The Acting Deputy Chief of Mission of the USA to the Republic of South Africa, Mr James Higgiston,
The Representative from the SADC Secretariat, Mr Fernando Cumbe,
The Representative from the UNODC Regional Office for Southern Africa, Ms Lindy Muzila,
Representatives from various government departments and civil society stakeholders,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Trafficking in Persons happens all over the world – no country is immune to it.
Many of you would have seen the very recent media articles where 19 males were rescued from a house in Mondeor in southern Johannesburg. The victims, who are all believed to be Ethiopian nationals, were found at the premises and were allegedly already due to have been moved to a different location. The suspect was arrested following an operation by the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation Team and has appeared in court.
Since 2003 the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has collected information on about 225,000 victims of trafficking detected worldwide.
Globally countries are detecting and reporting more victims, and are convicting more traffickers. This can be the result of an increased capacity to identify victims and/or an increased number of trafficked victims.
Data shows that trafficking happens all around us as the share of persons trafficked within their own country has doubled in recent years to 58% of all detected victims.
According to the 2018 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, most of the victims detected across the world are females; mainly adult women, but also increasingly girls.
Most of the victims detected globally are trafficked for sexual exploitation, although this pattern is not consistent across all regions, for example, trafficking for forced labour is the most commonly detected form in sub-Saharan Africa.
The report also tells us that most of the detected trafficking victims in sub-Saharan Africa continue to be children. However, analysing the data by geographical areas shows that child trafficking is more commonly detected in West Africa than in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. East African countries detect larger shares of adults, nearly equally split between men and women.
On the other hand, countries in Southern Africa tend to detect more women, as well as men and boys in similar numbers. Girls are rarely detected in East and Southern Africa, whereas in West Africa, they are the most frequently detected victim profile.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, 99% of victims are trafficked within the same sub-region with most of the victims detected in sub-Saharan Africa are also citizens of sub-Saharan African countries.
We have these figures and trends at our disposal today because we have the data.
And we have the data because of data collection tools. Data collection tools make it possible to get a more complete picture of who the victims are, where they come from, where they are being trafficked to and for what purpose.
In short, if we don’t have the data, we cannot fight the crime.
The clandestine nature of trafficking in trafficking networks, victims’ reluctance to report crimes to the authorities, difficulties in identifying victims, and the sensitive nature of TIP related crimes such as rape and forced prostitution, present real challenges for reliable data collection.
In the past, our own TIP data collection activities revealed certain shortcomings such as the limited scope of data that is incomparable and insufficient to ascertain the true extent of the problem.
This challenge is further complicated by the information that is dispersed across different departments and agencies within government at the national, provincial and local levels and other organizations including law enforcement and NGOs each using their own criteria to define types of TIP and victims of trafficking thus generating non-comparable information.
In the absence of reliable data it is extremely difficult to say, with absolute certainty, whether incidents of TIP are increasing or decreasing, and whether the current justice responses are being effective, which then, in turn, makes it difficult for us, as government, to take appropriate policy decisions.
In April 2019, the South African government launched a comprehensive National Policy Framework (NPF), comprising a three-year strategy and action plan, it is informed by internationally recognised anti-trafficking guiding principles such as a government ownership and leadership, human rights and victim-centred based approach, a multi-disciplinary approach, civil society participation, a gender-sensitive approach and overall sustainability.
One of the key actions of the NPF is to establish a reliable TIP data collection and management system that is supported by all stakeholders.
The SADC Regional Trafficking in Persons Data Collection System was established in 2014, as part of a collaborative initiative between the SADC Secretariat and UNODC. The system was established to respond to the challenges of limited statistics on the crime in the region and the need to develop a Regional Management Information System on TIP as outlined in the 10 Year SADC Strategic Plan of Action on Combating Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (2009-2019).
It was initially piloted in Lesotho and Swaziland with some engagement of the side of South Africa. In addition to the pilot countries, the system has now been rolled out to Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) assessment conducted in 2016 highlighted the need for GLO.ACT to support the establishment of an efficient integrated data management system on TIP and the Smuggling of Migrants (SOM). In this regards, South Africa has developed a new TIP Data Template.
The Data Template was developed by the National Prosecuting Authority and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development 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 personal details of the victim and perpetrator such as sex and age.
Through the development of the Data Collection Template, government is now in a better position to confirm with greater certainty the number of identified or detected victims, who are receiving services from the government established shelters, the number of convictions, and the number of pending cases in the criminal justice system pertaining to TIP.
In addition to the importance of data collection, it is also important to highlight the services that are available to victims of human trafficking.
In terms of the national legislation and the NPF 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.)
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, 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.
Equally important is the issue of convictions. The UNODC Report tells us that while most countries have had comprehensive trafficking in persons’ legislation in place for some years, the number of convictions has only recently started to grow.
It also states that Sub-Saharan countries have recorded by far the lowest conviction rates compared to other regions of the world.
With the many interventions put in place, including the establishment of the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations in the South African Police Services as well as a specialised unit in the National Prosecuting Authority dealing with sexual and related offences, South Africa is seeing improved convictions of TIP cases.
In 2018 the National Prosecuting Authority finalised 8 cases with convictions of perpetrators for TIP offences. These cases involved 14 accused persons and the courts imposed harsher sentences, including, amongst others, 8 life sentences and a sentence of 18 years imprisonment.
Other significant developments to prevent and combat trafficking in persons include South Africa promoting new legislation to establish a Border Management Authority for the integrated management of our borders and the modernisation of our border management capability through the use of advanced technology at all our ports of entry.
The Border Management Authority will bring together relevant state agencies to protect the territorial integrity of the country, including the prevention and detection of cross border crimes.
This approach will also assist in detecting the use of fraudulent travel documents, and smuggling of persons and goods, through the deployment of multi-disciplinary teams with the capability to detect and identify possible victims of trafficking and related offences.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Yuri Fedotiv, the Executive Director of the UNODC, said -
“While we are far from ending impunity, we have made headway in the 15 years since the Protocol against Trafficking in Persons entered into force. Nearly every country now has legislation in place criminalizing human trafficking.
The international community needs to accelerate progress to build capacities and cooperation, to stop human trafficking in conflict situations and in all our societies where this terrible crime continues to operate in the shadows.”
As the we join the global community in marking this World Day Against Trafficking in Persons today, we can proudly say that we are doing exactly that – building capacity and cooperation to put a stop to human trafficking.I thank you.