Swaziland is a source, destination, and transit country for women and children who are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, and forced labor in agriculture. Swazi girls, particularly orphans, are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude in the cities of Mbabane and Manzini, as well as in South Africa, Mozambique, and the United States. Swazi chiefs may coerce children and adults—through threats and intimidation—to work for the king. Swazi boys and foreign children are forced to labor in commercial agriculture and market vending within the country. During the year, a young Nigerian woman and two Mozambican boys were discovered in forced labor in market vending. 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 also recruited for forced labor in South Africa’s timber industry. Some Swazi women are forced into prostitution in South Africa and Mozambique after voluntarily migrating in search of work. Traffickers reportedly force Mozambican women into prostitution in Swaziland, or transit Swaziland with their victims en route to South Africa. Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland for work washing cars, herding livestock, and portering; some of these boys subsequently become victims of forced labor. Traffickers appear to utilize Swaziland as a transit country for transporting foreign victims from beyond the region to South Africa for forced labor; in 2011, Swazi authorities intercepted several transiting Indian nationals and, in 2012, a few cases of Ugandan and Chinese nationals.
The Government of Swaziland does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the year, the government initiated prosecution of two suspected trafficking offenders and recalled a Swazi diplomat from an overseas posting for alleged trafficking complicity. Police and immigration officials intercepted nine potential foreign victims in 2012, though they failed to identify or investigate cases involving Swazi victims. Moreover, the government failed to train any of its officials, including law enforcement personnel, on existing legislation and indicators for victim identification, which stymied investigations and prosecutions. During the previous reporting period, the government failed to provide adequate shelter and support for victims following their identification, which led to the deportation of six victims in 2011; this deficiency was again highlighted in 2012, when additional victims were not provided sufficient shelter and services—increasing their vulnerability to revictimization. While the anti-trafficking taskforce and its secretariat continued to guide anti-trafficking efforts, a lack of funds hindered progress on all fronts, especially with regard to the provision of adequate protection to victims.
Recommendations for Swaziland: Complete the review and drafting of amendments to the 2010 anti-trafficking act to allow for permanent residency of foreign trafficking victims; complete and disseminate implementing regulations to allow for full implementation of the 2010 anti-trafficking act’s victim protection and prevention provisions; ensure the activities of the taskforce, secretariat, and implementing departments are sufficiently funded, particularly to enable the provision of adequate accommodation and care to victims; differentiate the process of victim identification from the prosecution of offenders, as victim identification should not be tied to the successful prosecution of a trafficker; investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, including internal trafficking cases, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; begin regulating labor brokers and investigate allegations of fraudulent recruitment; prioritize the training of officials on the 2010 anti-trafficking act and case investigation techniques; develop and implement formal procedures to identify trafficking victims proactively and train officials on such procedures; continue partnering with non-governmental, international, and religious organizations to provide services to victims; develop a formal system to refer victims to care; institute a unified system for collecting trafficking case data for use by all stakeholders; and continue to conduct anti-trafficking awareness campaigns.
The Government of Swaziland maintained its modest anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. It began prosecution of two alleged labor trafficking offenders, investigated several potential trafficking cases—some in cooperation with other governments—and recalled a diplomat from an overseas posting for trafficking-related complicity. However, the government failed to convict any trafficking offender or train any of its officials. The People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act, 2009, which became effective in March 2010, prescribes penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment, plus a fine to compensate the victim for losses, under section 12 for the trafficking of adults and up to 25 years’ imprisonment under section 13 for the trafficking of children; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government has not drafted or enacted the necessary implementing regulations for the law or used it to successfully convict a trafficking offender. After a 2011 case revealed inconsistencies between the anti-trafficking act and the Immigration Act of 1992, the government initiated a process to harmonize these laws; in February 2013, the government held a workshop, in partnership with UNODC, to begin this process, but has not yet began drafting these amendments.
