Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Zimbabwe

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 5 June 2006
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Zimbabwe, 5 June 2006, available at: [accessed 26 May 2016]
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.

Zimbabwe (Tier 3)

Zimbabwe is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Large, well-organized rings may be involved. Zimbabwean children may be trafficked internally for forced agricultural labor, domestic servitude, and sexual exploitation. Trafficked women and girls are lured out of the country to South Africa, China, Egypt, and Zambia with false job or scholarship promises that result in domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation. There are reports of South African employers demanding sex from undocumented Zimbabwean workers under threat of deportation. Women and children from Malawi, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo transit Zimbabwe en route to South Africa. Small numbers of South African girls are trafficked to Zimbabwe for domestic labor.

The Government of Zimbabwe does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The government showed little political will to address Zimbabwe's trafficking problem during the last year. Although Zimbabwe demonstrated modest progress in the area of law enforcement, the government harassed an anti-trafficking NGO and placed a significant number of its citizens at risk for trafficking as a result of the mid-2005 "Operation Restore Order" urban destruction campaign. To further its anti-trafficking efforts, the government should advance comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that allows for the thorough investigation and prosecution of foreign traffickers, launch a broad public awareness campaign, and take immediate steps to ensure that those made vulnerable to trafficking by "Operation Restore Order" do not become victims of exploitation.


Although Zimbabwe demonstrated modest law enforcement efforts over previous years, the government did not bring traffickers to justice. There is no specific anti-trafficking law; existing statutes prohibit forced labor and various forms of sexual exploitation. In 2005, IOM conducted training for 280 police, which was successfully utilized to identify trafficking cases and refer victims for assistance. During the period, the Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) of the Zimbabwe Republic Police actively investigated at least nine cases of suspected trafficking; 26 persons were positively identified as trafficking victims by the end of the reporting period. Victim Friendly Courts exist and would hear trafficking cases; however, there were no prosecutions in the identified cases. Prosecution of traffickers is constrained by an immigration requirement to deport foreigners within two weeks of arrest, leading to incomplete investigations and fines and deportations of suspected traffickers. There were no reported instances of public officials' complicity in trafficking during the reporting period.


Over the last year, the Zimbabwean Government collaborated with some NGOs to provide victim assistance; however, the government-controlled press verbally attacked one anti-trafficking NGO and police raided the NGO's offices and one of its shelters, harassing already traumatized victims. VFU and IOM officers jointly interviewed and referred victims to multiple NGOs for shelter, health care, counseling, and reintegration services. At least nine of the victims identified by police received these services and foreign victims were offered temporary residency while they received services and their cases were investigated. The Ministry of Public Service, Social Welfare, and Labor worked with an NGO to run a center to assist deported children to return to their homes, including counseling for victims of sexual exploitation. The Ministry assumed operation of three of eight related pilot projects that provide assistance to vulnerable minors. One district council hired a child protection officer, convened a protection committee, and conducted a small survey of the trafficking problem.

These positive steps on protection were, however, undermined when the government placed many of its citizens at increased risk for exploitation with its mid-2005 urban destruction campaign code-named "Operation Restore Order." Tens of thousands of people remain homeless in the wake of the operation, which demolished ostensibly illegal homes and businesses. An estimated 223,000 children were affected and left vulnerable to trafficking.


Human trafficking received increasing attention during the year, though efforts remain modest. For example, during a trip to the border, government ministers concluded that irregular migration was a national crisis after observing the volume of returnees from South Africa, many of whom related stories of being exploited during migration. Government-sponsored media outlets ran IOM's trafficking awareness messages. In addition, the government-sponsored media continued to print or air messages warning the public about prostitution and false employment scams that can lead to trafficking.

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