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2017-2021 ARCHIVED CONTENT

You are viewing ARCHIVED CONTENT released online from January 20, 2017 to January 20, 2021.

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ESWATINI: Tier 2 Watch List

The Government of Eswatini, previously known as Swaziland, does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated significant efforts during the reporting period by investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases; improving implementation of the victim identification guidelines and national referral mechanism; and cooperating with a foreign government in investigating several cases, repatriating victims, and building regional capacity. However, the government did not demonstrate increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. The government did not convict anyone on trafficking charges for the sixth consecutive year and labor brokers were unregulated, leading to increased vulnerability to trafficking. Deficiencies in the law continued to leave victims without legal protections, and draft legislation designed to address those gaps remained pending for a third consecutive year. Because the government has devoted sufficient resources to a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards, Eswatini was granted a waiver per the Trafficking Victims Protection Act from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3. Therefore Eswatini remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ESWATINI

Enact and implement the draft Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling Bill or otherwise provide greater legal protections for victims; vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes, including internal trafficking cases, and convict and adequately punish traffickers whose culpability has been established through the judicial process; implement the national anti-trafficking strategy and action plan; continue training officials on procedures for victim identification and referral guidelines; ensure all victims of trafficking are provided with appropriate and comprehensive care; continue training law enforcement officials and social workers to identify trafficking victims proactively among vulnerable populations; regulate labor brokers and investigate allegations of fraudulent recruitment; implement a unified system for collecting trafficking case data for use by all stakeholders; and conduct anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns.

PROSECUTION

The government maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2009 People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act prescribed penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment for the trafficking of adults and up to 25 years imprisonment for trafficking children, which were sufficiently stringent, and with regard to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. However, the government did not finalize or adopt implementing regulations for the law. The draft Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling bill, which would repeal the existing act and provide protections for victims, remained pending for a third consecutive year.

The government investigated 14 suspected trafficking cases—eight cases of forced labor, two sex trafficking cases, and three cases of an unknown type of exploitation—compared with 19 the previous year. The government initiated prosecutions of three alleged traffickers compared with one during the previous reporting period and did not convict anyone on trafficking charges for the sixth consecutive year. 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 partnered with an international NGO to deliver two training sessions. The first trained 35 government officials and front-line responders on how to apply a victim-centered approach and use the national referral mechanism to refer victims to protective services. The second session trained 17 law enforcement officers, 14 magistrates, and 10 judges on the effects of trauma on victim-witnesses, how to avoid re-traumatization, and a discussion of how to overcome common evidentiary challenges through a broader analysis of trafficking cases from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The government continued to provide anti-trafficking training at the police college for all in-service and pre-service officers and trained 598 new police recruits during the reporting period. The government provided technical assistance to the Government of Zimbabwe by facilitating the review and finalization of a new training manual on trafficking in the region. The government cooperated with the South African government in several investigations and participated in regular coordination meetings. In one case, the South African Police Service raided a Chinese-owned factory and identified an unknown number of Swazi labor trafficking victims.

PROTECTION

The government maintained efforts to identify victims and allocated more funding to provide protective services. The government identified and sheltered 14 potential victims in two NGO-operated shelters, a decrease from 19 the previous reporting period. The government provided victims with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, toiletries, counseling, and medical care in collaboration with NGOs. There were no government-run shelters specifically for trafficking victims and NGO-run shelters had limited ability to house trafficking victims among their general populations due to space constraints. The government increased its allocation to a victim assistance fund for protective services to 80,000 Swazi emalangeni ($6,500). An NGO raised concerns about the government’s provision of care for victims of trafficking, citing cases where victims were not allowed to communicate with their families or have freedom of movement.

The government improved its implementation of the victim identification guidelines and national referral mechanism, which were established in 2015. There were no reports the government detained, fined, or jailed victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. For the second consecutive year, the government did not finalize review of amendments to the immigration act that would provide victims and witnesses of trafficking immunity from prosecution and would formalize residency status for foreign victims, in conformity with the People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act. While the draft amendments remained under review, the government developed an ad hoc process among relevant ministries to permit identified victims to remain in Eswatini even if discovered to be present illegally. The government facilitated the repatriation of at least five victims during the reporting period; in one case, the anti-trafficking secretariat coordinated with South Africa and an international organization to safely repatriate one victim to Eswatini.

PREVENTION

The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking. The government updated its national action plan (NAP) through 2020. The task force for the Prevention of People Trafficking and People Smuggling was reestablished in January 2017 after a four-month lapse and met in February, April, and August 2017. In partnership with an NGO, the anti-trafficking secretariat conducted an analysis on capacity gaps in order to improve prosecution, protection, and prevention of trafficking. The task force secretariat conducted public awareness activities at the Eswatini 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 conducted sessions on human trafficking at schools with the assistance of teachers and police officers. Department of Immigration officials presented messages on television and radio to raise awareness of trafficking. 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 continued to participate in the SADC regional data collection tool by uploading trafficking cases, victim and trafficker profiles, and sharing information with countries in the region. The government’s anti-trafficking hotline continued to receive tips on potential cases; the government did not report how many tips it received or what action it took.

The Ministry of Labor did not have dedicated investigators focusing solely on child labor; however, all labor inspectors were required to investigate child labor issues in the course of their routine inspections. There were no labor inspections conducted solely to address child labor violations in 2017. Labor brokers were unregulated. 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.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, Eswatini is a source, transit, and, to a lesser extent, destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Swazi trafficking victims come primarily from poor communities with high HIV/AIDS prevalence rates. Swazi girls, particularly orphans, are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude, primarily in Eswatini and South Africa. Swazis are culturally expected to participate in the seasonal weeding and harvesting of the king’s fields, and there have been isolated reports that some local chiefs coerce participation in such cultural events. Swazi boys and foreign children are forced to labor in agriculture, including cattle herding, and market vending within the country. Mozambican boys migrate to Eswatini for work washing cars, herding livestock, and portering; some are subjected to forced labor. Traffickers use Eswatini as a transit country to transport foreign victims to South Africa for forced labor. Traffickers reportedly force Mozambican women into prostitution in Eswatini, or transport them through Eswatini to South Africa. Some Swazi women are forced into prostitution in South Africa 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.

U.S. Department of State

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