- Southern African policy makers and senior government officials today begin a three-day meeting in Durban to address the urgent need to set up adequate protection mechanisms for
victims of human trafficking in the region.
The meeting, which forms part of the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA), is hosted by International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Southern African Migration Project (SAMP). It is the first regional effort to specifically address the unique needs of victims of trafficking and identify programmes, policies and legal frameworks to be put in place to ensure their protection.
"Because of the clandestine nature of human trafficking and because many countries in the region have not yet put in place comprehensive counter trafficking programmes and legislations, many victims continue to fall through the cracks, with little or no attention paid to their protection needs and overall wellbeing," says Hans Petter Boe, Regional Representative for IOM in Southern Africa.
"This meeting aims to raise awareness among key government officials and identify concrete recommendations to be adopted at a regional level to ensure the better protection of victims of trafficking."
Earlier this month, Mozambique became the first and only country to pass anti-trafficking legislation in a region that is experiencing both strong internal and cross-border trafficking.
In the absence of adequate national and regional mechanisms to address the specific needs of human trafficking victims in southern Africa, most victims often find themselves enslaved through several ways, including the confiscation of their documents, held against their will and violent abuse.
Because of their irregular status, they are usually afraid to seek help from law enforcement officials, who treat them as irregular migrants rather than victims of trafficking. The clandestine and often syndicated criminal nature of human trafficking also poses a threat to victims' lives, even after they have been rescued, the IOM says.
Through its Southern African Counter-Trafficking Assistance Programme (SACTAP), IOM has over the past four years provided comprehensive assistance to 238 victims of human trafficking in Southern Africa.
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