NAMIBIA: TIER 2
The Government of Namibia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, therefore Namibia remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by signing the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill; prosecuting more traffickers; identifying more trafficking victims the majority of whom were victims of forced labor; and referring some victims to care in a partially government-funded NGO shelter. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not convict any traffickers for the second consecutive year; did not refer all identified victims to care; and continued to lack formal procedures for victim identification and referral.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NAMIBIA
Adopt and implement the draft national mechanism to identify victims and refer them to care; increase funding and efforts to provide care to trafficking victims; increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers; gazette and implement the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill; finalize and implement a new national action plan to guide anti-trafficking efforts; train officials on relevant legislation; strengthen coordination among government ministries at both the ministerial and working level; and increase efforts to raise public awareness, especially in rural areas.
The government increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2009 Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA) criminalized labor and sex trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to 50 years imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 1 million Namibian dollars ($81,200). These penalties were not sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In March 2018, the president signed the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act which explicitly criminalizes human trafficking and provides protection measures for victims of trafficking; however, it was not included in the official gazette, which is a requirement for the law to be fully operational.
During the reporting period, the government investigated seven trafficking cases involving 10 suspects, compared to eight cases in 2016; of these, two involved alleged sex trafficking and five alleged forced labor. The government initiated prosecution in four cases involving five defendants, an increase from two cases prosecuted during the previous year. All defendants were charged under the POCA of 2004 and two of five defendants were also charged with knowingly soliciting a victim of sex trafficking under the Combatting of Immoral Practices Act of 1980. One of the two defendants solicited sex from a trafficking victim in 2015 and absconded to South Africa shortly after being charged; the government proactively requested and then secured his extradition to Namibia in December 2017. The government did not convict any traffickers for the second consecutive year; one defendant was prosecuted and acquitted under the POCA.
The government trained more than 1,000 front-line responders, including immigration, customs, and labor officials, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, social workers, church leaders, and journalists. In partnership with an international organization, the government conducted two train-the-trainer events on victim-centered investigations and prosecutions covering seven of Namibia's 14 regions. The government continued implementing its training curriculum for new immigration officers and in-service personnel. The government provided advanced training on investigation methods to police in the High Profile Crime Division, those responsible for investigating all potential trafficking crimes, and prosecutors likely to encounter trafficking victims. The government provided anti-trafficking training to an unknown number of law enforcement officers in three police colleges during the reporting period. The High Profile Crime Unit trained student social workers at the University of Namibia on victim identification. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government maintained efforts to protect trafficking victims. The government identified 21 trafficking victims, including 11 adult male victims, one adult female victim, and nine female child victims, and referred five victims to an NGO shelter, which was partially government-funded. This was compared to 12 victims identified and referred in 2016. Fifteen victims were exploited in forced labor and six were sex trafficking victims. The government did not have formal written procedures for use by all officials on victim identification and referral to care; however, the government created a checklist for law enforcement to aid in victim identification, which was introduced into the Namibian Police's (NamPol) Standard Operating Procedure Manual. The national anti-trafficking coordinating body drafted but did not adopt a national referral mechanism to formalize identification and referral procedures. In practice, labor inspectors and immigration officials contacted NamPol when an instance of potential trafficking occurred; NamPol referred victims of all crimes to temporary shelter and medical assistance. The Gender-based violence Protection Units facilities offered initial psycho-social, legal, and medical support to crime victims, in cooperation with the police, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW), the Ministry of Health, and NGOs. Government shelters for victims of gender-based violence, including trafficking, were inadequately staffed and non-operational during the reporting period. Adult victims had the ability to seek employment and work while receiving assistance, though it is unknown how many victims did so during the reporting period. The NGO shelter that received victims during the reporting period expanded its ability to receive families and teen boys; however, there were no facilities equipped to shelter adult male victims of trafficking. The government provided 26,000 Namibian dollars ($2,110) per month to the NGO that received victims, which funded approximately 13 percent of operating costs. The government also assigned social worker interns during their final year of training to support the NGO. The government lacked standard operating procedures for shelters, which remained under development by MGECW. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration continued to provide immigration officials a printed manual to guide identification of trafficking victims.
The government did not have a policy to encourage victims' participation in investigations; the law provides for witness protection or other accommodations for vulnerable witnesses that in principle would be available for trafficking victims. There were no reports that the government detained, fined, or jailed victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; however, without uniform victim identification measures, victims may be left unidentified in the law enforcement system. The media reported that 22 Angolan nationals, many of them minors, were deported without being screened for trafficking indicators. The police and prosecutor general began implementing a formal policy to screen individuals who have been identified for deportation for trafficking before deportation. While the government had no formal policy to provide residence permits to foreign victims of trafficking, during previous reporting periods government officials made ad-hoc arrangements for victims to remain in Namibia.
The government maintained prevention efforts. The ministerial-level national committee to combat trafficking and its technical committee did not hold any official meetings during the reporting period. A working level committee met three times during the reporting period with support from an international organization. The National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons expired at the end of 2016; the government began drafting the National Gender Based Plan of Action, which will include trafficking; however, it remained pending at the close of the reporting period. The government hosted the second annual commemoration of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons where the deputy prime minister addressed the media about the importance of combating human trafficking. Government officials trained journalists on best practices for reporting on trafficking cases. The government did not report additional efforts to raise awareness. Other senior government officials held press conferences to raise awareness of the government's efforts to combat trafficking. The government continued to participate in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional data collection tool by uploading trafficking cases, victim and trafficker profiles, and sharing information with countries in the region. Through its participation in the data tool, UNODC and SADC launched the first annual draft analysis report for the region. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare employed 97 labor and occupational health and safety inspectors, who were responsible for enforcing laws against child labor. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor. The government provided anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel.
As reported over the past five years, Namibia is a source and destination country for children, and to a lesser extent women, subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Some victims are initially offered legitimate work for adequate wages, but are then subjected to forced labor in urban centers and on commercial farms. Namibian children are subjected to forced labor in agriculture, cattle herding, and domestic service, and to sex trafficking in Windhoek and Walvis Bay. A 2015 media report alleged foreign sex tourists from southern Africa and Europe exploit child sex trafficking victims. Namibians commonly house and care for children of distant relatives to provide expanded educational opportunities; however, in some instances, these children are exploited in forced labor. Among Namibia's ethnic groups, San and Zemba children are particularly vulnerable to forced labor on farms or in homes. Children from less affluent neighboring countries may be subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, including in street vending in Windhoek and other cities as well as in the fishing sector. Angolan children may be brought to Namibia for forced labor in cattle herding.
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