Human trafficking a menace to human rights and development, says UN in Zambia
Published on 25 February 2011

Pablo Recalde, UN Resident Coordinator a.i and WFP Zambia Country Director, delivering addressing symposium on human trafficking. Photo: UN/Sirak Gebrehiwot

A national symposium entitled “Working Together – Strengthening Collaboration against Human Trafficking” was held in Lusaka in Febrary 2011. It was organized by the Ministry of Home Affairs in collaboration with Women in Law in Southern Africa and the UN Joint Programme against Human Trafficking.

The two-day symposium reviewed progress in implementing the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2008 and the national policy and plan of action to combat such trafficking. It concluded with the identification of key national priorities for 2011 and a roadmap for a coordinated approach to achieving them.
Opening the symposium, acting UN Resident Coordinator Pablo Recalde said that trafficking in persons is ultimately about exploitation and abuse.  It is about one human being taking advantage of another, preying on vulnerabilities and using deceit to enslave someone for gain.   He added that human trafficking is a menace that denies a person his or her human rights and opportunity for development - in short, it is a crime.

Human trafficking is a global phenomenon.  Every region is affected by it in some way and this part of Southern Africa is no exception. Zambia is affected as a source, transit route and to a lesser extent as a destination country. Trafficking has become a real risk for some of its most vulnerable citizens, women and young people.

"We are somewhat hampered in our approach by the lack of data on trafficking in persons in this region, and in Zambia in particular", said Recalde. "There is limited data on convictions, the routes of trafficking and the particular conditions that make certain people more vulnerable to trafficking than others.”

Acquring and having access to accurate trafficking data is a challenge in Zambia and the region as a whole. However, Recalde said that Zambia is showing leadership in addressing trafficking through a strong collaborative approach which is evident in its wide-ranging collaboration with Government, civil society and other partners. 

With the enactment of the 2008 Anti-Trafficking Act, Zambia has one of the strongest laws against human trafficking in Southern Africa.  Recalde commended Zambia for this legislation which supports the UN Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

“The establishment of the National Secretariat on Human Trafficking under the Ministry of Home Affairs, working in close partnership with other key ministries, and the plan of action, all show how committed Zambia is working to eradicate trafficking”, said Recalde.

The acting UN Resident Coordinator said that the United Nations was promoting collaboration between an array of international organisations and UN agencies.  By working collectively, Recalde said, the UN would able to support better the national plan to reach out to community-based groups and to provide technical support in the different areas of expertise that exist within the UN family.

Trafficking in persons is a multi-faceted crime.  Its victims are many and from varied backgrounds; the routes of trafficking are complex and often involve trans-national borders.  People are trafficked into many different sectors ranging from agriculture and fisheries to domestic work and sex work. 

Recalde said that to address such a varied and complex crime, Zambia needs a diverse and far-reaching response: 
•    Strong law enforcement capacity through collaboration with the criminal justice system 
•    The active engagement of employers, trade unions and employees themselves
•    The involvement of social welfare and protection services including trained social workers and counselors, shelters and long-term support for the reintegration of victims 
•    Public awareness and vigilance so that those most at risk know of the dangers and are able to take action to protect themselves, their families and communities

The UN Joint Programme on Human Trafficking brings together the expertise of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to address labour issues, through its programme on decent work whereby employer groups are developing guidelines on forced labour and human trafficking.  Once finalized, these guidelines will be used by employers to raise awareness on forced labour and human trafficking amongst their members and within their supply chains.

The International Office for Migration (IOM) with its global experience in migration management and trafficking has been supporting the training of law enforcement officials including immigration and police training officers to conduct counter-trafficking training for new recruits as well as for serving officers as they are the first line of response.

With its expertise in the rights of children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been working to enhance community understanding of human trafficking with particular focus on those who are most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse - children.  UNICEF through the UN Joint Programme is supporting the Government’s communication strategy. A notable feature of this was the Break the Chain campaign using radio, TV, mobile theatre and debate clubs late last year.  A similar campaign is planned this year to maintain the momentum of community dialogue and education.

While each agency brings its own knowledge and expertise to the programme, collectively the UN has been working to support strengthening the National Secretariat under the Ministry of Home Affairs, to improve communication on trafficking and to conduct research into trafficking in Zambia. 

Recalde said that the crusade would not have been possible without the support of co-operating partners, particularly the United States of America and the European Union.

The acting Resident Coordinator reiterated the UN’s continued commitment under the Joint Programme to redeem victims of trafficking and prevent those who are vulnerable. The UN Joint programme on Human Trafficking, established in 2008, brings together UNICEF, ILO and IOM. It is funded by the European Union and engages government and civil society organizations in the national response to human trafficking in Zambia.

The 2nd Annual National Symposium on Human Trafficking brought together more than 80 participants from all spheres in Zambia and beyond.

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