NAMIBIA: Tier 2
The Government of Namibia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, therefore, Namibia remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by identifying and referring to care more trafficking victims, by drafting a national mechanism to refer victims to care, and by establishing a multi-sectoral steering committee, the TIP National Coordinating Body (TNCB), and signing a memorandum of understanding to strengthen inter-ministerial coordination on trafficking cases. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not convict any traffickers. Government-funded shelters lacked personnel and resources to assist victims. The government did not conduct awareness activities.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NAMIBIA
Finalize and enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including for forced labor; adopt and implement the draft national mechanism to identify victims and refer them to care; allocate additional resources for shelter services, including to develop a plan to fully operationalize renovated safe houses specifically for trafficking victims; finalize and implement a new national action plan to guide anti-trafficking efforts; train officials on relevant legislation; institute a unified system for collecting trafficking case data for use by all stakeholders; strengthen coordination among government ministries at both the ministerial and working level; and increase efforts to raise awareness, especially in rural areas.
The government maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2009 Prevention of Organized Crime Act criminalizes all forms of trafficking and prescribes sentences of up to 50 years imprisonment and a fine for persons who participate in trafficking offenses or aid and abet traffickers, penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In April 2015, the government enacted the Child Care and Protection Act, which includes provisions explicitly criminalizing child trafficking and providing protection measures for victims of child trafficking; however, the bill will not enter into force until regulations related to other parts of the law have been promulgated. The government continued to review the National Human Trafficking Bill, which is meant to provide a single point of reference for all trafficking cases and also includes protection and prevention measures; however, it was not enacted at the end of the reporting period.
In 2016, the government conducted eight trafficking investigations, three for sex trafficking and five for forced labor, compared to seven in 2015. The government initiated prosecution in two trafficking cases of seven defendants, the same as in 2015. The government did not convict any traffickers, compared to one conviction in the previous reporting period. One prosecution initiated in 2014 resulted in acquittal during the reporting period. The government continued implementing its training curriculum for new immigration officers and in-service personnel, with three of 14 regions trained in the reporting period. The government provided anti-trafficking training to an unknown number of law enforcement officers in three police colleges during the reporting period. The curriculum included a new overview on identifying and assisting trafficking victims; however, the training was not comprehensive. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government maintained modest efforts to protect trafficking victims. It identified 12 trafficking victims, including eight foreign nationals, and referred all victims to care facilities for assistance, although the government did not report what specific services it provided. This was compared to five victims identified and referred in 2015. However, the government did not have formal written procedures for use by all officials on victim identification and referral to care. The TNCB drafted but did not adopt a national referral mechanism to formalize identification and referral procedures. In practice, when police identified a woman or child victim of crime, including trafficking, they transferred the victim to the Gender-Based Violence Protection Units (GBVPU), which refer victims of all crimes to temporary shelter and medical assistance. GBVPU 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. Government shelters for victims of gender-based violence (GBV), including trafficking, were not fully operational, and were used as a last resort to provide emergency short-term shelter in limited cases. A government-funded NGO shelter in Windhoek provides care for women and child victims of GBV and trafficking; during the reporting period, it provided care to 60 women and 85 child victims of GBV and trafficking, including four identified trafficking victims. The government lacked standard operating procedures for shelters, which remained under development by MGECW. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration continued to provide immigration officials a printed manual to guide identification of trafficking victims.
The government did not have a policy to encourage victims’ participation in investigations; the law provides for witness protection or other accommodations for vulnerable witnesses that in principle would be available for trafficking victims. There were no reports that the government detained, fined, or jailed victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; however, without uniform victim identification measures, victims may be left unidentified in the law enforcement system. Street children remained vulnerable to detention as police and immigration officials did not always screen for indicators of trafficking. The police and prosecutor general began implementing a formal policy to screen individuals who have been identified for deportation for trafficking before deportation. While the government had no formal policy to provide residence permits to foreign victims of trafficking, during previous reporting periods government officials made ad-hoc arrangements for victims to remain in Namibia.
The government maintained prevention efforts. The ministerial-level national committee to combat trafficking and its technical committee did not hold any official meetings during the reporting period. The national action plan to combat trafficking in persons expired at the end of 2016; reportedly, members of the technical committee continued work on a new plan. In April 2016, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with an international organization to launch an anti-trafficking program; however, implementation of the awareness-raising component of the project remained pending at the end of the reporting period. The government conducted awareness-raising events through the Ministry of Education in schools throughout the fourteen regions as well as outreach to religious leaders in the capital. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare employed 97 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 or forced labor. The government provided anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel.
As reported over the past five years, Namibia is a source and destination country for children, and to a lesser extent women, subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Some victims are initially offered legitimate work for adequate wages, but are then subjected to forced labor in urban centers and on commercial farms. Namibian children are subjected to forced labor in agriculture, cattle herding, and domestic service, and to sex trafficking in Windhoek and Walvis Bay. A 2015 media report alleged foreign sex tourists from southern Africa and Europe exploit child sex trafficking victims. Namibians commonly house and care for children of distant relatives to provide expanded educational opportunities; however, in some instances, these children are exploited in forced labor. Among Namibia’s ethnic groups, San and Zemba children are particularly vulnerable to forced labor on farms or in homes. In 2014, an NGO reported persons in prostitution, some of whom may have been trafficking victims, were taken aboard foreign vessels off the Namibian coast. Children from less affluent neighboring countries may be subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, including in street vending in Windhoek and other cities as well as in the fishing sector. Angolan children may be brought to Namibia for forced labor in cattle herding. There were reports in 2013 of labor violations—potentially including forced labor—involving foreign adults and Namibian adults and children in Chinese-owned retail, construction, and fishing operations.