NAMIBIA (Tier 2)
Namibia is a source, transit, and destination country for children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Namibian children are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude and forced agricultural labor, cattle herding, vending, and commercial sexual exploitation. In some cases, Namibian parents may have unwittingly sold their children into trafficking conditions, including child prostitution. There have been reports of Namibian children being trafficked to South Africa, typically by truck drivers, for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Zambian and Angolan children are trafficked to Namibia for domestic servitude, agricultural labor, and livestock herding. There is evidence that a West African labor trafficking syndicate transports West African adults through Namibia to Angola to work under false pretenses.
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. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare's (MGECW) distribution of anti-trafficking brochures and commissioning, with foreign funding, of a baseline study on human trafficking in Namibia demonstrates the government's increasing awareness of the issue and commitment to addressing it. The government also hosted the ninth annual INTERPOL working group meeting on trafficking in persons in September 2008.
Recommendations for Namibia: Draft and enact anti-trafficking legislation that prohibits and punishes all forms of trafficking; implement already enacted legislation against forced labor to prosecute trafficking offenses and convict labor trafficking offenders; launch a national anti-trafficking public awareness campaign, particularly in the border areas; provide further training to law enforcement and social services officials on the identification and provision of assistance to trafficking victims; and begin maintaining statistics on specific human trafficking offenses.
The Government of Namibia's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts were moderate during the reporting period. The Prevention of Organized Crime Act of 2004 has a provision that criminalizes trafficking in persons and prescribes up to 50 years' imprisonment or fines of up to $140,000 for those convicted. This act was implemented in May 2009. Section 4 of Namibia's Labor Act of 2007, which was signed into law in 2007 and came into force in November 2008, prohibits forced labor and prescribes penalties of up to four years' imprisonment or a fine of up to $2,000, or both. Section 3 of the Labor Act prohibits various forms of exploitative child labor, prescribing penalties equal to those for forced labor offenses. Existing laws prohibiting child prostitution, pimping, and kidnapping could also be used to prosecute trafficking cases. Prescribed penalties for the above crimes are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes. The government did not prosecute any cases of human trafficking during the reporting period. In mid-2008, before the November 2008 implementation of the Labor Act which prescribes criminal penalties for forced and child labor, the Ministry of Labor issued three administrative compliance orders to potential child trafficking offenders under the 2004 Labour Act. Though an August 2008 case involving Angolan children forced to herd cattle was slated to be reopened in 2009 under the Act's new criminal penalties, the Ministry of Labor discovered in March 2009 that the suspect, a farmer, had disappeared. Police initiated various investigations during the year into suspected cases of pimping and brothel-keeping, but the lack of appropriate anti-trafficking legislation prevented the prosecution of alleged perpetrators.
Though the Women and Child Protection Unit of the police and the MGECW's gender liaison officers attended a half-day workshop on trafficking during the reporting period, government officials did not identify any trafficking cases. The government lacked the financial resources and capacity to provide direct care to victims. NGOs and other civil society entities provided short-term shelter facilities to which government authorities referred victims of crime for assistance; however, shelters are often full and cannot accommodate all victims of abuse referred. Neither long-term shelter facilities nor services specifically tailored to the needs of trafficking victims exist in Namibia. MGECW social workers are assigned to the Namibian Police's 15 Women and Child Protection Units; these units implemented a formal referral agreement with a local NGO that offers counseling to victims of trauma, but there is no record they have ever referred a trafficking victim to this organization. The Namibian legal system provided protection to victims who wish to testify against their abusers, as well as a legal alternative to foreign victims' removal to countries where they faced hardship or retribution in the form of a comprehensive asylum policy.
Understanding of what constitutes human trafficking remained limited in Namibia, though the government made efforts during the year to raise awareness throughout the country. There were, however, no discernible efforts made to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period. In 2008, the MGECW designed, printed, and distributed 13,000 brochures explaining human trafficking to local populations in the country's 13 regions through its gender liaison officers, community liaison officers, social workers, and officials from each Regional Council. In addition, the Ministry of Labor conducted a national public awareness campaign to introduce the new labor legislation that included radio and television programs, visits by Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare officials to all regions, and the production and distribution of 300,000 copies of a 12-page pamphlet explaining the act's provisions, including those prohibiting exploitative child labor.