Trafficking in Persons Report 2012 - Swaziland


Swaziland is a source, destination, and transit country for women and children who are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, and forced labor in agriculture. Swazi girls, particularly orphans, are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude in the cities of Mbabane and Manzini, as well as in South Africa and Mozambique. Reports suggest labor brokers, the majority of whom recruit Swazi nationals for work in South African mines, fraudulently recruit workers and charge excessive fees – means often used to facilitate trafficking crimes. Swazi chiefs may coerce children and adults – through threats and intimidation – to work for the king. Swazi boys are forced to labor in commercial agriculture and market vending within the country. Some Swazi women are forced into prostitution in South Africa and Mozambique after voluntarily migrating in search of work. Traffickers reportedly force Mozambican women into prostitution in Swaziland, or transit Swaziland with their victims en route to South Africa. Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland for work washing cars, herding livestock, and portering; some of these boys subsequently become victims of forced labor. Indian nationals transit Swaziland en route to South Africa, where they may subsequently be subjected to forced labor.

The Government of Swaziland does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the last year, the government investigated several suspected trafficking cases. However, in attempting to resolve one case involving six individuals identified as trafficking victims by authorities, the government closed the investigation and convicted and deported the victims on immigration violations. The resolution of this case prompts grave concerns, revealing that Swazi authorities are without the capacity to adequately investigate trafficking cases and appropriately protect victims. Although the anti-trafficking task force and its secretariat continued to coordinate interagency efforts, prevention efforts dominated their work and lack of funds hindered their efforts to protect victims. This lack of resources and capacity and increasing resource constraints hindered progress on all fronts.

Recommendations for Swaziland: Complete the review and drafting of amendments to the 2010 anti-trafficking act to allow for permanent residency of foreign trafficking victims; complete and disseminate implementing regulations to fully implement the 2010 anti-trafficking act’s victim protection and prevention provisions; differentiate the process of victim identification from the prosecution of offenders, as victim identification should not be tied to the successful prosecution of a trafficker; investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, including internal trafficking cases, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; begin regulating labor brokers and investigate allegations of fraudulent recruitment; train officials on the 2010 anti-trafficking act and case investigation techniques; develop and implement formal procedures to identify trafficking victims proactively and train officials on such procedures; continue partnering with non-governmental, international, and religious organizations to provide services to victims; develop a formal system to refer victims to such care; institute a unified system for collecting trafficking case data for use by all stakeholders; and continue to conduct anti-trafficking awareness campaigns.


The Government of Swaziland’s anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts decreased during the reporting period. The government did not convict any trafficking offenders. The government investigated several trafficking cases; however, it was unable to provide detailed information on all but one of these cases. The People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act, 2009, which became effective in March 2010, prescribes penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment, plus a fine to compensate the victim for losses, under section 12 for the trafficking of adults and up to 25 years’ imprisonment under section 13 for the trafficking of children; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government has yet to draft or enact the necessary implementing regulations for the law or to successfully convict a trafficking offender under the 2010 anti-trafficking act.

In May 2011, the government charged a civil servant with rape of a prostituted child, as well as a suspected female trafficker who procured the 13-year-old victim for the civil servant; charges were dropped in this case due to insufficient evidence. In July 2011, the Royal Swaziland Police stopped a minibus transporting eight Indians en route from Mozambique to South Africa, including six male passengers, one female passenger, and one driver. Police released the driver on account of his proper immigration documentation and took the seven passengers into police custody, notifying the secretariat that they were potential trafficking victims. Authorities believed that six of the passengers were to be subjected to forced labor in South Africa, while the seventh was believed to be smuggled. Unable to locate the suspected trafficker, Swazi officials concluded it was too difficult and costly to investigate the case under the anti-trafficking law and, instead, prosecuted and convicted all seven Indian nationals with immigration violations, sentencing them to 20 days’ imprisonment or payment equivalent to approximately $27 before deporting them to India. After this case revealed inconsistencies between the anti-trafficking act and the Immigration Act of 1992, the government initiated a process to harmonize these laws. In late 2011, in partnership with UNODC, the secretariat held two workshops to identify all laws in conflict with the 2010 anti-trafficking act; by February 2012, stakeholders drafted a number of recommended amendments, which were sent to the attorney general. During the reporting period, the Royal Swaziland Police Service cooperated with South African and U.S. counterparts in the investigation of trafficking cases. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to its officials during the year.


The government demonstrated minimal capacity to protect trafficking victims during the reporting period. The secretariat lacked sufficient funds to shelter and feed the seven Indian nationals – six of whom authorities identified as trafficking victims – during the investigation of their case; through the assistance of local NGOs and with members of the secretariat contributing from their personal finances, the secretariat was ultimately able to house, feed, clothe, and provide counseling and medical care to all seven for several weeks. Before being placed in the protective custody of the secretariat, the six identified trafficking victims had been kept in police detention for one to two days and were ultimately charged with immigration violations and deported. The government assisted NGOs by providing professional services, including health care and counseling, at the government’s expense. The government continued to lack systematic procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims and their referral to shelters. Some cases of trafficking were not adequately investigated, leading to victims being charged with immigration violations and placed in detention facilities. The government did not offer foreign victims alternatives to their removal to countries where they may face retribution or hardship.


The government maintained its modest efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. The Task Force for the Prevention of People Trafficking and People Smuggling and its secretariat, which coordinates the work of the task force, held regular meetings and encouraged information sharing. In May 2011, in partnership with UNODC, the task force held a stakeholder workshop, producing a framework document, which will guide the drafting of the national strategic plan in 2012. The secretariat conducted public awareness activities at the Swaziland international trade fair in Manzini in August 2011, targeting traditional leaders, students, young women, and parents with information on preventing child trafficking and how to report suspected cases. The task force, secretariat, police, and immigration officials made presentations at three NGO-funded workshops on the role of government authorities in anti-trafficking efforts, reaching over 350 people. The anti-trafficking hotline – funded and managed by the government – continued to receive tips on potential cases; the government was unable to provide statistics on the number of trafficking-related tips received during the year. The Ministry of Labor conducted more than 1,800 labor inspections in 2011, none of which were focused on child labor or revealed child labor violations. The government has not identified or prosecuted labor brokers, who were alleged to fraudulently recruit workers and charge excessive fees; all labor brokers remained unregulated. Although the government attempted to reduce demand for commercial sex acts by arresting clients of children in prostitution, it did not report the current status of these cases. Swaziland is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.