Mozambique is a source, transit, and, to a lesser extent, destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The use of forced child labor is common in agriculture, and in commercial activities in rural areas of the country, often with the complicity of family members. Women and girls from rural areas, lured to cities in Mozambique or South Africa with promises of employment or education, are exploited in domestic servitude and the sex trade. Underage Mozambican girls are exploited in prostitution in bars, roadside clubs, and restaurants in border towns and overnight stopping points along Mozambique’s southern transport corridor that links Maputo, Swaziland, and South Africa. Child prostitution—which is most prevalent in Maputo, Nampula, and Beira—is reportedly increasing in Maputo, Beira, Chimoio, and Nacala, which have highly mobile populations and large numbers of transport workers. Young Mozambican men and boys are subjected to forced labor on farms and in mines in South Africa, where they often labor for months without pay and under coercive conditions before being turned over to police for deportation as illegal migrants. Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland for work washing cars, herding livestock, and selling goods; some subsequently become victims of forced labor. Some Mozambican adults are subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution in Portugal. Some women and girls from Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and Malawi who voluntarily migrate to Mozambique are subsequently subjected to sex trafficking or domestic servitude. Mozambican or South African trafficking networks are typically informal; larger Chinese and Nigerian trafficking syndicates are reportedly also active in Mozambique. South Asian people smugglers who move undocumented South Asian migrants throughout Africa reportedly transport trafficking victims through Mozambique; recent reports indicate that South Asian citizens and companies in Mozambique pay the initial travel costs of illegal Bangladeshi and Pakistani migrants who they later maintain in bonded labor. During the year, a Mozambican woman and two girls were intercepted in Zambia en route to Europe to be subjected to forced prostitution, and five Mozambican victims of forced prostitution were discovered in South Africa.
The Government of Mozambique does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated an increase in anti-trafficking efforts in 2012, more than tripling the number of convictions. It continued its institutional training of officials at its police academy. The Attorney General’s office coordinated the government’s anti-trafficking efforts during the year by finalizing the first draft of a national action plan and establishing anti-trafficking coordinating bodies in four provinces. The Ministry of Justice collected anti-trafficking law enforcement data from provincial authorities. The government increased its efforts to cooperate with governments in the region through the signing of cooperation agreements that include anti-trafficking components with Tanzania and Swaziland, and by coordinating meetings and awareness campaigns with South African officials. Although it continued to provide in-kind support to NGOs assisting victims, and developed a referral mechanism for victims of all crimes, including trafficking, the government demonstrated weak provision of protective services to trafficking victims.
Recommendations for Mozambique: Take concrete steps to finalize and issue necessary regulations to implement the protection and prevention provisions of the 2008 anti-trafficking law; develop a formal system to identify proactively trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; build the capacity of the police anti-trafficking unit, the labor inspectorate, and the Women and Children’s Victim Assistance Units (GAMC) to investigate trafficking cases and provide short-term protection to victims; continue training for law enforcement officers in victim identification, particularly at border points; investigate reports of official complicity in human trafficking and vigorously prosecute, where appropriate, those implicated in trafficking offenses; and launch anti-trafficking awareness campaigns in additional provinces.
The government continued to make significant progress in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period, increasing the number of offenses prosecuted and offenders convicted. The Law on Preventing and Combating the Trafficking of People, enacted in 2008, prohibits recruiting or facilitating the exploitation of a person for purposes of prostitution, forced labor, slavery, or involuntary debt servitude. Article 10 prescribes penalties of 16 to 20 years’ imprisonment for these offenses, penalties which are sufficiently stringent and exceed those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.
The government continued compiling anti-trafficking law enforcement data, which it began in 2011; however, it did not provide details on specific cases. During the year, the government prosecuted 19 trafficking cases, leading to the conviction of 23 defendants and eight acquittals, a significant increase over 11 prosecutions and six convictions in 2011. In one case, the Manica Provincial Court sentenced two convicted offenders to 16 years’ imprisonment for unspecified trafficking offenses. All nine provinces and the city of Maputo reported conducting investigations during the year; 16 trafficking investigations continued from 2011, and 21 new investigations were opened, 18 of which remained ongoing at the close of the reporting period. Police investigative techniques, training, capacity, and forensic abilities continue to be weak, particularly outside of the capital.
