Special measure to tackle human trafficking

*By Dr. David Okello

Harare, 29 July 2016 - Human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labour and sex. IMG_9114_0.jpg

The UN International Labour Organization estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally. This estimate also includes victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation. 

While it is not known how many of these victims were trafficked, the estimate implies that currently, there are millions of trafficking in persons victims in the world.

To address this scourge, the UN General Assembly has put in place a Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, urging Governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat this scourge. 

The Plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN’s broader programmes in order to boost development and strengthen security worldwide. 

Here in Zimbabwe, the 2016 World Day against Trafficking in Persons assumes an ominous relevance in light of the ongoing reports of trafficking of Zimbabwean women to Kuwait. 

On too many occasions, Zimbabwean nationals, particularly women and girls have fallen prey to human trafficking. Case in point, we have witnessed the recent fiasco where unsuspecting, innocent and hardworking Zimbabwean women and girls were ensnared by a too-good-to-be-true dream jobs into human trafficking in Kuwait. 

In response to the global call and the to address the challenges, Zimbabwe has put in place an Act to curb and prevent trafficking in persons and has put a special measure in a form of  national action plan to implement and enforce the act.

This parasitic crime feeds on vulnerability, thrives in times of uncertainty, and profits from inaction. 

Human traffickers and migrant smugglers are taking advantage of misery to turn a profit. Criminals prey on people in need and without support, and they see migrants, especially children, as easy targets for exploitation, violence and abuse. 

We clearly need to do more to stop human traffickers as part of coordinated and comprehensive responses to continuing migration challenges we are facing around the world and in Zimbabwe.

Through the national action plan that Zimbabwe launched on 29 July 2016, we can reinforce protection for vulnerable children, women and men, and help promote the safety and dignity of migrants at all stages of their journey.

On the occasion of the 2016 United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons, the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon said, “Every country must join together to overcome this transnational threat by supporting and protecting victims while pursuing and prosecuting the criminals. On the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us resolve to act as one in the name of justice and dignity for all." 

The UN Secretary General called on countries to establish a strong legal basis for action against human trafficking. He encouraged all States to adopt and implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on human trafficking as well as all core international human rights instruments.   

The United Nations family in Zimbabwe remains committed to support the implementation of the National Action Plan as it has done so during the preparation process.

Dr. David Okello is WHO representative in Zimbabwe