ZAMBIA: Tier 2 Watch List

The Government of the Republic of Zambia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making efforts to do so. These efforts included increasing law enforcement trainings, establishing two fast-track human trafficking courts, and conducting campaigns to raise awareness of human trafficking. The government slightly increased the number of prosecutions and convictions, punishing traffickers with sufficiently stringent prison sentences. However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. The government’s investigation of trafficking crimes and its funding to shelters and other victim assistance programs significantly decreased. The government did not proactively screen for trafficking indicators among vulnerable populations, including foreign nationals, and individuals involved in commercial sex—a consistent concern over the past three years. Additionally, because of the lack of screening, authorities reportedly detained and deported potential trafficking victims that appeared to be involved in smuggling. The national inter-ministerial committee lacked both leadership and consistency in overseeing national anti-trafficking efforts and trends. Therefore Zambia was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List.

Improve efforts to implement the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) to proactively identify trafficking victims and refer them to protective services.Amend the trafficking law to define child sex trafficking as not requiring force, fraud, or coercion and to define trafficking as a crime that does not require movement.Consistently investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases.Screen vulnerable populations for trafficking indicators, including refugees, asylum-seekers, and foreign nationals, such as Rwandans, Chinese, and North Koreans, and refer them to appropriate services.Cease the penalization of trafficking victims for unlawful acts their traffickers compelled them to commit.Increase funding for rehabilitation services.Expand training for police, immigration officials, prosecutors, and judges on investigating and prosecuting trafficking crimes to ensure increased investigations and prosecutions of alleged traffickers.Increase protective services for victims participating in the criminal justice process to prevent re-traumatization.Establish a network of interpreters to ensure provision of interpretation services for foreign victims to deliver comprehensive legal and protective services.Compile and make public information on trafficking cases and trends.

The government demonstrated mixed anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The Anti Trafficking Act of 2008 criminalized some forms of sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Inconsistent with the definition of trafficking under international law, the law only defined an offense as trafficking if it involved transnationality. Additionally, the law required a demonstration of threats, force, intimidation, or other forms of coercion to constitute a child sex trafficking offense, and therefore did not criminalize all forms of child sex trafficking. The act prescribed penalties ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government, in coordination with an international organization, concluded its review of the existing anti-trafficking act. At the end of the reporting period, draft amendments to bring the law in line with international standards were awaiting ratification by parliament.

The government investigated 13 potential trafficking cases, a significant decrease compared with 79 investigations in 2018. The government initiated four prosecutions involving eight defendants, which remained ongoing at the close of the reporting period, compared with three prosecutions involving three defendants reported in 2018. The government convicted four traffickers in 2019, compared with two convictions in 2018. Courts sentenced traffickers to imprisonment ranging from 15 to 25 years; courts sentenced one convicted juvenile trafficker to a reformatory school. The government did not report whether these cases involved sex or labor trafficking. In Lusaka Province, courts withdrew all trafficking charges against one alleged trafficker and acquitted one alleged trafficker in a case initiated in 2018. In Sesheke, courts acquitted and released four traffickers from the only trafficking case the government reported prosecuting and convicting in 2018. The government investigated one government official for alleged complicity in forced labor of a child in domestic work; however, the government did not arrest, prosecute, or convict any government officials complicit in trafficking crimes during the reporting period. In February 2019, a federal court in Maryland entered a final judgment against a former Zambian World Bank employee and her husband, a Zambian diplomat posted in the United States, in a civil lawsuit brought by their former G-5 domestic worker. The court found that the couple had violated federal and state labor law, and that the World Bank employee had breached the employment contract. The court ordered the couple to pay approximately $114,000 in damages and attorney fees. The judgment appears to remain unpaid.

The government did not conduct or request international investigations in countries that reported cases involving Zambian trafficking victims. The government assisted international organizations and local nongovernmental organizations in facilitating human trafficking training modules for law enforcement officers, criminal justice practitioners and magistrates, traditional chiefs and their assistants, and labor officers. The government coordinated training from an international organization and a local NGO for 50 criminal justice practitioners, including 26 local magistrates, resulting in the government designating two fast-track courts in Lusaka to hear human trafficking cases in addition to other cases. During the reporting period, Zambia Police Service’s Victim Support Unit designated a primary focal point to coordinate country-wide trafficking case reporting and response, including all international airports in Zambia. The law enforcement training college provided anti-trafficking training for at least 2,500 new recruits as part of regular onboarding.

The government maintained inadequate victim protection efforts and decreased overall funding for victim assistance. The government identified 17 victims during the reporting period—the same number of potential victims identified during the previous reporting period. Of the victims identified, at least 11 were children; 11 were female and six were male—the majority of victims were Zambian and at least four were from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The government did not report the number of adult victims it identified, compared with its identification of three adult victims during the previous reporting period. Traffickers exploited 11 victims in domestic servitude in Zambia and Namibia, four victims in cattle herding in Namibia, and two males from the DRC in forced labor in an unknown industry. The government did not report identifying any sex trafficking victims. In coordination with an international organization, the government referred all victims it identified to protective services using its NRM; however, front-line officials routinely neglected to use these methods to identify and refer victims to care, especially in cases involving foreign nationals or in commercial sex. The government repatriated two Zambian victims identified in South Africa, compared to 10 Zambian victims identified in various countries in 2018; however, the government did not provide reintegration services to repatriated victims, as the repatriation lacked close coordination with the national inter-ministerial committee and its secretariat. The government did not report coordinating the repatriation of foreign national victims identified in Zambia during the reporting period, compared to six victims from five countries in 2018. The government continued updating its current standard victim identification form to better guide front-line officials in proactively identifying trafficking victims; however, law enforcement officers did not use forms currently available.

