Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

SWAZILAND: Tier 2 Watch List

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. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has contributed immensely to the increasing number of orphans and other vulnerable children at risk of exploitation through trafficking. Swazi chiefs 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. Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland for work washing cars, herding livestock, and portering; some of these boys become victims of forced labor. Traffickers use Swaziland as a transit country to transport foreign victims to South Africa for forced labor. Traffickers reportedly force Mozambican women into prostitution in Swaziland, or transit Swaziland en route to South Africa. Some Swazi women are forced into prostitution in South Africa and Mozambique after voluntarily migrating in search of work. 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. Reports indicate a recent downturn in the textile industry has led textile workers to follow promises of employment in neighboring countries, potentially increasing their vulnerability to trafficking.

The Government of Swaziland does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In collaboration with the Southern African Development Community and an international organization, the government launched victim identification guidelines, completed in the previous reporting period, and a national referral mechanism, finalized in 2015. The government piloted a data collection and reporting system developed by an international organization to guide victim assistance and investigations. Despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Swaziland is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. During the year, the government investigated two suspected trafficking cases, in comparison to nine the previous year, and did not prosecute or convict any suspected traffickers during the reporting period. The government has not yet convicted a trafficker under its anti-trafficking act, in effect since 2010. The government continued to assist victims with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, toiletries, counseling, and medical care in collaboration with NGOs. Nonetheless, the limited availability of space in NGO-run shelters remained a significant concern, and the government neglected victims of internal trafficking as it predominantly focused on cross-border trafficking. The anti-trafficking taskforce and its secretariat continued to guide national anti-trafficking efforts and maintained awareness-raising efforts; however, inadequate financial and in-kind support for their work stymied the effectiveness of national anti-trafficking efforts.


Enact and implement the draft Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling Bill; implement the anti-trafficking law through vigorous investigations and prosecutions of trafficking crimes, including internal trafficking cases, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; ensure the activities of the taskforce, secretariat, and implementing departments are sufficiently funded, particularly to enable adequate accommodation and care to victims; train officials on procedures for victim identification and referral guidelines; train law enforcement officials and social workers to identify trafficking victims proactively among vulnerable populations; begin regulating labor brokers and investigate allegations of fraudulent recruitment; implement a unified system for collecting trafficking case data for use by all stakeholders; develop and implement an updated multi-year national anti-trafficking strategy and action plan; and conduct anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns, particularly in rural areas.


The government made decreased 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 trafficker. 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 attorney general’s office and the secretariat, in partnership with an international organization, drafted the Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling Bill intended to repeal the existing People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act; however, this legislation still awaited passage and enactment at the end of the reporting period.

The government investigated two suspected trafficking cases—one case each of forced labor and sex trafficking—in comparison to nine the previous year. The government did not prosecute or convict any suspected traffickers during the reporting period. Officials continued to confuse crimes involving transnational movement with trafficking offenses. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses. The government uploaded 20 total victim profiles from previous years to the data collection and reporting system developed by an international organization to gather case data to guide victim assistance and investigations. In February 2015, the government participated in a regional workshop hosted by an international organization to orient key stakeholders on the regional data collection system.

During the reporting period, the secretariat continued hosting training for the police and labor inspectorate, including victim identification and protection procedures, as well as training to improve communication and cooperation between officials. 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. The government continued its collaboration with Mozambican and South African authorities on cross-border issues, including human trafficking, now guided by the work of a formal coordinating committee.


The government made minimal efforts to protect trafficking victims. The government identified and sheltered two victims—one forced labor victim from Lesotho and one sex trafficking victim from Mozambique—during the reporting period in a secure, government-owned witness protection facility. The government provided victims with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, toiletries, counseling, and medical care in collaboration with NGOs. There are no government-run shelters specifically for trafficking victims and NGO-run shelters had limited ability to house trafficking victims among their general populations. The government maintained its allocation of 10,000 Swazi Lilangeni ($645) to a victim assistance fund for these services.

In November 2015, the government launched its victim identification guidelines and national referral mechanism developed in partnership with an international organization; however, it did not yet train officials on or begin implementation of these mechanisms by the end of the reporting period. A day after the launch authorities rescued a trafficking victim. The government referred the victim to care and provided support. There were no reports the government detained, fined, or jailed victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. The government continued reviewing amendments to the immigration act to provide immunity from prosecution to victims and witnesses of trafficking, to conform 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. While under review, the government developed an ad hoc process among relevant ministries to permit victims to remain in Swaziland even if discovered to be present illegally.


The government demonstrated modest efforts to prevent trafficking through awareness campaigns; however, limited public awareness in rural areas remained a concern. The government began development of an updated national action plan. The TaskForce 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. In 2015, for the first time, the government commemorated the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. 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. The secretariat also conducted sessions on human trafficking at schools with the assistance of teachers and police officers. The secretariat continued its border campaign, placing posters at various land borders and the airport to raise awareness on trafficking. Swazi officials also presented messages targeting young women on television and radio. The government’s anti-trafficking hotline continued to receive tips on potential cases; it received only one potential trafficking tip, in comparison to seven the previous reporting period.

The Ministry of Labor had three investigators dedicated to its child labor unit; however, there were no labor inspections conducted solely to address child labor violations in 2015. Two alleged violations of child labor prohibitions that were previously identified, one in domestic service and the other in retail, remained unresolved at the end of the reporting period. Officials from the Ministry of Labor educated employers and employees on forced labor and trafficking legislation. Labor brokers are wholly unregulated in Swaziland and some are thought to operate in an unethical manner. In 2015 the secretariat and Ministry of Labor established a committee to analyze vulnerabilities within the recruitment of Swazis seeking employment abroad. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex or forced labor. The government provided anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.