Trafficking in Persons Report 2011

ZAMBIA (Tier 2)

Zambia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Most trafficking occurred within the country’s borders and involved women and children from rural areas exploited in cities in domestic servitude or other types of forced labor in the agricultural, textile, and construction sectors. Zambian trafficking victims have also been identified in South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Namibia. While orphans and street children are the most vulnerable, children of more affluent village families are also vulnerable to trafficking, as sending children to the city for work is perceived as a status symbol. Some child domestic workers receive adequate room and board, but others are starved, beaten, deprived of sleep, or overworked to the point of exhaustion – practices indicative of forced labor. To a lesser extent, Zambia is a destination for migrants from Malawi and Mozambique who are exploited in forced labor or forced prostitution after arrival in Zambia. Asian and South Asian males continue to be trafficked to and through Zambia for forced labor in the mining and construction industries in Zambia or South Africa. An increasing number of Chinese and Indian men recruited to work in Chinese- or Indian-owned mines in Zambia’s Copperbelt region are reportedly kept in conditions of forced labor by the mining companies. Officials believe transnational labor trafficking of South Asians through Zambia is becoming increasingly organized and linked to criminal groups based largely in South Africa. Zambia’s geographic location and numerous porous borders make it a nexus for trafficking from the Great Lakes Region to South Africa. While the movement of Congolese children to and through Zambia remains a concern, the destination of these children remains unclear; some may be trafficking victims.

The Government of Zambia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government increased law enforcement efforts by convicting one trafficking offender under its 2008 anti-trafficking law and investigating and prosecuting three additional suspected trafficking cases. Government-provided protection for victims remained weak; though the government continued to provide services to victims through partnerships with international organizations and NGOs, the continued lack of shelters significantly hindered appropriate victim care, as victims were, at times, detained in jails alongside trafficking offenders.

Recommendations for Zambia: Train police, immigration officials, prosecutors, and judges on effectively investigating and prosecuting trafficking crimes; formalize and implement victim identification and referral procedures; improve government services for human trafficking victims as provided for in the new law, including the establishment of victim shelters; increase officials’ awareness on the application of the specific provisions of the new anti-trafficking law, particularly among labor officials and magistrates; investigate and prosecute mining company personnel who operate mines using forced labor; institute a unified system for documenting and collecting data on human trafficking cases for use by law enforcement, immigration, and social welfare officials; and continue to conduct public awareness campaigns.


The Government of Zambia demonstrated increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period, convicting one trafficking offender under the 2008 anti-trafficking law and investigating and prosecuting additional suspected trafficking cases. Zambia’s comprehensive Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2008 criminalizes all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties that range from 20 years’ to life imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In 2010, the government amended its Immigration Act, adding additional prohibitions against human trafficking. During the reporting period, the government convicted one trafficking offender, acquitted two suspected traffickers, and detained two suspects who are awaiting trial or sentencing; two investigations were ongoing at the end of the year. In December 2010, a Zambian court convicted a Zambian man under the anti-trafficking law, and sentenced him to 10 years’ imprisonment for confining seven Indian nationals in a Zambian home with the intention of forcing them to labor in construction in South Africa. The sentence for this conviction was below the minimum prescribed penalty of the anti-trafficking law. Additional cases were investigated as trafficking offenses; however, with insufficient evidence on the intentions of the suspects to exploit the potential victims, the courts dropped the human trafficking charges and tried these as smuggling cases or dismissed them. One such case involved seven Congolese children who were traveling with individuals who were not their legal guardians, were locked in a small room, and were unaware of why they left the Congo or where they were going; though originally charged as a trafficking case, with insufficient evidence on the intent to exploit these children, this case is pending trial as a smuggling case. In partnership with IOM, the government provided anti-trafficking training for law enforcement and immigration officials. In addition, during the reporting period, the Director of the Research, Planning and Information Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs led trafficking awareness briefings for new police recruits and immigration officers at the Police Training Academy. An immigration official, charged with trafficking in 2010, was dismissed from his job and convicted of smuggling, as the court lacked sufficient evidence to support a conviction under the anti-trafficking law; he was given a suspended sentence in September 2010. The government reported no other investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of public officials complicit in human trafficking. The government did not take action to criminally prosecute mining company personnel who reportedly operated their mines through the use of forced labor; however, the government did not receive any new reports of trafficked labor in the mining sector during the reporting period.


