Trafficking in Persons Report 2016 - Country Narratives - Namibia

NAMIBIA: Tier 2

Namibia is a source and destination country for children, and to a lesser extent women, subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Some victims are initially offered legitimate work for adequate wages, but are then subjected to forced labor in urban centers and on commercial farms. Domestically, Namibian children are subjected to forced labor in agriculture, cattle herding, and domestic service, and to sex trafficking in Windhoek and Walvis Bay. A media report alleged that foreign sex tourists from southern Africa and Europe exploit child sex trafficking victims. Namibians commonly house and care for children of distant relatives to provide expanded educational opportunities; however, in some instances, these children are exploited in forced labor. Among Namibia’s ethnic groups, San and Zemba children are particularly vulnerable to forced labor on farms or in homes. NGOs reported persons in prostitution being taken aboard foreign vessels off the Namibian coast, some of whom may be trafficking victims. Children from Angola, Zambia, and Zimbabwe may be subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor in the fishing sector and in organized street vending in Windhoek and other cities. Angolan children may be brought to Namibia for forced labor in cattle herding. There were reports in 2013 of labor violations—potentially including forced labor—involving foreign adults and Namibian adults and children in Chinese-owned retail, construction, and fishing operations.

The Government of Namibia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government investigated seven trafficking cases and prosecuted two suspected traffickers during the reporting period, in comparison with none in 2014, and obtained its first trafficking conviction in June 2015. The government continued its efforts to finalize and enact anti-trafficking legislation, which included frequent consultation with NGOs and experts during the year. The government identified and provided shelter to five trafficking victims, although it did not institute formal victim identification and referral processes. The government established a national committee, chaired by the deputy prime minister, in February 2016. The government also appointed the permanent secretary of the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation (MIRCO) as the formal lead for anti-trafficking efforts and convened the first meeting of the technical committee to combat trafficking in November 2015. The government increased prevention efforts and conducted anti-trafficking trainings and awareness activities during the reporting period.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NAMIBIA:

Finalize and enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; increase efforts under existing law to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including for forced labor violations; develop and implement formal systematic procedures to identify victims and refer them to care; train officials on relevant legislation; allocate resources for shelter services, including to develop a plan to fully operationalize renovated safe houses specifically for trafficking victims; implement the new national action plan to guide anti-trafficking efforts; strengthen coordination among government ministries, at both the ministerial and working level; institute a unified system for collecting trafficking case data for use by all stakeholders; and increase efforts to raise awareness, specifically in rural areas.

PROSECUTION

The government increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2009 Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA) criminalizes all forms of trafficking. Under POCA, persons who participate in trafficking offenses or aid and abet trafficking offenders may be imprisoned for up to 50 years and fined, penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In April 2015, the government enacted the Child Care and Protection Bill, which includes a provision explicitly criminalizing child trafficking; however, the bill will not enter into force until regulations related to other parts of the law have been promulgated. The government consulted with an international organization to review the National Human Trafficking Bill during the reporting period; however, it was pending enactment at the end of the reporting period.

In 2015, the government conducted seven trafficking investigations, five for sex trafficking and two for forced labor. The government prosecuted two suspected trafficking cases, one of which led to Namibia’s first trafficking conviction. The court sentenced the trafficker to 13 years in prison under section 15 of POCA. In partnership with an international organization, the police established a curriculum for new recruits and immigration officials that included training on identifying and assisting trafficking victims. The government provided anti-trafficking training to 126 police officers during the reporting period. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW) trained 300 police and other government officials with its curriculum on gender-based violence, including trafficking. The government received no reports of complicity during the reporting period and did not investigate or initiate prosecutions or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking crimes.

PROTECTION

The government made modest efforts to protect trafficking victims. It identified and provided shelter to five trafficking victims during the reporting period. In one case, the government assisted in the repatriation of a Namibian domestic worker from Dubai and provided her temporary shelter. Generally, upon identification of a woman or child victim of crime, including trafficking, police transferred the victim to the Gender-Based Violation Protection Units (GBVPU), which have responsibility for referring victims of all crimes to temporary shelter and medical assistance. GBVPU facilities offered initial psycho-social, legal, and medical support to victims of crime, in cooperation with the police, MGECW, the Ministry of Health, and NGOs; however, it was unclear if trafficking victims received such services during the reporting period. The government has at least one gender-based violence shelter, open to trafficking victims, in each of Namibia’s 14 regions; however, only six were operational and there are no dedicated shelters for trafficking victims. MGECW began developing standard operating procedures for shelters. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration (MHAI) provided immigration officials a printed manual to guide identification of trafficking victims; however, the government did not have formal written procedures for use by all officials on victim identification and referral to care.

The government did not have a policy to encourage victims’ participation in investigations; the law provides for witness protection or other accommodations for vulnerable witnesses that in principle would be available for trafficking victims. There were no reports the government detained, fined, or jailed victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. Police and immigration officials, however, reportedly detained foreign street children, including potential trafficking victims, without screening for indicators of trafficking. The police and prosecutor general began implementing a formal policy to screen deportees for trafficking. While the government did not identify any foreign victims during the reporting period, it remained without the ability to provide them temporary or permanent residency.

PREVENTION

The government increased efforts to prevent human trafficking. The government established a national committee to combat trafficking, chaired by the deputy prime minister, in February 2016. The government designated the MIRCO permanent secretary to chair the technical committee to combat trafficking, responsible for anti-trafficking activities and planning. The technical committee, which first convened in November 2015, included representatives from the police, Office of the Prosecutor General, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Health and Social Services, MGECW, MIRCO, and MHAI. The technical committee drafted a national action plan to combat trafficking in persons to replace the plan that expires at the end of 2016. In partnership with an international donor, the government created a multi-sector steering committee and signed a memorandum of understanding in preparation for a project to strengthen inter-ministerial coordination to respond to trafficking cases and to launch a public awareness campaign to inform Namibians about trafficking and how to identify it; the project began shortly after the end of the reporting period. The government conducted activities to raise awareness about trafficking, including holding workshops on child trafficking, distributing awareness material in several dialects, and training on identifying trafficking victims, reaching more than 1,700 Namibians. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare employed 73 labor inspectors and 24 occupational health and safety inspectors during the reporting period, who were responsible for enforcing laws against child labor. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor. The government provided anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel.