Trafficking in Persons Report 2015 - Country Narratives - Swaziland


Swaziland is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Swazi girls, particularly orphans, are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude, primarily in Swaziland and South Africa. Swazi chiefs may coerce children and adults—through threats and intimidation—to work for the king. Swazi boys and foreign children are forced to labor in commercial agriculture, including cattle herding, and market vending within the country. Traffickers reportedly force Mozambican women into prostitution in Swaziland, or transit Swaziland 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. Reports suggest labor brokers fraudulently recruit and charge excessive fees to Swazi nationals for work in South African mines—means often used to facilitate trafficking crimes. Swazi men in border communities are recruited for forced labor in South Africa’s timber industry. Traffickers utilize Swaziland as a transit country for transporting foreign victims from beyond the region to South Africa for forced labor. Some Swazi women are forced into prostitution in South Africa and Mozambique after voluntarily migrating in search of work.

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 year, the government conducted nine investigations, an increase from three the previous year, and initiated prosecution of an internal child sex trafficking case. Nonetheless, the government did not obtain a conviction during the reporting period. The government continued to assist victims with basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter, toiletries, counseling, and medical care in collaboration with NGOs. It provided repatriation assistance to one Swazi national, and the police cooperated with South African counterparts in the investigation of transnational trafficking cases. The anti-trafficking taskforce and its secretariat continued to effectively guide anti-trafficking efforts in 2014 and increased awareness-raising efforts, introducing a bi-monthly newspaper column and radio program to educate the public on trafficking.


Enact amendments to the 2010 anti-trafficking act to allow for permanent residency of foreign trafficking victims; complete and disseminate implementing regulations for the 2010 anti-trafficking act’s victim protection and prevention provisions; vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, including domestic trafficking cases, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; begin regulating labor brokers and investigate allegations of fraudulent recruitment; ensure the activities of the taskforce, secretariat, and implementing departments are sufficiently funded, particularly to enable the provision of adequate accommodation and care to victims and implementation of the strategic framework; ensure victim identification is not tied to the successful prosecution of a trafficker; institutionalize training of officials, particularly police, prosecutors, and judges, on the 2010 anti-trafficking act and case investigation techniques; develop and implement formal procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims and train officials on such procedures; complete development of a formal system to refer victims to care; establish a unified system for collecting trafficking case data for use by all stakeholders; and conduct anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns, particularly in the rural areas.


The government maintained modest anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Section 12 of the People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act, 2009, which became effective in 2010, prescribes penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment for the trafficking of adults. Section 13 of the act prescribes penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for trafficking of children, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government has not drafted or enacted implementing regulations for the law or used it to successfully convict a trafficking offender. A 2011 trafficking case revealed inconsistencies between the anti-trafficking act and the Immigration Act of 1992, leading to the deportation of six victims.

The government investigated nine suspected trafficking cases, and initiated one prosecution; however, it did not obtain any convictions during the reporting period. The government frequently confused crimes involving transnational movement with trafficking offenses. In April, 2014 the High Court of Swaziland closed one prosecution, initiated in February 2013, in which it was unable to convict two suspected traffickers for allegedly coercing a Nigerian woman to sell goods under conditions indicative of forced labor; the accused were released, although one person was charged with assault. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.

During the reporting period, the secretariat conducted a series of trainings for the police and labor inspectorate, including victim identification and care procedures, as well as training to improve communication and cooperation between officials. Additionally, two part-time instructors continued to provide anti-trafficking training at the police college for all in-service and pre-service police officers during the reporting period. In partnership with Mozambican and South African authorities, the government continued its collaborative work on cross-border issues, including human trafficking. During the reporting period, the police cooperated with South African counterparts in the investigation of transnational trafficking cases.


The government sustained modest efforts to protect trafficking victims. The government identified and sheltered one victim during the reporting period in a secure witness protection facility. The police reported other potential victims were likely identified during the reporting period, but could not confirm any information on this. The government provided victims with basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter, toiletries, counseling, and medical care in collaboration with NGOs. The government utilized the equivalent of $700 from a victim assistance fund for these services. The government repatriated one Mozambican child during the reporting period.

The government developed guidelines to be used by all front-line officers to assist in the proactive identification and treatment of victims; however, these guidelines were not distributed to all relevant officials during the reporting period. Although the government, in partnership with UNODC, continued its development of a national victim referral mechanism and standard operating procedures for the management of trafficking cases, it continued to lack systematic procedures for their referral to care. There were no reports the government detained, fined, or jailed victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. During the reporting period, the immigration department initiated drafting of proposed amendments to the immigration act to provide immunity from prosecution to victims and witnesses of trafficking, to conform that law to the provisions of the People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act, and to create a renewable permit specific to trafficking victims allowing them to remain in Swaziland for up to two years.


The government maintained modest efforts to prevent trafficking through awareness campaigns; however, public awareness in rural areas remained a concern. The government continued implementation of its national action plan through ongoing collaboration between government and non-governmental organizations. The Task Force for the Prevention of People Trafficking and People Smuggling and its secretariat, which coordinates the work of the taskforce, held regular meetings and continued to be instrumental in guiding the government’s anti-trafficking response. The secretariat conducted public awareness activities at the Swaziland international trade fair, targeting traditional leaders, students, young women, and parents with information on preventing child trafficking and how to report suspected cases. Additionally, the secretariat conducted sessions on human trafficking at schools with the assistance of teachers and police officers and, through a new border campaign, placed posters at the various land borders and Mbabane airport to raise trafficking awareness. Swazi officials also presented messages on television and radio to raise awareness on human trafficking. The government’s anti-trafficking hotline continued to receive tips on potential cases; it received more than 100 calls and a total of seven potential trafficking tips during the reporting period.

The government concluded its establishment of a child labor unit within the Ministry of Labor and Social Security and specifically designated three investigators during the reporting period. The labor ministry conducted more than 3,000 labor inspections in 2014, which resulted in the identification of two alleged violations of child labor prohibitions, one in domestic service and the other in retail trade; however, these cases remained under investigation at the end of the reporting period. The government did not report any progress on the initiated prosecution of a labor broker who was alleged to recruit workers through fraud and charge excessive fees, or on the proposed amendments to the Employment Act to include regulation of labor brokers from the previous reporting period. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for sexual or forced labor. The government provided anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel.