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Keynote Address by the Deputy Minister of the Justice and Constitutional Development, the Hon JH Jeffery, MP, at the Launch of the Prevention and Combatting of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) National Policy Framework, held in Pretoria, 25 April 2019

Programme Director,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen, friends

This past weekend it was Easter.  I am told that every year, on Good Friday, the Pope reads certain meditations for the Way of the Cross prayer service.

This past Friday’s meditations were specifically focussed on human trafficking and the plight of migrants. One of the meditations – written by Sister Eugenia Bonetti, an 80-year-old Italian nun – reads as follows:

“Let us think of all those children in various parts of the world who cannot go to school but are instead exploited in mines, fields and fisheries, bought and sold by human traffickers for organ harvesting, used and abused on our streets by many….

Men, women and children are bought and sold like slaves by the new traders in human lives.”

Regardless of whether or not one is religious, or to which religion one belongs, one has to agree with Sister Bonetti. What she is saying is absolutely true.

With regards to sex trafficking alone, the International Labour Organisation estimates that there are 4,8 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally.

And sex trafficking is but one form of human trafficking – there are many other forms, such as debt bondage, labour trafficking, organ smuggling, domestic servitude, forced marriage and forced criminality.

When we passed our Prevention and Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act, we said that the search for improved socio-economic circumstances and the demand for the services of victims of trafficking contribute to making persons vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking.

We passed the legislation because we were concerned by the increase of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and the role played by organised criminal networks in the trafficking of persons globally.

As one of today’s presenters, Dr Marcell van der Watt, recently wrote:

“Trafficking in persons is by no means a recent phenomenon. It is rooted in South Africa’s historical landscape and is fundamentally enabled by the country’s deep structural inequalities.

A systemic response and culture shift is needed – one that radically restrains the demand for cheap labour and sex, and severs any hint of corruption and compromise.”

We are confident that the legislation, which came into operation in August 2015, along with the National Policy Framework that we are launching today, will bring us a step closer to this much-needed systemic response.

South Africa’s efforts are directed at all forms of TIP – in other words, not only sex trafficking, but all forms of trafficking in persons, thereby creating a comprehensive legal tool to combat trafficking in persons in all its forms.

The Act outlines legal prescripts for arresting and prosecution of perpetrators of TIP as well as providing required support services for the victims and includes a broad definition of trafficking and sets out various trafficking-related offences that are subject to harsh penalties.

And we have already put structures in place at national and provincial levels. A National Inter-sectoral Committee on Trafficking in Persons (NICTIP) which comprises of national departmental representatives from, amongst others, Justice and Constitutional Development, Health, Home Affairs, International Relations and  Cooperation, Labour, Social Development, Women, the SAPS, the NPA as well as civil society organizations was established.   The Committee leads the implementation and administration of the Act at a national government level.

Provincial Task Teams on Trafficking in Persons were also established as well as Provincial Rapid Response Teams to attend to operational matters relating to suspected complaints and pending cases of trafficking in persons and providing support to victims.

These structures constitute South Africa’s National Referral Mechanism, as outlined in UN Instruments on National Referral Mechanisms (NRMs).

The objectives of the structures are to identify, support, protect and promote the rights of victims of trafficking in South Africa. This is a framework by which the South African Government will meet its legal obligations under the TIP Act and the TIP NPF, as well as international and regional treaties.

Other measures taken include general awareness campaigns to sensitise communities on TIP issues which were undertaken by governmental departments in partnership with civil society.

By May this year, we would have finalised the generic training manual on the TIP Act, thereby providing uniform standardised, integrated and multi-disciplinary training to role-players in the criminal justice system. This training will be rolled out in all the provinces in the current financial year.

An integrated and holistic Immigration Policy is receiving attention and the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster departments have made the combating of trafficking of persons a priority in the Cluster’s activities to ensure all persons in South Africa are and feel safe.

As you know, we also partnering with the UNODC under the Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) programme, which is a joint initiative by the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The GLO.ACT programme is being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Children's Fund and is assisting selected countries develop and implement comprehensive national counter-trafficking and counter-smuggling responses.

So why do we now need a National Policy Framework?

The Act highlights the need for co-ordinated implementation, application and administration of its provisions, including the development of a National Policy Framework (NPF).

Addressing a complex phenomenon such as TIP is challenging and efforts to curb the crime and protect its victims require the intervention of a multiplicity of stakeholders, including governmental departments and agencies, non-governmental organisations, civil society at large and international organisations.

A comprehensive national policy framework is therefore necessary to foster a shared understanding of the phenomenon and to provide a coordinated response among different stakeholders.

The NPF is important, because its strategy and action plan has been informed by internationally recognised anti-trafficking guiding principles such as a human rights/victim-centred approach, a multi-disciplinary approach, government ownership, civil society participation, a gender-sensitive approach and overall sustainability.

In addition, the strategy addresses the 4 important pillars of anti-trafficking interventions, namely Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, and Partnership (both at a national and international level).

The NPF seeks to ensure all government departments and other engaged stakeholders from civil society are collectively guided in the implementation of anti-trafficking responses and of their statutory responsibilities.

In short, the NPF will make the Act work better.

The NPF intends to support the implementation of the Act to ensure that the criminal justice system is effective in prosecuting criminals, protecting the victims of trafficking and promoting a cooperative and aligned response among all government departments, as well as with civil society organisations engaged in assisting and supporting trafficked persons.

