By Fungai Jachi
THE Trafficking in Persons Amendment Bill which was approved by Cabinet this week has been welcomed by legal experts, at a time when Zimbabwean women are falling victim to human traffickers.
Human trafficking is a transnational organised crime that affects almost every country and Zimbabwe is no exception, with a Marondera woman having been arrested last week for sending women to Oman against their will.
It is against this background that the amendment of the Trafficking in Persons Act has been welcomed by legal experts who described it as a milestone in the country’s drive to combat the crime.
“Human trafficking is a fact and strengthening of laws a major achievement in dealing with the problem. There are so many aspects that the new legislation will address that include the definition of trafficking and how victims will be helped when they are repatriated,” said Mr Claude Beza, a Legal Expert.
“It is a progressive move because the amendments will ensure the protection of women and girls since they are the most affected by human trafficking,” noted Miss Timukudze Hungwe, a legal expert.
“The legislation will address a number of issues that include what happens to victims and the clear definition of trafficking. Clearly defining terms will help in prosecuting cases of human trafficking,” echoed Mr Eliah Zvimba, a legal expert.
The amendment to the human trafficking law is expected to among other things ensure that victims of trafficking are not liable to certain criminal offenses, elaborate on assistance to be rendered and specify the repatriation process.
The Bill will also provide for the establishment of an Anti- Trafficking in Persons Fund and determine the terms for its use.
In addition, the bill will provide for the following : establishing the criminal offence of trafficking in persons, in line with the Parlemo Protocol and the definition of the Bill will also include the definition of forced labour or service exploitation in relation to the crime of human trafficking, such as all forms of slavery or practice similar to slavery, sexual exploitation, prostitution, child and adult pornography, debt bondage, servitude, forced labour and services, child labour, unlawful removal of body organs, forced marriage, impregnation of female person against her will for the purpose of selling her child when the child is born.
Other provisions of the Bill will cover the following : non-liability of victims of trafficking assistance to victims, access to information; repatriation of victims of trafficking to and from Zimbabwe recovery ad reflection period; procedure for the identification of victims of trafficking; circumstances for the granting of a Temporary and Permanent Residence Permit. The Bill will further provide for the strengthening of the Anti-Trafficking Inter-Ministerial Committee (ATIMC) by providing for the Committee’s liaison with appropriate Government agencies and other bodies in the investigation and presentation of traffickers, the protection and rehabilitation of victims and the prevention of trafficking in persons. The Bill will also provide for the establishment of a Secretariat to the Anti-Trafficking Inter Ministerial Committee and create an Anti-Trafficking in Persons Fund and determine the terms for its use.
By Fungai Jachi