The government demonstrated mixed protection efforts. The government identified 52 victims for assistance, compared with 10 victims identified by officials, international organizations and NGOs in the previous reporting period. The government referred all 52 victims to international organizations for reintegration support, including 29 females and three males, 28 of whom had been exploited in forced labor, three in sex trafficking, and 21 in unreported types of trafficking. Traffickers exploited the forced labor victims primarily in Kuwait, but also in China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Botswana. An international organization reported that in addition to these 32 victims, the government referred one Zimbabwean victim to an NGO shelter that operated 11 shelters for women in eight of 10 provinces throughout the country, two children to a children’s home for protective services, including counseling and medical care, and two cases to the government-run shelter in Harare. Another international NGO reported the government referred an additional 15 victims to its shelter in Rutenga. This NGO also reported identifying 522 potential victims through its work monitoring transit points, including bus stations, rail depots, and border areas. South African law enforcement officers reported identifying 30 Zimbabwean women in brothels in Mpumalanga province as potential sex trafficking victims. NGO shelters provided shelter for both male and female victims of gender-based violence, trafficking, and domestic violence. The NGOs that provided protective services did not receive funding from the government for at least the second consecutive year and struggled to operate without such support. While the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Act required the government to establish centers in each of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces to provide counseling, rehabilitation, and reintegration services, these centers have not been established. In partnership with an international organization, the government facilitated the repatriation of three trafficking victims from Nigeria and South Africa. The Government of Botswana facilitated the repatriation of one Zimbabwean victim exploited in Botswana.
The government, in partnership with an international organization and other stakeholders, adopted and launched a National Referral Mechanism (NRM), which outlined standard operating procedures in the identification, referral, and assistance of trafficking victims. The Anti-Trafficking Inter-Ministerial Committee (ATIMC) drafted and adopted implementing regulations, which gave legal force to key procedures set out in the NRM, empowered provincial operational task teams, and defined clear roles and responsibilities for front-line responders. During the reporting period, the technical steering committee on the protections of victims of trafficking, led by the Ministry of Public Service, Labor, and Social Welfare (MPSLSW), did not meet. The MPSLSW had a system whereby each potential trafficking case reported was handled jointly by an NGO and a Department of Social Welfare caseworker. The government encouraged victims to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. The government implemented a comprehensive system for victim-witnesses, which included police units, courts, health services, and a referral system that were more victim-centered. Courts had a separate room for victims to testify separately from their alleged perpetrators, and victims could choose to testify via video; however, observers reported not every court had access to the necessary equipment, especially in rural areas, and the government did not report whether any victims utilized these services during the reporting period. The government trained prosecutors, probation officers, and magistrates to treat victims sensitively, handle cases quickly, and refer victims to post-trial support services. In addition, the government trained health service providers to collect evidence for criminal investigations, prepare medical affidavits, and offer immediate and long-term psycho-social support and health care. The government did not have legal alternatives to removal to countries in which victims would face retribution or hardship; however, the government did not identify any foreign victims during the reporting period.