Human trafficking legislation to be gazetted for public comment

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pretoria - Significant progress has been made in the drafting of legislation on human trafficking and it should be gazetted soon for public comment.

"We are proud to state that we have achieved progress in terms of the proposed legislation on human trafficking which will be gazetted shortly for public comment," Minister in the Presidency, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, told the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Pretoria on Monday.

The legislation on human trafficking will go a long way in identifying the perpetrators of human trafficking, as well as in the investigation of these cases and subsequent prosecution.

The committee focused on Harmful Traditional Practices following reports of child abduction, forced and early marriages as part of the "ukuthwala" tradition being practiced in the Eastern Cape.

According to the minister, poverty and unemployment increased the opportunities for trafficking in women.

New forms of sexual exploitation included sex tourism; the recruitment of domestic labour from developing countries to work in developed countries and organised marriages between women from developing countries and foreign nationals which are incompatible with the equal enjoyment of rights by women.

Dr Tshabalala-Msimang said human trafficking put women at special risk of violence and abuse.

South Africa does not currently have a legal definition of human trafficking, either in common law or in statute.

Depending on the circumstances of a particular case, there are a number of offences in terms of which a person or persons suspected of being involved in the trafficking of persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation may be charged.

The proposed legislation contains a specific provision relating to the trafficking in persons for sexual purposes.

Trafficking in persons has been practised for centuries with slaves being captured in Africa and transported to other continents.

However, the last decade saw an increased awareness of the problem including the social, political, and economical ills that it engenders.

"This led to an increased focus on efforts to combat trafficking in persons. All over the world men and especially women and children are trafficked into a variety of exploitable situations, in domestic and international economies," the minister said.