An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.
2017-2021 ARCHIVED CONTENT

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

Content in this archive site is NOT UPDATED, and links may not function.

For current information, go to www.state.gov.

NAMIBIA: Tier 1

The Government of Namibia fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government made key achievements to do so during the reporting period; therefore Namibia was upgraded to Tier 1. These achievements included finalizing implementing regulations for the Trafficking in Persons Act of 2018, significantly increasing the number of prosecutions, convicting and sentencing one trafficker, and training front-line responders. The government identified more victims, referred to care a higher percentage of identified victims, and partially funded two NGO shelters that provided protective services for victims. More victims voluntarily participated with law enforcement investigations, and the government provided victim witnesses with protective services. The national anti-trafficking coordination body met quarterly; the government launched a nationwide awareness campaign in collaboration with an international organization, increased training of front-line responders to prevent trafficking, and continued to utilize the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional data collection tool to gather and organize clear trafficking data. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not adequately train frontline officials on the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and observers reported some frontline responders did not fully understand their roles with regard to the provision of services to trafficking victims. Occasional breakdowns in communication between government officials and civil society and within government ministries led to a lack of coordination among members of the National Coordinating Body (NCB). Although there were officials who underwent Training of Trainers curricula, it was not always clear how they could be mobilized to share their knowledge and build capacity.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS:

Train officials on the Trafficking in Persons Act of 2018.Train officials on implementation of the NRM and SOPs.Strengthen coordination among government ministries to ensure roles and responsibilities are clear and anti-trafficking policies are increasingly effective.Improve communication between government ministries and civil society.Continue to ensure all identified victims are referred to protective and rehabilitative services.Increase funding to civil society partners that provide accommodation and care to trafficking victims to ensure they have adequate resources.Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers.Increase efforts to raise public awareness, especially in rural areas.

PROSECUTION

The government increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2018, which came into effect in November 2019, criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking, and prescribed penalties of up to 30 years’ imprisonment, a fine not exceeding one million Namibian dollars ($71,140), or both. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as kidnapping. It reported investigating nine new labor trafficking cases and arresting 31 individuals, 20 for alleged labor trafficking and 11 for sex trafficking, and 29 ongoing investigations, nine for sex trafficking and 20 for labor trafficking, compared to investigating the same number of new cases (nine) in 2018. Of the nine new labor trafficking investigations, the government initiated 15 prosecutions (seven labor trafficking cases and eight sex trafficking cases), an increase from seven cases prosecuted in 2018. The government reported four prosecutions were ongoing from the previous reporting period. The government convicted one defendant of sex trafficking and sentenced her to 28 years’ imprisonment, compared to two convictions during the previous reporting period. The trial of a South African national extradited to Namibia in December 2017 was ongoing in the Windhoek High Court at the close of the reporting period. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.

In collaboration with an international organization, the government conducted multidisciplinary training for 35 criminal justice practitioners on identifying potential victims and referring them to protective services and legal support, as well as on prevention efforts and raising awareness of the crime. A lead law enforcement officer within the Namibian Police Force responsible for handling human trafficking cases trained participants at the South African Police Service Academy, and the Ministry of Justice, Safety, Security and Home Affairs trained 166 immigration officials on identifying and assisting trafficking victims. Police officers and prosecutors used anti-trafficking manuals that provided guidelines for victim identification. The Namibian Police Force collaborated with the Namibian Consulate in Turkey to investigate a potential labor trafficking case. The government entered into bilateral law enforcement cooperation agreements with Zimbabwe and Angola.

PROTECTION

The government increased efforts to protect trafficking victims by identifying and referring more victims to care. The government identified 30 trafficking victims, including 11 girls, nine boys, four men, two women, and four victims of unknown age or gender, compared with 21 victims in 2018. The government referred all 30 victims to NGO shelters, two of which were partially government-funded, compared to referring 14 of 21 identified victims in 2018. Traffickers had exploited the victims from Namibia, Angola, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in sex and labor trafficking, including domestic servitude and agricultural work on private farms. The Cabinet approved and the government began implementation of SOPs for victim identification and an NRM for provision of services to victims during the previous reporting period. However, observers reported some government and civil society frontline responders still did not fully understand their roles with regard to the provision of services to trafficking victims. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration continued to provide immigration officials a printed manual to guide identification of trafficking victims. Separate from the SOPs and NRM, the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) and immigration officials used their own referral procedures. In practice, labor inspectors and immigration officials contacted NamPol when they identified an instance of potential trafficking; NamPol referred victims of all crimes to temporary shelter and medical assistance.

The government partnered with a local NGO to provide protective services to Namibian and foreign victims of trafficking; the NGO provided safe accommodation and the government provided psycho-social support, legal assistance, medical care, and ensured victims had proper documentation. Child victims were provided with access to education. The Gender-based Violence Protection Unit’s facilities offered initial psycho-social, legal, and medical support to crime victims, in cooperation with the police, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW), the Ministry of Health, and NGOs. Adult victims had the ability to seek employment and work while receiving assistance, though it is unknown how many victims did so during the reporting period. The NGO shelter that received victims during the reporting period was equipped to receive families, teen boys, and men; the government provided 26,000 Namibian dollars ($1,850) per month to the NGO. The government also provided 13,000 Namibian dollars ($920) to an NGO shelter in the northeastern part of the country. Thirty victims voluntarily assisted law enforcement during the reporting period, compared with 14 during the previous reporting period. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration issued special immigration passes on an ad hoc basis that allowed foreign victims to remain in the country for the duration of the investigation and legal proceedings and provided witness protection.

PREVENTION

The government increased prevention efforts. The NCB met four times during the reporting period to review cases and progress made with regard to national efforts and activities to combat trafficking. In partnership with an international organization, the government launched a nationwide awareness campaign, which included posters, billboards, a campaign song by a local artist, television and radio ads, pens, pencil cases and wristbands. The government conducted two workshops to train 1,057 frontline responders from throughout the country, including investigators, police officers, prosecutors, social work students, church leaders and the media on trafficking prevention, victim identification, and referral procedures. MGECW conducted media training on trafficking for 18 journalists and hosted the fourth annual commemoration of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in all 14 regions of the country. The Namibian Police High Profile Crime Investigation Sub-Division gave a presentation on trafficking to 45 third-year social work students at the University of Namibia. The government continued to participate in the SADC regional data collection tool by uploading information about trafficking cases and victim and trafficker profiles, as well as sharing information with countries in the region. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare employed an unknown number of labor and occupational health and safety inspectors, who were responsible for enforcing laws against child labor. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Namibia, and traffickers exploit victims from Namibia abroad. Some victims are initially offered legitimate work for adequate wages, but then traffickers subject them to forced labor in urban centers and on commercial farms. Traffickers subject Namibian children to forced labor in agriculture, cattle herding, and domestic service, and to sex trafficking in Windhoek and Walvis Bay. Namibians commonly house and care for children of distant relatives to provide expanded educational opportunities; however, in some instances, traffickers exploit these children in forced labor. Among Namibia’s ethnic groups, San and Zemba children are particularly vulnerable to forced labor on farms or in homes. Traffickers may subject children from less affluent neighboring countries to sex trafficking and forced labor, including in street vending in Windhoek and other cities as well as in the fishing sector. Traffickers may bring Angolan children to Namibia for forced labor in cattle herding, agricultural work, and domestic servitude. Traffickers allegedly operate at the international airport.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future