The Government of Swaziland does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated significant efforts during the reporting period by investigating more suspected trafficking cases and training labor inspectors and police officers on victim identification and protection procedures. It increased the number of victims it identified and sheltered, and the amount of funding disbursed to a victim assistance fund for protective services. The government conducted awareness campaigns. However, the government did not demonstrate increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. While the government prosecuted and convicted one trafficker under an assault charge, it imposed an inadequate penalty of a fine. The government did not enact the Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling Bill for the second consecutive year, leaving victims vulnerable to deportation or prosecution for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking. Although victim identification guidelines and a national referral mechanism were established in 2015, neither was fully functional or implemented during the reporting period. Therefore, Swaziland remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year.
Enact and implement the draft Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling Bill; vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes, including internal trafficking cases, and convict and adequately punish traffickers; develop, adopt, and implement an updated multi-year national anti-trafficking strategy and action plan; train officials on procedures for victim identification and referral guidelines; train law enforcement officials and social workers to identify trafficking victims proactively among vulnerable populations; regulate labor brokers and investigate allegations of fraudulent recruitment; implement a unified system for collecting trafficking case data for use by all stakeholders; and conduct anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns.
The government increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act, 2009 prescribes penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment for the trafficking of adults and up to 25 years imprisonment for trafficking children, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. However, the government had not drafted or adopted implementing regulations for the law. The draft Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling bill, which would repeal the existing act and provide protections for victims, remained pending for a second year.
The government investigated 19 suspected trafficking cases—18 cases of forced labor and one sex trafficking case, compared with two the previous year. The government prosecuted one alleged trafficker; he was acquitted of trafficking charges but convicted for assault; the court sentenced him to three years imprisonment or a fine of 5,000 Swazi emalangeni ($360), which he paid. The court required the offender to pay overdue wages to the victim. Officials continued to confuse crimes involving transnational movement with trafficking offenses. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses. During the reporting period, the government trained the police and labor inspectorate on victim identification and protection procedures, as well as on measures to improve communication and cooperation among officials. The government, in partnership with a foreign donor, trained 35 anti-trafficking police officers on the difference between trafficking and smuggling, investigation techniques, and how to prepare and give evidence in a trafficking case. The government continued to provide anti-trafficking training at the police college for all in-service and pre-service officers during the reporting period. The government cooperated in international investigations in six cases with South Africa, Mozambique, and Lesotho.
The government increased efforts to identify victims and allocated more funding to provide protective services. The government identified and sheltered 19 potential victims in a secure, government-owned witness protection facility, an increase from two the previous reporting period. The government provided victims with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, toiletries, counseling, and medical care in collaboration with NGOs. There were no government-run shelters specifically for trafficking victims and NGO-run shelters had limited ability to house trafficking victims among their general populations due to space constraints. The government increased its allocation to 80,000 Swazi emalangeni ($5,840) from 10,000 Swazi emalangeni ($730) to a victim assistance fund for protective services.
Although victim identification guidelines and a national referral mechanism were established in 2015, neither was fully functional or implemented during the reporting period. There were no reports the government detained, fined, or jailed victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. The government did not finalize review of amendments to the immigration act that would provide victims and witnesses of trafficking immunity from prosecution and would formalize residency status for foreign victims, in conformity with the People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act. While the draft amendments remained under review, the government developed an ad hoc process among relevant ministries to permit identified victims to remain in Swaziland even if discovered to be present illegally. The government facilitated the repatriation of at least one Swazi victim during the reporting period.
The government demonstrated modest efforts to prevent trafficking through awareness campaigns. The government did not update its national action plan (NAP), which expired in 2015. The taskforce for the Prevention of People Trafficking and People Smuggling was reestablished in January 2017 after a four month lapse and met in February and April 2017. In coordination with an international organization, the government conducted an analysis of how to improve prevention, protection, and prosecution of trafficking. The taskforce secretariat conducted public awareness activities at the Swaziland international trade fair, targeting traditional leaders, students, young women, and parents with information on preventing child trafficking and how to report suspected cases. The secretariat conducted sessions on human trafficking at schools with the assistance of teachers and police officers. The secretariat continued its border campaign, placing posters at various land borders and the airport to raise awareness on trafficking. Swazi officials also presented messages targeting young women on television and radio. The government’s anti-trafficking hotline continued to receive tips on potential cases; the government did not report how many tips it received or what action it took. The government provided technical assistance to Zimbabwe on the framework and operation of an anti-trafficking taskforce in combating trafficking.
The Ministry of Labor had one investigator dedicated to its child labor unit; however, there were no labor inspections conducted solely to address child labor violations in 2016. Labor brokers were unregulated. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex or forced labor. The government provided anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.
As reported over the past five years, Swaziland is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Swazi girls, particularly orphans, are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude, primarily in Swaziland and South Africa. Swazis are culturally expected to participate in the seasonal weeding and harvesting of the king’s fields and those who may refuse are subject to coercion through threats and intimidation by their chiefs. Swazi boys and foreign children are forced to labor in commercial agriculture, including cattle herding, and market vending within the country. Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland for work washing cars, herding livestock, and portering; some are subjected to forced labor. Traffickers use Swaziland as a transit country to transport foreign victims to South Africa for forced labor. Traffickers reportedly force Mozambican women into prostitution in Swaziland, or transport them through Swaziland to South Africa. Some Swazi women are forced into prostitution in South Africa and Mozambique after voluntarily migrating in search of work. 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 recruited for forced labor in South Africa’s timber industry. Reports indicate a downturn in the textile industry following loss of eligibility under the African Growth and Opportunity Act in 2015 has led textile workers to follow promises of employment in neighboring countries, potentially increasing their vulnerability to trafficking.