The government increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2009 Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA) criminalized labor and sex trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to 50 years imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 1 million Namibian dollars ($81,200). These penalties were not sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In March 2018, the president signed the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act which explicitly criminalizes human trafficking and provides protection measures for victims of trafficking; however, it was not included in the official gazette, which is a requirement for the law to be fully operational.
During the reporting period, the government investigated seven trafficking cases involving 10 suspects, compared to eight cases in 2016; of these, two involved alleged sex trafficking and five alleged forced labor. The government initiated prosecution in four cases involving five defendants, an increase from two cases prosecuted during the previous year. All defendants were charged under the POCA of 2004 and two of five defendants were also charged with knowingly soliciting a victim of sex trafficking under the Combatting of Immoral Practices Act of 1980. One of the two defendants solicited sex from a trafficking victim in 2015 and absconded to South Africa shortly after being charged; the government proactively requested and then secured his extradition to Namibia in December 2017. The government did not convict any traffickers for the second consecutive year; one defendant was prosecuted and acquitted under the POCA.
The government trained more than 1,000 front-line responders, including immigration, customs, and labor officials, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, social workers, church leaders, and journalists. In partnership with an international organization, the government conducted two train-the-trainer events on victim-centered investigations and prosecutions covering seven of Namibia’s 14 regions. The government continued implementing its training curriculum for new immigration officers and in-service personnel. The government provided advanced training on investigation methods to police in the High Profile Crime Division, those responsible for investigating all potential trafficking crimes, and prosecutors likely to encounter trafficking victims. The government provided anti-trafficking training to an unknown number of law enforcement officers in three police colleges during the reporting period. The High Profile Crime Unit trained student social workers at the University of Namibia on victim identification. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.