Zambia develops a national plan of action against trafficking in human beings

Zambia develops a national plan of action against trafficking in human beings

The Zambian government is building a strategy to protect people (especially children and women) from the harmful effects of human trafficking. It is supported by an EU-funded programme implementented by ILO, IOM and UNICEF.

In the last few years, human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation has increasingly been recognised as an issue that requires urgent attention in Southern Africa.  Zambia in particular is both a source country from which victims are recruited or obtained, as well as a transit country through which traffickers transport their victims en route to their destination in the region (e.g. South Africa, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo) or other parts of the world (e.g. United Kingdom, USA). Furthermore, internal trafficking of women and children is thought to be common in the country. Children from poor households, as well as orphans and street children are thought to be particularly vulnerable to being trafficked to perform exploitative work as domestic workers or in mining, agriculture and sexual exploitation. Children of more affluent rural families are also at risk of trafficking, as sending children to the city is perceived as a status symbol.

In order to better fight this phenomenon, Zambia passed in 2008 its first Anti-Human Trafficking Act and developed a National Policy to Combat Human Trafficking. An inter-ministerial national steering committee was set-up and adopted a comprehensive multiannual action plan. The action plan provides for strengthening Government’s response to cases of trafficking, as well as the development of partnerships with non-state actors to achieve improved public awareness, and the provision of appropriate and accessible services to victims of trafficking.  A newly created anti-human trafficking secretariat that benefits from the experience of experts from EU national administrations is coordinating the new programmes in place.

An EU-funded €1.6 million intiative implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s fund (UNICEF) aims to support the governement programmes. The initiative includes the following activities :

  • Bring together government and non-government stakeholders involved in the response to trafficking in Zambia;
  • Research to establish the nature, extent and drivers of internal trafficking for domestic work in Zambia ;
  • Support activities that seek to change public attitudes to exploitative child work, particularly where discriminatory practices and trafficking means that children (often relatives) care for other children and do housework on a full time basis, instead of attending school, under the guise of supporting dependents;
  • Support improved data collection and reporting on trafficking offences and other offenses against victim;
  • Support to the implementation of the Government’s Communication Strategy aimed at raising public awareness of the nature and dangers of human trafficking;
  • Support to training and capacity building of trade union officials, employers’ representatives and labour inspectors, building knowledge of trafficking, awareness on worker’s rights and fair employment practices, and strategies for empowering workers and their families against cases of trafficking;
  • Support to the  990 toll-free Counter Trafficking Talkline, covering Zambia’s 9 provinces, and operating 24hours a day
  • Reinforcement of capacities for provision of appropriate services to meet the needs of victims of trafficking through a referral network of safe-houses, one-stop centres, and women’s and children’s shelters;

Other activities being implemented by the Joint Programme under IOM’s Counter Trafficking Assistance Programme include:

  • Reinforcement of capacities of Law Enforcement and civil society to operationalise the Anti-Trafficking legislation, including training for law enforcement officers and CSOs, and the development of SOPs for handling trafficking cases;
  • Direct assistance to victims of trafficking, including the provision of safe and secure shelter, medical & psycho-social care, and repatriation and reintegration assistance.

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