improve the effectiveness of its fight against human trafficking, the Government of Namibia should consider two initial steps: develop a baseline understanding of the problem, which could include reviewing existing reports and engaging stakeholders; and designate a focal point within the government to coordinate dialogue and action by relevant government entities. As further information is developed, public awareness raising and training of relevant law enforcement and social services officials could facilitate the identification and assistance of victims, and help determine the extent of the problem.

Scope and Magnitude. Limited reporting suggests that Namibia may be a source and destination country for trafficked children; however, the magnitude of this problem is unknown. It is suspected that the largest percentage of trafficking victims are children engaged in prostitution. There is evidence that small numbers of Namibian children are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude, as well as forced agricultural labor, cattle herding, and possibly vending. There have been a few reported cases of Zambian and Angolan children trafficked to Namibia for domestic servitude, agricultural labor, and livestock herding. Namibia's high HIV/ AIDS prevalence rate has increased the number of orphans and other vulnerable children at risk of exploitation and trafficking.

Government Efforts. The Prevention of Organized Crime Act of 2004 specifically criminalizes trafficking in persons and prescribes up to 50 years' imprisonment or fines of up to $140,000 for those convicted. This act, however, cannot be implemented until the government completes its ongoing process of drafting and announcing implementing regulations. Namibia's Labor Act of 2007 prohibits forced labor and provides for imprisonment of up to four years. Existing laws also prohibit child labor, child prostitution, pimping, and kidnapping, which could be used to prosecute trafficking cases. The government, however, has never prosecuted a case of human trafficking. The Police's Serious Crime Unit is tasked with monitoring and investigating possible instances of human trafficking, but did not investigate any such cases during the reporting period. In 2007, 19 Filipino workers at a local garment factory filed a complaint in the labor courts alleging their employer confiscated their passports, confined them to the premises, and forced them to accept sub-par working conditions. The labor inspectorate began investigating the allegations and a labor court ordered that the workers not be deported before finalization of the complaint. Through the Women and Child Protection Unit within the police, the government provided specialized training in providing services to victims of sexual abuse for 102 police officers and 25 Ministry of Health social workers during the reporting period.

NGOs and other civil society entities provided shelter facilities to which government authorities referred victims of crime. The Namibian Police's Women and Child Protection Unit also implemented a referral agreement with a local NGO that offered counseling to victims of trauma. The government has a policy framework to assist internally trafficked persons, but the system has never been practically tested. The Namibian legal system provides protection to victims who wish to testify against their abusers and a comprehensive asylum policy under which trafficking victims could seek relief from deportation to countries where they faced retribution or hardship.

No government agency leads Namibia's efforts to combat trafficking, though the Ministry of Labor is engaged in programming to combat the worst forms of child labor. The ministry partners with the Namibia Agricultural Union and the Namibia Farm Workers' Union to conduct awareness campaigns against child labor. Labor inspectors are trained to identify the worst forms of child labor and process cases. In January 2008, the government hosted a national conference on child labor, a significant portion of which focused on the issue of child trafficking in the country. A national child labor action plan was ratified at this conference. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and the Ministry of Health and Social Services operate welfare programs for orphans and vulnerable children by providing grants and scholarships to keep them in school and referrals to foster homes.

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