Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July 2014, 14:54 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Namibia

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Namibia, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30ca837.html [accessed 24 July 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.

NAMIBIA (Tier 2 Watch List)

Namibia is a country of origin, transit, and destination for women, children, and possibly men subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Victims lured by promises of legitimate work for adequate wages may instead be forced to work long hours and carry out hazardous tasks in urban centers and on commercial farms. Traffickers in Namibia exploit Namibian children, as well as children from Angola, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, through forced labor in agriculture, cattle herding, fishing, and domestic service as well as in prostitution. Tourists from southern Africa and Europe are among the clientele of children in prostitution in Namibia. Children are forced to care for the children of farm or factory workers and are also coerced to engage in criminal activity, including drug smuggling and robberies. Some adults subject the children of their distant relatives to sex trafficking or forced labor. Among Namibia's ethnic groups, San girls are particularly vulnerable to be trafficked for prostitution and forced labor on farms or in domestic service. Allegations arose during the year regarding the labor conditions at Chinese companies' construction sites in Namibia, including long hours and low wages for both Chinese and Namibian staff.

The Government of Namibia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these efforts, including its continued investigation of nine suspected traffickers and the initiation of one potential trafficking investigation in 2011, the government did not demonstrate evidence of overall increasing efforts to address human trafficking over the previous year; therefore, Namibia is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The government failed to prosecute or convict trafficking offenders during the year and has not yet prosecuted or convicted a trafficking offender under any of its laws. During the year, the cabinet approved the Child Care and Protection Bill, which now awaits parliamentary debate and passage. The government also completed its renovation of three additional shelters for victims of gender-based violence, including trafficking. Although the government continued public awareness campaigns, it took no action to prosecute sex trafficking offenders and protect such victims.

Recommendations for Namibia: Greatly increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders under existing legislation, including the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA); train law enforcement officials on the anti-trafficking provisions of the POCA and other relevant legislation; establish a formal process for the identification of victims and their subsequent referral to care among law enforcement, immigration, labor, and social welfare officials; continue to dedicate adequate time and resources to complete ongoing shelter and safe house renovations; strengthen coordination of anti-trafficking efforts across the government; conduct national anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns; and collect data and maintain databases on trafficking cases.

Prosecution

The Government of Namibia made modest anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year, as it failed to prosecute or convict trafficking offenders. In May 2009, the government enacted the POCA of 2004, which explicitly criminalizes all forms of trafficking. Under the POCA, persons who participate in trafficking offenses or aid and abet trafficking offenders may be imprisoned for up to 50 years and fined up to the equivalent of $133,000, penalties which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government, however, has yet to prosecute or convict a trafficking offender under the POCA or other relevant laws. In August 2011, the government, in partnership with UNODC, held an inter-ministerial workshop to plan its development of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that would include specific provisions relating to trafficking crimes committed against children and adults; however, the Ministry of Justice did not begin to draft this legislation during the year. The pending Child Care and Protection Bill, drafted in 2009 – which includes a provision against child trafficking – was approved by the cabinet in March 2012 and referred to parliament for debate and passage.

The government continued to make efforts to address labor trafficking, especially forced child labor. In August and September 2011, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MLSW), in collaboration with the Police, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW), and the Namibian Central Intelligence Agency investigated a potential labor trafficking case involving numerous youth and children; although the prosecutor general recommended a criminal complaint be filed as a violation of forced labor provisions of the 2007 Labor Act, no alleged offenders have been arrested. In the previous reporting period, the MLSW followed-up on 111 cases of child labor discovered in 2009, leading the Namibian Police Force's Woman and Child Protection Unit (WACPU) to open criminal investigations in nine cases where employers failed to obey compliance orders received in 2009. In 2011, WACPU reported its continued investigation of these cases, which were then forwarded for prosecution; although prosecutors reported withdrawing the cases due to a lack of evidence, other officials noted that prosecutors did not know how to use existing laws to prosecute these cases and need training on addressing human trafficking. Despite the acknowledged need for training of police and prosecutors on trafficking and relevant existing laws, and while officials participated in trainings sponsored by UNICEF or foreign governments, the government did not provide such training to its staff or support NGOs that did so during the year; human trafficking is not covered as part of any institutionalized basic trainings. However, during the year, in partnership with UNICEF and NGOs, the government began development of a new police curriculum on gender-based violence, including trafficking. Despite its attention to forced labor cases, the government continued to take no action to prosecute sex trafficking in Namibia during the year.

Protection

Overall, the Namibian government did not demonstrate increasing efforts to protect trafficking victims. Although the government discovered children in one suspected labor trafficking ring, it identified fewer victims than in previous years. Despite the existence of government-operated shelters and services for victims of crime, the government did not report their use by trafficking victims in 2011. The government continued to lack systematic procedures for its officials to use in proactively identifying trafficking victims and referring them to care. Police previously had been trained to contact WACPU if they discover a woman or child victim, and WACPU police are subsequently responsible for referring victims – on an ad hoc basis, as is done for victims of all crimes – to temporary shelter and medical assistance provided by NGOs or other entities. The MGECW provided social workers to assist police in counseling victims of violent crimes, including human trafficking; however, officials noted that social workers and other first responders remain unaware of trafficking indicators. The government continued its renovation of buildings to be used for long-term accommodation for women and child victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking; two facilities continued operation, while three were renovated during the reporting period. The government continued its operation of three "one-stop" facilities for providing care for victims of gender-based violence, including trafficking, in Windhoek, Oshakati, and Rundu, which offered overnight accommodation, medical examinations, and space for social workers to provide counseling and psychosocial support. There are no such facilities for the care of men who are victims of trafficking. The government may grant temporary or permanent residency to foreign victims on a case by case basis; however, with the quick enforcement of immigration law foreign trafficking victims – including children – were most likely deported for immigration violations before identification as trafficking victims.

Prevention

The Namibian government continued its efforts to prevent human trafficking during the reporting period. Under the leadership of the MGECW, the inter-ministerial committee, which coordinated government activities on gender-based violence and trafficking, began drafting the 2012-2016 national action plan, which awaits finalization. Nonetheless, coordination and communication across government entities on anti-trafficking efforts are not yet effective enough to facilitate understanding of and progress on trafficking issues. The government continued its "Zero Tolerance Against Gender-Based Violence and Trafficking in Persons" media campaign including TV and radio broadcasts on human trafficking. In addition, the police and MGECW partnered with several NGOs on an anti-trafficking and prostitution demand reduction campaign. With donor funding, the MGECW launched an awareness campaign on gender-based violence and trafficking, including TV and radio spots and placement of billboards. Unlike in 2010, the MLSW did not make efforts to raise awareness of child labor issues, including child trafficking.

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