The government continued to ensure victim care through partnerships with international organizations and local NGOs during the reporting period. These efforts remained lacking in critical areas, however, including the establishment of victim shelters, though such initiatives are mandated in the 2008 anti-trafficking law. The government did not develop or implement systematic procedures for the identification of trafficking victims, nor did it demonstrate use of a formal mechanism for referring victims to NGOs for protective services. Due to limited secure shelter space in certain parts of the country and limited means for transporting victims, foreign victims were jailed alongside traffickers for extended periods. The government acknowledged this shortcoming and, through a partnership with an international NGO, began to plan the construction of Zambia’s first dedicated human trafficking shelter. While existing NGO shelters offered limited accommodation for women and children, no services were available for men. The Department of Immigration and the National Secretariat identified 37 potential trafficking victims and informally referred 18 of these to IOM for care; IOM independently identified and assisted four additional victims with psychological counseling, medical treatment, and skills training during the reporting period. The government also sustained a partnership with IOM on the repatriation of victims; during the reporting period, 18 Congolese and one Zimbabwean were repatriated to their home countries. The government offers temporary residency and legal alternatives to the removal of victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution; during the reporting period, the government granted temporary residency to at least 19 victims. Without proper procedures for the identification of victims and with the unavailability of shelters, the government likely arrested, jailed, and penalized victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Officials encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers; during the reporting period, one trafficking offender was convicted based on testimony provided by victims.


The Zambian government maintained its efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. In 2010, the government worked with partners to prioritize and implement key components of the 2009 National Anti-Trafficking Plan, including multi-media outreach, employer workshops, and the formation of child coalitions to raise awareness on human trafficking. During the year, the government developed the 2011-2012 National Anti-Trafficking Plan, which prioritizes the development of victim referral procedures. It also selected representatives of government ministries to serve on the national anti-trafficking Secretariat, created in 2009; however, they remain overburdened by their primary functions due to understaffing in their respective ministries. The six members of the Secretariat met monthly and, in addition, held several ad hoc meetings as necessary in response to specific cases. The government continued its “Break the Chain of Human Trafficking” campaign, with support from the UN Joint Programme and local NGOs. Beginning in October 2010, the government helped plan and participated in a UN Joint Programme-funded outreach campaign on gender-based violence and human trafficking, including forced labor, and involving school debates, cycle races, marathons, dramatic performances, with traditional leaders and community radio taking part. As a result of this campaign, child coalitions were formed in 10 districts to continue awareness-raising efforts. Throughout 2010, the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services spearheaded a 13-episode English language television program on human trafficking, as well as an interactive radio program in seven local languages. In 2010, a Zambian court sentenced a Zambian man to 18 years’ imprisonment for selling his 7-year-old daughter for the purpose of harvesting her organs for use in ritual practices in Tanzania. Action to combat labor trafficking was hampered by an inadequate number of labor inspectors; during the reporting period, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) conducted 15 child labor inspections, none of which resulted in prosecutions. In December 2010, the MLSS, in partnership with the UN Joint Programme, conducted a workshop for employers and trade unions on the demand for forced labor, working towards the development of employer guidelines, and both entities partnered to begin a study on internal trafficking to be completed in 2011. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defense provided anti-trafficking training to Zambian troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.

Associated documents

  • Document ID 1240158 Related / Associated
  • Methodology associated with Trafficking in persons report 2011

    Trafficking in Persons Report 2011 (Periodical Report, English)