Zambia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Most trafficking occurs within the country’s borders and involves women and children from rural areas exploited in cities in domestic servitude or other types of forced labor in the agriculture, textile, mining, and construction sectors, as well as in small businesses such as bakeries. Zambian children may be forced by jerabo gangs, who work in the illegal mining sector, to load stolen copper ore onto trucks in the Copperbelt Province. Children are also recruited and transported from villages, brought to cities, and made to serve as guides for groups of blind beggars. While orphans and street children are the most vulnerable, children of affluent village families are also vulnerable to trafficking because sending children to the city for work is perceived to confer status. Zambian boys and girls are recruited into prostitution by women formerly engaged in prostitution and subsequently exploited by truck drivers in towns along the Zimbabwean and Tanzanian borders and by miners in the growing mining town of Solwezi. Zambian boys are taken to Zimbabwe for prostitution and women and girls are exploited in forced prostitution in South Africa.
Zambia is a transit and destination country for victims of many nationalities. Women and children from Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique are forced into labor or prostitution after arriving in Zambia. Chinese, Indian, and Lebanese nationals are exploited in forced labor in textile factories and bakeries. Chinese and Indian men are recruited to work in Chinese-owned mines in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province, where they are reportedly kept in conditions of forced labor by mining companies. Chinese traffickers brought in a growing number of Chinese women and underage girls for sexual exploitation in brothels and massage parlors in Lusaka that cater to local Chinese clientele; traffickers used front companies that posed as travel agencies to lure Chinese victims and coordinated this exploitation with Zambian facilitators and middle men. The transnational labor trafficking of Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis through Zambia for use in construction in South Africa continued and was linked to criminal groups based there. In 2013, victims from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zambia, Bulgaria, and India were identified in Zambia. During the year, an increasing number of Ethiopians, Somalis, and Egyptians arrived in Zambia for unknown purposes. Ugandan, Somali, and Zambian nationals, including children, have been intercepted while being smuggled through Zambia; some may become victims of trafficking upon reaching South Africa.
The Government of Zambia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. For the second consecutive year, the government more than doubled both its anti-trafficking budget—to the equivalent of approximately $180,000—and its number of labor inspectors. The government provided in-kind support to enable the completion of two shelter upgrades and provided counseling, paralegal assistance, and regularization of immigration status for 11 victims. The government investigated six trafficking cases and initiated prosecutions of three suspected offenders; however, it failed to convict any traffickers during the year. While the government investigated cases involving a small number of victims from Zambia or neighboring countries, it failed to criminally investigate more organized trafficking operations involving foreign companies and traffickers responsible for forced labor in the mining, construction, and agricultural sectors. Large companies and foreign governments influenced officials, who were complicit in ongoing trafficking crimes. The failure to seriously address internal trafficking—including child prostitution and domestic servitude—stymied anti-trafficking progress in the country.
Recommendations for Zambia:
Implement the 2008 anti-trafficking act by ensuring the use of a broad definition of human trafficking that does not rely on evidence of movement, but rather focuses on exploitation, consistent with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol; amend the trafficking law so that force, fraud, or coercion are not required for cases involving children under the age of 18 to be considered sex trafficking crimes; investigate and prosecute internal trafficking cases, including child prostitution and forced labor as well as the forced labor of adults in the mining, construction, and agricultural sectors; continue to train police, immigration officials, prosecutors, and judges on investigating and prosecuting trafficking crimes; train all labor inspectors on trafficking indicators; differentiate the process of victim identification from the prosecution of cases; develop bilateral cooperation agreements with additional governments in the region, including the DRC and South Africa; formalize and implement victim identification and referral procedures; screen children accused of crimes for evidence of coercion by traffickers; continue to improve government services for trafficking victims through the establishment of additional shelters; improve coordination among service providers to prevent detention of male victims and facilitate their placement in shelters; begin use of the new database to compile information on human trafficking cases and trends for use by all stakeholders; and continue to conduct public awareness campaigns.