In February 2013, the government charged two Nigerian nationals under the 2010 act for the alleged labor trafficking of a third Nigerian national who was recruited with promises of a college education, but was made to sell goods after her arrival in Swaziland under conditions indicative of forced labor, including denial of food, passport withholding, and physical assault; the two offenders have been released on bail pending trial. In November 2012, the Siteki Magistrate Court acquitted one suspected trafficking offender accused of trafficking two Mozambican boys into forced labor in market vending. The government intercepted nine potential foreign trafficking victims in transit during the year. In one case, two Chinese nationals were discovered traveling with two Swazi nationals at Lomahasha Border Post; one of the alleged offenders was reportedly an official with the Swaziland Revenue Authority. Officials withdrew charges against the suspects after the victims fled the country. The government recalled a Swazi diplomat from an overseas posting, following allegations of confinement, underpayment of wages, and long working hours by the diplomat’s former domestic worker. However, the government failed to investigate or prosecute officials allegedly complicit in trafficking or trafficking-related crimes, including citizenship and immigration staff accused of issuing falsified official Swazi documents. During the reporting period, the Royal Swaziland Police Service cooperated with South African, Ugandan, and Mozambican counterparts in the investigation of transnational trafficking cases and in victim repatriations. Despite its efforts to investigate potential trafficking cases involving foreign victims, the government—specifically police and immigration officers—failed to investigate any cases involving Swazi victims trafficked internally or abroad. The Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse, and Child Protection (DCS) unit of the Swazi police—with primary responsibility for trafficking cases—and the senior attorney who handles trafficking cases at the Directorate for Public Prosecutions (DPP) collaborated routinely; however, both DCS and DPP staff were severely under-resourced and in need of training during the year. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to these or any of its officials during the year.
For a second consecutive year, the government did not increase its protection efforts as it failed to ensure adequate assistance to and secure accommodation for trafficking victims. For example, in November 2012, following the rescue of two potential trafficking victims and their placement in a training and conference center for temporary stay, a government-contracted security guard raped both women at knifepoint while on duty; authorities arrested the suspected rapist, who remains in jail awaiting trial. In addition, some cases of trafficking were not adequately investigated, leading to victims being charged with immigration violations and placed in detention facilities. For example, in June 2012, five Ugandans were denied entry at the South African border because they lacked entry visas, and spent five months in a detention facility awaiting repatriation despite the government’s identification of them as trafficking victims. Although during the year the government began development of a national victim referral mechanism and standard operating procedures for the handling of trafficking cases in partnership with UNODC, it continued to lack systematic procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims and their referral to care. Government authorities identified nine potential trafficking victims transiting the country and three victims exploited in Swaziland. The government provided assistance to victims both directly—with food, clothing, health care, and counseling—and in partnership with NGOs, in particular for psycho-social care. In 2012, the government set up a revolving fund for “immediate” assistance needs, which was used to purchase food and clothing for victims. During the year, the government assisted repatriated Swazi victims in safe reintegration back to their home communities, including 12 repatriated from South Africa during the year. The government did not offer foreign victims alternatives to their removal to countries where they may face retribution or hardship. Although the government did not issue them temporary residency permits during their stay, upon their departure from Swazi territory, the victims had their stay documented as “legal” in their passports by the government, a compromise that involved negotiation among several government stakeholders because of the conflict between Swaziland’s trafficking and immigration laws.
The government maintained its modest efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. Although the Task Force for the Prevention of People Trafficking and People Smuggling and its Secretariat, which coordinates the work of the taskforce, held regular meetings and continued to be instrumental in guiding the government’s anti-trafficking response, most prevention efforts were funded by NGOs and international donors. In January 2013, in partnership with UNODC, the Secretariat held a second stakeholder workshop, which included a review of the draft national strategic framework and action plan it prepared in 2012. The Secretariat conducted public awareness activities at the Swaziland international trade fair in Manzini in late 2012, targeting traditional leaders, students, young women, and parents with information on preventing child trafficking and how to report suspected cases. As part of donor-funded community awareness campaigns, the Secretariat and members of the taskforce, including representatives from DPP, police, and immigration, explained trafficking and the role of local and national authorities in combating the crime; these workshops took place in 10 communities over the past two years, reaching an estimated 3,000 Swazis. As part of this project, the government developed and printed awareness raising materials, which were distributed at events around the country in 2012. The anti-trafficking hotline—funded and managed by the government—continued to receive tips on potential cases; the hotline received thousands of calls, of which three led to the government’s initiation of investigations during the year. The government did not identify or prosecute labor brokers who were alleged to recruit workers through fraud and charge excessive fees; labor brokers remained unregulated. It made no efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol in September 2012.