The government maintained victim protection efforts. The government identified five trafficking victims, and referred all victims to care, a decrease from identifying and referring to care 14 victims during the previous reporting period. Of those victims identified, four were sex trafficking victims—three women from Eswatini and one from South Africa—and one man, a victim of forced labor from Pakistan. After providing food, clothing, toiletries, psycho-social support, and medical care for all victims at government facilities, the government reunified the Swati victims with their families and the anti-trafficking secretariat coordinated with the governments of South Africa and Pakistan to safely repatriate the two foreign victims. The government owned one facility that provided short-term care for trafficking victims and partnered with several NGOs to provide long-term, comprehensive care, but it did not have shelter policies or guidelines to ensure quality of care. The government allocated 80,000 emalangeni ($5,570) for the second consecutive year to a victim assistance fund for protective services. The government reported no victims were detained or fined for unlawful acts committed as a result of their being trafficked. The government trained an increased number of front-line responders. The government improved coordination between law enforcement, the judiciary, and victim protection providers. The government encouraged victims to assist in investigations by providing witness protection services, as well as transportation and accommodation, as needed.
The SODVA created new legal protections for victims of exploitation, including sex trafficking victims. Under the new law, the REPS, the DPP, His Majesty’s Correctional Services, the Director of Health Services, and the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office were given new responsibilities to ensure a victim-centered approach. Every law enforcement officer had an affirmative obligation to inform victims of the availability of counseling and other protective services. The act required that medical treatment be provided in such a way as to reasonably minimize the effects of secondary trauma on the victim. The SODVA also established victim and witness protection provisions to facilitate safe communication with officials, such as police and magistrates, required the use of child-friendly courts for child victims, and established several additional protections for child witnesses. The SODVA created protective measures to support children during trial. Notably, the act abolished the common law “cautionary rule” in relation both to children and all victims of sexual offenses, including sex trafficking victims. Formerly, the “cautionary rule” dictated that the testimony of certain witnesses, like women and minor children, needed to be independently corroborated based on perceptions of their comparatively diminished reliability and competency. The government trained an increased number of front-line responders, which improved its implementation of the victim identification guidelines and national referral mechanism, which were established in 2015. The government employed a victim-centered approach throughout the referral process and improved coordination between law enforcement, the judiciary, and victim protection providers. The government encouraged victims to assist in investigations by providing witness protection services, as well as transportation and accommodation, as needed.