The Government of Zambia maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, initiating three prosecutions. Although the anti-trafficking act of 2008 criminalizes some forms of human trafficking, contrary to international law, it requires the use of threat, force, intimidation, or other forms of coercion for a child to be considered a sex trafficking victim. The act prescribes penalties ranging from 20 years’ to life imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.
The government investigated six potential trafficking cases and initiated the prosecution of three trafficking suspects. One case involved a Zambian girl trafficked to Tanzania for purposes of domestic servitude; the suspected recruiter and exploiter remained in jail awaiting trial under trafficking charges. In another case, an Indian woman entered an arranged marriage with a male Indian resident in Zambia and was brought into the country; upon arrival, he forced her into prostitution. She escaped and reported her case to the Zambian police, but refused to seek criminal charges; a settlement was reached, and her husband paid for her return home. Three of the four prosecutions initiated in 2012 remained pending prosecution, while the victim dropped the charges in the fourth case. These cases involved women and girls from neighboring countries brought to Zambia for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation and one Zambian intercepted en route to South Africa for similar purposes. In 2013, police intercepted a group of 30 Malawian women and children in Lusaka with false identification and immigration documents; officials believed they were intended for exploitation, but were unable to apprehend the suspected offenders.
The government failed to dedicate adequate attention to internal trafficking cases, including Zambian children in prostitution and domestic servitude or forced labor in the mining and agricultural sectors. As in 2011 and 2012, in 2013, the government investigated only one potential case of internal trafficking. This 2013 case involved a Zambian girl in domestic servitude and resulted in an out-of-court settlement. Generally, criminal investigations into forced child labor offenses or cases in which victims were not moved across borders were rare; the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) Child Labor Unit cited mediation with parents as the usual process for handling child labor cases. The government failed to criminally investigate or prosecute companies responsible for labor trafficking in the mining and agricultural sectors; large or foreign companies and foreign governments exerted influence over officials, inhibiting criminal prosecution of offenders suspected of forced labor abuses in these sectors. For example, a Bulgarian woman claimed forced labor occurred in a Lusaka casino, run by a Greek national; bribes to local officials interfered in the outcome of this case. Official complicity and a failure to convict alleged traffickers remained concerns.
With the assistance of a donor-funded program, the government completed development of a database to track trafficking case data and revised police intake forms to collect this data. Police used these forms in all stations, and the database was live in two police stations as part of an initial pilot. Training covering the 2008 anti-trafficking act is included in all law enforcement courses at the police academy, as are investigation techniques and procedures to identify and protect victims. During the year, 41 new police, immigration, drug enforcement, and revenue authority officials received this training. One hundred and ten prosecutors and paralegals also received training, 13 of whom will now serve as trainers. The Zambian government continued to increase its law enforcement partnerships in the region, holding joint permanent commissions and signing cooperation agreements with several countries in the region covering procedural and operational matters related to transnational organized crime. During the year, the government signed cooperation agreements with Mauritius, Malawi, and Mozambique.
The government continued to increase capacity to provide victim protection through the completion of upgrades to two shelters. It continued to rely on international organizations and local NGOs to provide the majority of victim care, with only modest in-kind support. Officials identified at least nine potential victims in 2013 and continued to provide assistance to two foreign victims identified in the previous reporting period. IOM assisted eight of these victims, the majority of whom were referred by officials; government officials provided routine assistance in these cases, including counseling, court preparation, or regularization of immigration status for victims. For example, the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health (MCDMCH) provided counseling to at least two victims and drew on existing social assistance programs to assist an unknown number of potential victims being moved through Zambia en route to South Africa. The government provided some direct services, including medical care and counseling, to an unknown number of trafficking victims through both the government-run university teaching hospital in Lusaka and NGO-run community response centers, which were staffed by the Victim Support Unit officials.
