Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2018, 15:54 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Mozambique

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 16 June 2009
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Mozambique, 16 June 2009, available at: [accessed 23 June 2018]
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.


Mozambique is a source and, to a much lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. The use of forced and bonded child laborers is a common practice in Mozambique's rural areas, often with the complicity of family members. Women and girls, often with promises of employment or education, are trafficked from rural to urban areas of Mozambique, as well as to South Africa, for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation; young men and boys are trafficked to South Africa for farm work and mining. Trafficked Mozambicans often labor for months in South Africa without pay and under coercive conditions before their exploiters have them arrested and deported as illegal migrants. Traffickers are typically part of small networks of Mozambican and/or South African citizens; however, the involvement of larger Chinese and Nigerian syndicates has been reported. Small numbers of Mozambican children and adults are reportedly trafficked to Zambia for agricultural labor, while adults are trafficked to Portugal for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Zimbabwean and Malawian women and girls are trafficked to Mozambique for sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. A recent NGO report found that human trafficking of Mozambican children and adults for the forcible removal of body parts is significant; so-called witchdoctors in Mozambique and South Africa seek various body parts of live victims for traditional medical concoctions commonly purchased to heal illness, foster economic advancement, or hurt enemies.

The Government of Mozambique does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Mozambique demonstrated an increased commitment to combating trafficking in 2008, particularly through the enactment of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, the creation of an anti-trafficking police unit, and the conviction and sentencing of two child traffickers.

Recommendations for Mozambique: Utilize new anti-trafficking legislation to prosecute and convict suspected trafficking offenders; launch a nationwide public awareness campaign; build the capacity of the new police anti-trafficking unit and victim support units to investigate cases and provide short-term protection to victims; and investigate and prosecute public officials suspected of accepting bribes to overlook trafficking crimes or free traffickers.


The government demonstrated progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. In April 2008, the National Assembly passed the final version of a comprehensive human trafficking law. In June, the president signed the bill into law; it went into force in September after being gazetted. The law provides for penalties of 16 to 20 years' imprisonment for those recruiting or facilitating the exploitation of a person for purposes of prostitution, forced labor, slavery, or involuntary debt servitude; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and exceed those for other grave crimes. The government budgeted $360,000 to support the enforcement of this new law, though this funding has not yet been allocated to any government entity. Following passage of the law, the Mozambican Police created a six-person anti-trafficking unit to apprehend trafficking offenders, investigate cases, and reintegrate victims. This unit began developing procedures for interviewing potential victims and transferring them to the care of other organizations. In 2008, the Ministry of Justice launched a juvenile court system in Maputo specifically designed to handle trafficking cases, as well as other sensitive cases involving children; this new court has yet to hear a child trafficking case. In July 2008, under child abuse laws, a Maputo court sentenced two Turkish citizens to a year in prison and fined each $3,100 for physically and sexually abusing 17 children whom they brought to the capital under pretense of providing an Islamic education, but actually used for domestic servitude at their private residence. In mid-2008, the Ministry of Interior worked closely with South African authorities to develop evidence needed for the trial of a Mozambican sex trafficker in Pretoria. During the reporting period, police also reported breaking up several trafficking schemes, arresting several drivers and facilitators, but not the organizers behind the operations.

Many low-ranking police and border control agents reportedly accept bribes from traffickers, severely hindering Mozambique's prosecution efforts. In response, the government institutionalized training on human trafficking as a standard part of the mandatory training program for new border guard and police cadets. In addition, the Ministry of Interior's Office for Assistance to Women and Vulnerable Children began implementing a plan to augment trafficking awareness training for police officers; it also increased the availability of victim support services in each of the country's police stations.


The government's efforts to protect victims of trafficking continued to suffer from limited resources and a lack of political commitment; government officials regularly relied on NGOs to provide shelter, food, counseling, and rehabilitation. Moreover, the government continues to lack formalized procedures for identifying potential victims and transferring them to NGOs with the capacity to provide care. The Office of Assistance to Women and Vulnerable Children, however, continued collaboration with a network of anti-trafficking NGOs to respond quickly to tips on potential trafficking cases and provide care and protection to victims. Each of the 204 police stations has designated staff to respond to cases of women and children victimized by violence; these victim support centers registered complaints and filed reports of trafficking crimes before transferring victims to the care of NGOs. The Mozambican police force reportedly rescued more than 200 Mozambican children being trafficked to South Africa in the first half of 2008. The government also provided shelter and medical care for two Mozambican girls rescued from sex trafficking in South Africa in March 2008; the trial of their Mozambican trafficker is ongoing in Pretoria. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers, and did not penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. The government neither systematically seeks to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups nor provides legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they would face hardship or retribution.


The government's prevention efforts remained weak during the reporting period; it has yet to launch a nationwide campaign to foster public awareness of human trafficking among government officials and private citizens. As a result, most Mozambicans, including many law enforcement officials, reportedly still do not have a clear understanding of what constitutes trafficking. In the year following the March 2008 arrest of a Mozambican sex trafficker in South Africa, the government-owned and private press ran frequent articles on updates to the case, the need for passage of the anti-trafficking law, and suspected cases of trafficked Mozambican children, including children abducted from school playgrounds in Maputo and Matola. At year's end, police and Ministry of Justice officials began regularly meeting with NGOs to develop a viable anti-trafficking strategy for the 2010 World Cup, which is expected to increase the incidence of Mozambicans trafficked to South Africa for sexual exploitation. Radio Mozambique and Television Mozambique continued to produce and air, with the assistance of international organizations, child-to-child programs focused on children's themes, including child trafficking. Radio Mozambique aired an IOM-produced radio drama on human trafficking. The government, however, did not take any significant measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts during the year.

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