Swaziland is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children who are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, and forced labor in agriculture. Swazi girls, particularly orphans, are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude primarily in the cities of Mbabane and Manzini; at truck stops, bars, and brothels in Swaziland; and in South Africa and Mozambique. 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. In one case, which remains ongoing from the previous reporting period, a young Nigerian woman and two Mozambican boys were subjected to forced labor in market vending. Traffickers reportedly force Mozambican women into prostitution in Swaziland, or transit Swaziland with their victims 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 provided the equivalent of approximately $1,000 to a victim assistance fund and secured shelter for at least one trafficking victim; these victim protection measures represent progress from previous years, when adequate victim protection was a serious concern. The government continued its prosecution of two suspected trafficking offenders. Although it failed to identify or investigate cases involving internal trafficking, the government cooperated with South African law enforcement in the investigation of two potential trafficking cases and assisted in the repatriation of two Swazi nationals. The anti-trafficking taskforce and its secretariat continued to effectively guide anti-trafficking efforts in 2013—most evident in its launching of a national strategic framework and action plan in July 2013.
Recommendations for Swaziland:
Enact amendments to the 2010 anti-trafficking act to allow for permanent residency of foreign trafficking victims; complete and disseminate implementing regulations to fully implement the 2010 anti-trafficking act’s victim protection and prevention provisions; investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, including internal 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; differentiate the process of victim identification from the prosecution of offenders, as victim identification should not be tied to the successful prosecution of a trafficker; institutionalize training of officials 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; and institute a unified system for collecting trafficking case data for use by all stakeholders.
The Government of Swaziland maintained modest anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period, including by continuing its prosecution of two alleged labor trafficking offenders. Section 12 of the People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act, 2009, which became effective in March 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 the trafficking of children. These penalties 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. In response, the government, in partnership with UNODC, initiated a process to harmonize these laws in 2012; however, for the second consecutive year, the Attorney General’s Office failed to begin drafting these amendments.
The government investigated three potential trafficking cases and continued its prosecution of two labor trafficking offenders from previous years; however, it failed to either initiate any new prosecutions or convict trafficking offenders during the year. The government continued to focus on investigating trafficking crimes involving transnational movement, failing to investigate any cases involving Swazi victims trafficked internally. In September 2013, the government investigated a case involving two Swazi girls initially recruited for work in South Africa, but later sold into prostitution; at the close of the reporting period, Swazi police and prosecutors continued their efforts, in partnership with South African officials, to facilitate prosecution of the suspects in South Africa. In February 2013, the government charged two Nigerian nationals under the 2010 act for the alleged labor trafficking of a third Nigerian national who was recruited with promises of a college education, but after her arrival in Swaziland was made to sell goods under conditions indicative of forced labor—including denial of food, passport withholding, and physical assault; this case remained pending trial, with the suspects in custody at the end of the reporting period. The government failed to investigate or prosecute government officials allegedly complicit in trafficking or trafficking-related crimes, including an immigration official accused of issuing falsified official Swazi documents and a Swazi diplomat recalled from their posting for forced labor allegations in the previous reporting period.
In partnership with Mozambican and South Africa authorities, the government established a committee to collaboratively work on cross-border issues, including human trafficking. During the reporting period, the Royal Swaziland Police Service cooperated with South African counterparts in the investigation of transnational trafficking cases. The government failed to independently train its officials during the year. In partnership with UNODC, the government trained 60 police, immigration, defense force, justice, and customs officials on investigation of trafficking cases and differentiating between smuggling and trafficking.
The government increased efforts to protect trafficking victims during the reporting period, including by providing one victim secure accommodation and allocating resources to a victim assistance fund. The government sheltered one victim—identified during the previous reporting period—in a secure witness protection facility until her repatriation in July 2013. Previously, the government failed to shelter victims in secure facilities. The police provided protection to two potential victims during the reporting period. The government directly provided medical care, coverage of incidental expenses, and police protection to all three women identified as victims or potential victims during the year; however, NGOs provided counseling services. The government allocated the equivalent of approximately $1,000 to a fund to pay for these services. The government cooperated with Nigerian authorities to enable one victim’s repatriation to Nigeria in July 2013 and paid for the repatriation of two Swazi victims from South Africa in 2013.
Although the government, in partnership with UNODC, continued its development of a national victim referral mechanism and standard operating procedures for the handling of trafficking cases, it continued to lack systematic procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims and their referral to care. There were no reports that victims were detained, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; however, as the government did not make systematic efforts to identify victims, and was without a mechanism for screening individuals in prostitution, victims may have remained unidentified in the law enforcement system. In a change from 2012 policies preventing temporary legal residency for trafficking victims, in 2013, the government issued temporary residency for a foreign victim illegally present in Swaziland as a result of her trafficking. The government encouraged victims to cooperate with law enforcement during the year, and one victim did so.
The government increased modest efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period through the completion of a national strategic framework and action plan. 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. Nonetheless, most prevention efforts were funded by NGOs and international donors. In July 2013, the government adopted a national strategic framework and action plan, a multi-year strategy which outlines the responsibilities of all relevant ministries. The Secretariat conducted public awareness activities at the Swaziland international trade fair in Manzini in late 2013, targeting traditional leaders, students, young women, and parents with information on preventing child trafficking and how to report suspected cases. The government also raised awareness of human trafficking by developing and placing billboards at the airport and land border crossings. In March 2013, the Secretariat began holding radio programs to raise awareness on the dangers of trafficking and smuggling. The government’s anti-trafficking hotline continued to receive tips on potential cases; however, officials were unable to provide data on the number of trafficking-related calls received during the year. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation trained diplomats on the definition of trafficking, especially in relation to the employment of domestic workers, and the related laws in countries to which their officials are posted.
The government increased the number of labor inspectors from 16 to 30 in 2013, including three designated to address child labor inspections. The Ministry of Labor conducted over 3,000 labor inspections in 2013, although these did not result in the identification of child labor violations and focused on the formal sector, with child labor thought to occur most in the informal sectors. Although labor brokers remained unregulated in 2013, the government proposed amendments to the Employment Act to include regulation of labor brokers. The government initiated prosecution of a labor broker who was alleged to recruit workers through fraud and charge excessive fees. It made no efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.