The government continued use of its national referral mechanism finalized in the previous reporting period; according to officials and service providers, the mechanism has improved the operational referral process within Lusaka and provincial areas. The development of the formal procedures for victim identification remained lacking. In 2013, the UN Joint Program on Human Trafficking (UNJPHT) coordinated with the national secretariat on the development of a manual for law enforcement officers and prosecutors to ensure effective implementation of the 2008 anti-trafficking act; the manual covers how to build effective relationships with victim witnesses and encourage their participation in trials.
In order to increase the availability of shelter options for victims, the government oversaw efforts to complete upgrades to two shelters in Lusaka and Kasama, Northern Province, both staffed by an NGO; the government provided furniture and infrastructure to the centers, while the UNJPHT supported the building renovations. These shelters are in addition to the 40-person capacity shelter operated by the MCDMCH in Luapula province, completed in 2012. In 2013, MCDMCH also began construction on a new shelter in Kapiri Mposhi, a key transit point on the border with Tanzania. MCDMCH oversaw the placement of victims at these shelters. Other shelters, including orphanages, were used to temporarily house victims. NGO shelters did not provide accommodation for male victims over the age of 14; they were accommodated only on an ad hoc basis and sometimes jailed alongside their traffickers for months at a time. Zambia’s Minimum Standard Guidelines on Protection of Victims of Trafficking, which established minimum requirements for victim care, mandated shelter upgrades.
Officials encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers. During the year, the government, through its VSU, provided paralegal assistance to at least four victims. The government offered legal alternatives to the removal of victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. Zambian immigration provided a temporary residency permit to regularize the stay of one undocumented Congolese trafficking victim identified in the previous reporting period; she remained in a Zambian shelter pending the prosecution of her suspected trafficker. The government partnered with IOM to repatriate four victims. Zambia immigration provided exit permits and social welfare staff conducted family tracing, conducted risk assessments, and coordinated with officials in countries of origin to ensure continued protection for such victims. Nonetheless, foreign victims were often deported before they could serve as court witnesses. During the year, three potential foreign victims were detained in a Lusaka prison; social welfare officials facilitated their release and collaborated with IOM on their repatriation.
The Zambian government maintained its strong efforts to prevent trafficking. It continued implementation of its 2012-2015 national action plan to combat trafficking, in partnership with NGOs and international organizations. The government’s efforts are coordinated through the national secretariat, which met twice in 2013. In March 2013, the deputy minister of home affairs convened the national committee, a higher-level policy making body than the national secretariat, which did not meet again until December 2013—limiting its effective oversight of efforts during the year. The 2014 national budget funds meetings of the national committee for the upcoming year and includes allocations for MCDMCH and MLSS to conduct trafficking awareness raising campaigns. During the year, officials coordinated anti-trafficking awareness campaigns through radio programs, community forums, and distribution of informational materials in Chililabombwe, Kapiri Mposhi, and Sesheke—border towns and areas known to be high-risk for transnational crime.
During the year, MLSS more than doubled its number of labor officers from 48 to 108; new officers did not receive anti-trafficking training. MLSS officials began a review of the Employment Act to determine how to best address the fact that the law does not adequately address potential abuses in the informal sector, including domestic service. MLSS conducted training for domestic worker recruitment agencies to assist the agencies in detecting trafficking situations and ensuring workers are aware of their rights. Nonetheless, MLSS failed to develop a systematic means to monitor and investigate those allegedly responsible for fraudulent recruitment. MLSS-sponsored district-level labor networks—comprising labor, immigration, police, and social welfare officers—conducted awareness campaigns, tracked information on cases of labor trafficking, and referred victims to services; five such networks were created in 2013 and, at the end of the reporting period, networks existed in 24 of 103 districts. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period. Although Zambian peacekeepers received training not to engage in commercial sex, the government did not provide anti-trafficking training to Zambian troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions in 2013.