The government demonstrated increased protection efforts by adopting a national referral mechanism and referring all identified victims to care. The government reported identifying 10 victims and an international organization reported identifying 21 additional victims, for a total of 31 potential trafficking victims identified, compared with 87 total victims identified by officials and partners in 2017. In addition, a local NGO-operated hotline responded to one verified case of trafficking during the reporting period. Of those 10 victims identified by the government, eight were female and two were male. The government did not identify any victims exploited within Zimbabwe. The government referred all victims to care, as compared to the previous year when it repatriated some victims and referred others to care. The government referred the eight female victims to an NGO that operated 11 shelters for women in eight of 10 provinces throughout the country; they received protective services including counseling and medical care. Of these victims, two female victims were identified in Kuwait and one female victim was identified in China; all victims were exploited in both sex and labor trafficking. The Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare (MPSLSW) partnered closely with the Zimbabwean embassies in both China and Kuwait to repatriate all three victims. Traffickers exploited four victims, two males and two females, in labor trafficking, in China. An international organization identified another 21 Zimbabwean victims, 19 female and two male, 17 of these victims were exploited in Kuwait and four were exploited in China. The MPSLSW partnered with an international organization to provide reintegration assistance and resources to begin income-generating projects to all 21 victims identified abroad by the organization. NGO shelters were capacitated to provide shelter for both male and female victims of gender-based violence, trafficking, and domestic violence. The NGOs that provided protective services did not receive funding from the government and struggled to operate without such support. While the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Act required the government to establish centers in each of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces to provide counseling, rehabilitation, and reintegration services, these centers have not been established since the passage of the law.
The government, in partnership with an international organization and other stakeholders, developed and adopted an NRM, which outlined SOPs in the identification, referral, and assistance of trafficking victims. The ATIMC drafted and adopted implementing regulations, which gave legal force to key procedures set out in the NRM, empowered provincial operational task teams, and defined clear roles and responsibilities for front-line responders. In partnership with an international organization, the government trained task force members on international and regional anti-trafficking legal frameworks, trafficking indicators, investigations and prosecutions, the NRM, and the South African Development Community (SADC) data collection tool. During the reporting period, the technical steering committee on the protections of victims of trafficking, led by the MPSLSW, met to oversee the protection and provision of reintegration assistance and services provided to victims of trafficking. The MPSLSW had a system whereby each potential trafficking case reported was handled jointly by an NGO and a Department of Social Welfare caseworker. The government encouraged victims to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases and at least 10 victims testified during the reporting period. During the reporting period the government provided all 10 witnesses with transport, accommodation, and meals during while they provided testimony in court. The government implemented a comprehensive system for victim-witnesses, which included police units, courts, health services, and a referral system that were more victim-centered. Police officers were trained to obtain forensic reports, direct victims to medical care, and explain the judicial process. Courts had a separate room for victims to testify away from their alleged perpetrators and victims could choose to testify via video. Prosecutors, probation officers, and magistrates were trained to treat victims sensitively, handle cases quickly, and refer victims to post-trial support services. Health service providers were trained to collect evidence for criminal investigations, prepare medical affidavits, and offer immediate and long-term psycho-social support and health care. Despite having this framework in place, there have been cases in which traffickers gained access to victims or their families during court proceedings to compromise the witnesses’ testimony. The government did not have legal alternatives to removal to countries in which victims would face retribution or hardship; however, no foreign victims were identified during the reporting period.