The government maintained modest anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2008 Law on Preventing and Combating the Trafficking of People criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of 16 to 20 years’ imprisonment. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The law did not, however, establish the use of force, fraud, or coercion as an essential element of the crime, as is consistent with the definition of trafficking under international law.
In 2018, the government investigated 10 trafficking cases, six suspected forced labor cases and four suspected sex trafficking cases, compared with investigating five forced labor cases the previous year. These cases involved 25 Mozambican victims and one Rwandan victim. The government prosecuted seven defendants in seven cases compared with six defendants in five cases the previous year; one case remained pending at the close of the reporting period. The government convicted two traffickers for labor trafficking under the 2008 anti-trafficking law, compared with six convictions in 2017, and sentenced one trafficker to four years’ imprisonment and the other trafficker remained awaiting sentencing at the close of the reporting period. While expert reports alleged traffickers commonly bribed police and immigration officials to facilitate trafficking crimes both domestically and across international borders, the government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government conducted nationwide trainings for front-line responders during the reporting period. The government trained judges and lawyers on the anti-trafficking law and procedure. Provincial and district reference groups throughout the country conducted trainings and seminars, including training national police officers on investigative techniques, and proper identification and referral of trafficking victims. The Attorney General’s Office had bilateral memoranda of understanding (MOU) with the Republic of South Africa, Eswatini, and Zambia to address cross-border cooperation on trafficking cases. The government partnered with neighboring governments and an international law enforcement organization to increase investigative capacity of law enforcement through an intelligence-driven operation. As a result, officials in two countries arrested suspected traffickers and identified 87 victims. It is unclear if there was overlap between these cases and trafficking cases reported by the government.