As a strategic planning tool, the NPF is also key to securing support and to ensure the optimal and accountable use of resources.

The NPF will guide the implementation, enforcement and administration of the TIP Act.

By launching the NPF today, and let me add that it was developed in consultation with stakeholders - provincially, nationally and internationally, we are raising awareness with a view to ensuring a uniform, coordinated and cooperative approach by all government departments, organs of state and institutions in dealing with matters relating to the trafficking of persons and thus enhancing service delivery as envisaged by the TIP Act.

I also want to mention our new TIP Data Tool. We’ve often raised the issue of the need for reliable data. The Data Tool was developed by the NPA and the DoJ&CD to respond to questions from various international fora.

It aims to collect data and focuses on important questions such as, for example, the total number of trafficking victims (suspected and/or confirmed) identified by government during a specific reporting period, as well as an indication of the form of trafficking and the details – sex, age, nationality - of the victims and the perpetrators.

It asks how many victims were identified during the reporting period by NGOs or other non-governmental entities?
Of these, how many victims did the government refer to care facilities for assistance?  How many victims were assisted during the reporting period?

These are some of the details we need to know in order to respond adequately to the combating of TIP.

I want to stress that services are offered to all victims of trafficking – whether they are suspected of being victims or confirmed as victims, they are included in services rendered by care facilities (such as help centres, Thuthuzela Care Centres, Ikhaya Lethemba, government hospitals, accredited shelters, child and youth care centres, temporary safe care, Khuseleka One Stop Centres, individual placements, and so forth.) 

So even if the investigation subsequently indicates that the potential victim was not a victim of trafficking, they can still receive the services.

Other services available to victims include secure care, sheltering, case conferences, psycho-social intervention, repatriation/re-unification, psycho-social support, psychiatrist services, psychological services, medical treatment, court preparation, assistance with documentation issues, full medical and other health assessments, the administration of health checks and chronic medication when needed, the linking with translators at the assessment phase when needed, the use of specific psychologists fluent in the language of victims when needed, and continued support by appointed social workers.

In cases of illegal prostitution or sexual exploitation, there are steps government takes to proactively identify trafficking victims during raids or other encounters with commercial sex establishments.

The data tool tells us about the methods of trafficking, in that the majority of victims detected were in smuggling cases from countries of origin which turned into trafficking during the journey to South Africa or at destination. Most are young females who are being promised jobs in South Africa.

They are being exploited along the journey as means of payment to the transporters who, upon arrival, hand them over for further exploitation as being presented for forced prostitution or extended underpaid/unpaid domestic work.

We are seeing improved convictions of TIP cases. For example, in 2018, there were 8 cases with convictions of individuals for TIP offences. These cases involved 14 accused persons and the sentences included, amongst others, 8 life sentences and a sentence of 18 years imprisonment.

I want to acknowledge the importance of partnership and the role played by civil society. There is good collaboration with NGOs on trafficking cases.

As mentioned, Government established the NICTIP, which is comprised of the relevant departments and participating NGOs. NICTIP further established task teams which are also at provincial level to further maintain partnership with NGOs and other service providers.

We simply would not be able to do this work without the partnership of civil society NGOs.  

For example, the Department of Home Affairs is working jointly with NGOs in screening possible victims through operations at ports of entry, such as Love Justice which is an NGO operating at selected ports of entry, working hand in hand with immigration officers.

With regards to consultation on the National Policy Framework, the Act mandates the Director-General of Justice and Constitutional Development to develop the draft NPF after various consultations with a number of stakeholders – such as the National Commissioner of South African Police Service, the National Director of Public Prosecutions, the Chief Executive Officer of the Government Communications Information Systems, the Commissioner of South African Revenue Services and the Directors-General of Health, Home Affairs, International Relations and Cooperation, Labour, Social Development, State Security Agency and Department of Women respectively.

The draft NPF had to include guidelines for implementation of priorities and for measuring progress on achievement, ensuring that the different role-players comply with roles and responsibilities allocated to them and monitoring overall implementation.

Section 40 of the Act further requires the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services to approve the national policy framework, after consultation with the Minister in the Presidency responsible for performance, monitoring and evaluation, and the Ministers of Finance, Home Affairs, Health, International Relations and Cooperation, Labour, Police, Social Development, State Security and Women as well as the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

On the 5th of March this year, the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster approved and supported the implementation of the NPF and on the 1st of April, Minister Masutha approved the NPF for roll-out.

The implementation of the NPF is coordinated and monitored by the DOJ&CD, under the auspices of the National Inter-Sectorial Committee on Trafficking in Persons.

The NPF must be tabled in Parliament and must be published in the Gazette within two months after tabling in Parliament. In addition the NPF must be reviewed within 3 years of its publication and at least once every 5 years thereafter.

I want to sincerely thank and acknowledge everyone who assisted us in finalising this NPF and who supports us in our greater anti-trafficking efforts.

A special word of thanks to the European Union, the UNODC, the IOM and UNICEF as our GLO.ACT partners and also to all the civil society bodies for their very valued contributions.

Also a sincere thank you to the various departments and institutions who serve on our TIP structures and to the various presenters and representatives who are here today to share their expertise and to support us in our anti-TIP efforts.

On a more personal note, as the term of this administration is coming to an end, thank you to every one of you for your support over the past 5 years.

I think that, together, we have achieved much and it has been a pleasure to work with you.

I thank you.