The government partnered with international organizations to offer routine assistance to victims, including medical care and counseling; however, the government did not provide all services across Zambia. The Ministry of Community Development and Social Services operated one 40-person shelter for victims of trafficking and victims of sexual abuse in Luapula Province and other shelters in Central and Western Provinces, all of which accommodated male victims of trafficking. Shelters across the country, especially in rural areas outside Lusaka and Copperbelt Provinces, continued to lack available space, training for shelter staff, education opportunities, and integration services due to low capacity and training of victim support officers, scarce resources, and lack of funding. The government significantly decreased funding to respond to trafficking cases; the Department of Social Welfare provided 50,000 Zambian kwacha ($3,560) to support a shelter in Sesheke in 2019, compared to 1.04 million Zambia kwacha ($74,020) provided to designated shelters, homes, and school across Zambia in 2018. The government did not report spending additional funds for victim assistance in 2019, compared to spending 50,000 Zambian kwacha ($3,560) in 2018.

The government provided foreign victims of trafficking the same protective services as Zambian nationals; however, authorities did not provide interpretation services for foreign national victims. The Department of Immigration provided regularization of immigration status and temporary residency for all foreign victims in accordance with the 2008 trafficking law. Regularization of stay was not dependent on the victim’s cooperation with law enforcement, and the government offered legal alternatives to the removal of victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution; however, the government did not report applying this alternative to foreign victims during the reporting period. The lack of availability of interpreters continued to be a barrier to providing timely and comprehensive care for victims, and victims often paid a fee to obtain interpretation services, despite the government reporting interpretation services are available free of charge. The government did not make progress to screen potential victims of trafficking consistently in cases that appeared to involve smuggling; the government detained, charged, or deported individuals who reportedly consented to being smuggled, including potential trafficking victims, without screening those individuals for trafficking indicators. The government regularly held potential victims in detention, alongside traffickers, while awaiting their court case. The government rarely provided opportunities for victim testimony via video or written statements and made no proactive efforts to prevent re-traumatization.

The government demonstrated decreased efforts to prevent trafficking. The government had a 2018-2021 national action plan (NAP) on trafficking and mixed and irregular migration. The national inter-ministerial committee and its secretariat, which was charged with oversight of national anti-trafficking efforts, did not meet regularly, lacked a designated chair during most the reporting period, and the newly appointed chair did not attend any committee meetings. These factors hampered the committee’s ability to monitor and implement the NAP. The inter-ministerial committee, in coordination with international organizations, launched various awareness campaigns in rural and border areas to educate local communities on the recognition of human trafficking. The Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs led a similar campaign in Western Province. The National Prosecution Authority, police, and immigration officials led and participated in awareness campaigns in churches and primary schools in various rural areas in several provinces. The government did not operate a hotline for potential victims of trafficking and did not track call data related to potential victims of human trafficking from hotlines operated by nongovernmental organizations.

The government continued its partnerships in the region through routine coordination of anti-trafficking efforts with South Africa. The Ministry of Labor conducted inspections and investigations of labor brokers on a regular basis throughout the country to regulate recruitment practices and prevent fraudulent job offers that may lead to exploitation. The Employment Act set forth requirements for the regulation of labor brokers and prohibited labor brokers from charging prospective employees for any services rendered. The labor ministry conducted inspections and investigations of labor brokers on a regular basis throughout the country to regulate recruitment practices and prevent fraudulent job offers that may lead to exploitation. During 2019, the Ministry of Labor employed 160 labor inspectors, compared to 155 employed the previous year. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel. The government trained peacekeepers on anti-trafficking prior to deployment.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Zambia, and traffickers exploit victims from Zambia abroad. Most trafficking occurs within the country’s borders and involves traffickers exploiting women and children from rural areas in cities in domestic servitude or forced labor in agriculture, textile production, mining, construction, small businesses such as bakeries, and forced begging. Jerabo gangs may force Zambian children to engage in illegal mining operations, such as loading stolen copper or crushing rocks. Orphans and street children remain vulnerable to trafficking; however, children of village families are also at risk of trafficking because sending children to the city for work is perceived to confer status and may entice families to send a child to the city without verifying the environment. Truck drivers exploit Zambian boys and girls in sex trafficking in towns along the Zimbabwean and Tanzanian borders, and miners exploit them in Solwezi. Traffickers exploit Zambian boys in sex trafficking in Zimbabwe and exploit women and girls in sex trafficking in South Africa. Domestically, extended families and trusted family acquaintances facilitate trafficking. Zambians from the depressed rural areas in the Western Province are coerced into forced labor in Namibia.

Traffickers exploit women and children from neighboring countries in forced labor and sex trafficking in Zambia. Traffickers lure Rwandan women to Zambia with promises of refugee status, coerce them into registering as DRC nationals seeking refugee status in Zambia, and subsequently exploit them in sex trafficking and threaten them with physical abuse and reporting them to immigration officials for fraudulent refugee claims. Traffickers increasingly exploit victims from Tanzania and Malawi in the Zambian timber industry. North Koreans working in Zambia may have been forced to work by the North Korean government. Chinese traffickers bring in Chinese women and girls for sexual exploitation in brothels and massage parlors in Lusaka; traffickers use front companies posing as travel agencies to lure Chinese victims and coordinate with Zambian facilitators and middlemen. Chinese nationals are increasingly exploited in forced labor in Chinese-owned companies in the construction, mining, and service sectors. Indian-Zambian nationals operating in India facilitated illegal adoption of Indian children for the purpose of exploiting them in domestic servitude in Zambia.

U.S. Department of State

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