South Africa is the latest country, among 15 other countries, to have joined the European Union (EU) and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, under the “Global Action to prevent and address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants” (GLO.ACT).
Addressing the media and representatives of the EU, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said the UNODC was well-placed to assist counties in combating Trafficking in Persons and the smuggling of migrants.
“Through its work with member states all over the world, it is able to co-develop international best practices and partner with countries to implement these.
“Therefore we welcome South Africa’s inclusion in the GLO.ACT programme, as a priority country,” Gigaba said.
He added it was important to work with both South Africa’s immediate and regional neighbours to strengthen our collective capacity to combat human trafficking and people smuggling.
“We are aware that only 15 countries around the world are being included as part of the GLO.ACT programme.”
He added South Africa was in the process of developing legislation on the Smuggling of Migrants. “Offences of smuggling of migrants are currently prosecuted under the Immigration Act and the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA), which to a great extent cover criminal acts outlined by the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol and the Organised Crime Convention.
“Research has been undertaken to identify best international practice and adapt this to the situation in South Africa, which has a constitution founded on the principle of self-determination and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Recently the South African Police rescued 57 children and young adults who were smuggled in from Malawi to South Africa.
The children were paid between R2 000 and R2 500 to come to South Africa.
Gigaba said the majority of detected cases revealed that people were smuggled and trafficked into south Africa for sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced marriages and others used as drug mules.
This highlights the need for regional cooperation.
Interim measures include improved training for immigration and law enforcement officers based on these principles, that is, improving security and service delivery at ports of entry and improving the rate and quality of the adjudication on cases of asylum seekers.
Strengthening efforts to combat human trafficking and people smuggling:
- There are clearly a number of steps we can take to prevent, prosecute and eventually eradicate human trafficking:
- We need better data and research to better understand the scale of the problem and local/regional dynamics;
- We must orient, train and capacitate law enforcement agencies and personnel to respond more effectively to human trafficking;
- We must increase intelligence sharing and the coordination of efforts among relevant agencies;
- We must partner with NGOs and civil society groups to identify incidents of trafficking and smuggling, assist victims and raise societal awareness; and
- We must strengthen international partnerships with other countries in the region and beyond.