The government, in partnership with UNICEF, continued offering a two-week anti-trafficking course at the police training center for all newly recruited police officers, border guards, customs and immigration agents, and rapid intervention (riot) police; taken by 3,500 recruits in 2012, the course covered recognition of trafficking cases, protection of victims, child rights, and child custody law. In addition, 54 judges were trained on trafficking at the Judicial Training Academy during the year. The government did not report investigations or prosecutions of public officials for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses, including officials bribed to allow traffickers and smugglers to move persons within the country and across national borders into South Africa and Swaziland. During the year, the government increased its cooperation with governments in the region by participating in a cross border meeting with officials from South Africa’s Mpumalanga provincial anti-trafficking task team to discuss the repatriation of children, including child trafficking victims, and signing a joint agreement with Swaziland on security issues, including trafficking in persons.
The Government of Mozambique made modest progress in its efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the year, in particular through its development of a referral mechanism for victims of crime, and continued in-kind support to NGOs providing victim care. In July 2012, the president signed into effect the Law on the Protection of Witnesses and Victims of All Crimes, including trafficking victims and those who cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases. Additionally, in March 2012, the Council of Ministers approved the Multi-Sectoral Mechanism on Integrated Care for Women Who are Victims of Violence, which outlines the role of each ministry in providing assistance to victims of violence, including trafficking victims; this would not cover male trafficking victims. However, the government did not formalize procedures for identifying potential victims of trafficking. The Attorney General’s office continued its drafting of regulations to implement the portions of the anti-trafficking law that address assistance to victims.
Government officials continued to rely on NGOs to provide shelter, counseling, food, and rehabilitation to victims, and to proffer only limited in-kind government support; it is unknown how many victims benefitted from such services during the year. An NGO managed the country’s only permanent shelter for child trafficking victims, with the Ministry for Women and Social Action (MMAS) funding the shelter staff’s salaries and the district of Moamba providing the land. MMAS staff at the shelter coordinated both the search for trafficking victims’ families and, if necessary, their placement with foster families; in advance of victims’ return or placement, MMAS staff counseled children and sensitized families, which were also able to receive government funding on a case-by-case basis. The Interior Ministry’s GAMC continued to operate facilities in more than 200 police stations and 20 “Victims of Violence” centers throughout the country that provided temporary shelter, food, limited counseling, and monitoring following reintegration for an unknown number of trafficking victims; GAMC staff also referred and transported victims to NGOs or foster families for longer-term assistance. In 2012, GAMC staff provided food, shelter, and psycho-social support to a potential child trafficking victim from Kenya who was intercepted at the Maputo airport with a suspected trafficker; Mozambican officials worked with Kenyan officials to repatriate the child. Similar services were provided to an unknown number of Mozambican children returned from South Africa during the year, some of whom may have been trafficking victims; however, the government offered very limited reintegration assistance to repatriated trafficking victims overall. The Institute for Judicial Support offered legal assistance to abused women and children, but did not provide such assistance to trafficking victims during the year. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders; however, this did not occur during the year. The government did not provide temporary residency status or legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they might face hardship or retribution and it continued to deport foreign trafficking victims without screening them for possible victimization. Although NGO contacts reported no instances of trafficking victims having been detained, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a result of having been trafficked, and the 2008 anti-trafficking act exempted victims from prosecution for such acts, the lack of formal identification procedures impaired the government’s ability to ensure that no trafficking victims received such penalties.
The government made increased efforts to prevent trafficking in persons during the reporting period through its establishment of provincial coordinating bodies, finalization of a national action plan, and organization of awareness-raising events in Mozambique and South Africa. The Attorney General’s office completed drafting a national action plan on trafficking in persons, which now awaits approval by the Council of Ministers. Although the government lacks a single national body to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts across ministries, the Attorney General’s office continued to demonstrate leadership in overseeing national anti-trafficking efforts. For example, in 2012, with the encouragement of the Attorney General’s office, provincial governments created inter-ministerial “reference groups” in Nampula, Gaza, and Manica consisting of provincial officials, police, border guards, social workers, NGOs, and faith based organizations; roll-out is planned for all provinces by 2014. The Maputo-based reference group, in existence since 2010, organized an awareness campaign in November 2012 in the border town of Ressano Garcia. The one-day campaign, funded in partnership with an NGO, involved the district attorney general; district chief administrator; and border, customs, and local police, reaching 200 community members with a march through the town and official speeches on trafficking risks within their community. As part of the event, trafficking awareness messages were broadcast on state-run radio. In December 2012, the Mozambican Consulate in Nelspruit, South Africa, worked with the Mpumalanga provincial task team to host a trafficking awareness meeting for members of the Mozambican community that provided instructions on how to report a suspected case of human trafficking. State-run Radio Mozambique and several district-run community radio stations ran anti-trafficking messages in January 2013. Although the Ministry of Labor acknowledged that child labor is pervasive and often abusive, it employed an inadequate number of labor inspectors, who lacked training and resources to adequately monitor for child trafficking and other labor violations, especially on farms in rural areas. The government did not make an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the year.