MOZAMBIQUE: Tier 2

The Government of Mozambique does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Mozambique remained on Tier 2. These efforts included prosecuting all identified cases of trafficking; training front-line officials on trafficking; conducting national awareness-raising campaigns; and updating standard operating procedures for provincial and district reference groups to enhance their anti-trafficking response. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government investigated and prosecuted fewer trafficking cases, convicted fewer traffickers, and did not proactively identify trafficking victims other than those represented by criminal cases. The government did not finalize a draft national referral mechanism for the fourth consecutive year, which limited victims’ access to protective services and left potential victims unidentified, nor did it finalize implementing regulations for the sixth consecutive year; as a result, the protection provisions within the 2008 anti-trafficking act still were not operationalized. The government also did not adopt a national action plan for the eighth consecutive year, hindering overall anti-trafficking efforts. Mozambican officials remained without effective policies or laws that would regulate foreign labor recruiters and hold them civilly and criminally liable for fraudulent recruiting.

Amend the anti-trafficking law to bring the definition of trafficking in line with the definition of trafficking under international law. • Finalize, implement, and train officials to use standard operating procedures for victim identification and the national referral mechanism to refer all victims to appropriate care. • Systematically and proactively identify trafficking victims by screening vulnerable populations—including victims of child abuse, individuals in resettlement camps, and foreign nationals, such as migrants from neighboring countries and North Korean and Cuban workers—for trafficking indicators and refer them to appropriate services. • Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes and sentence convicted traffickers, including complicit officials, to adequate penalties. • Increase provision of comprehensive services, including medical care, psycho-social counseling, and shelter, to all victims, including males and foreign nationals, and expand the availability of protective services for all victims, including long-term shelter and reintegration assistance. • Finalize, adopt, and dedicate funds to implement the national action plan. • Build the capacity of the labor inspectorate and the Women and Children’s Victim Assistance Units to identify potential trafficking victims, investigate trafficking cases, and refer victims to care. • Hold labor recruiters liable for fraudulent recruitment. • Increase coordination among district, provincial, and national stakeholders to bolster reporting on the government’s anti-trafficking efforts.

The government maintained 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. Inconsistent with international law, the law did not establish the use of force, fraud, or coercion as an essential element of the crime. The government continued to work with an international organization to review draft amendments to bring the 2008 anti-trafficking law in line with international standards; however, draft amendments were awaiting approval by various stakeholders for the second consecutive reporting period.

The government investigated six potential trafficking cases in 2020, determining two cases to be trafficking—a Mozambican boy exploited in forced labor in Mozambique and a Mozambican woman exploited in sex trafficking in Tanzania—involving two suspected traffickers, compared with 13 investigations and eight confirmed cases in 2019. The government initiated prosecutions on both of these cases in 2020, compared with eight prosecutions of confirmed cases in the previous reporting period. The government convicted one trafficker of labor trafficking under the 2008 anti-trafficking law, compared with two convictions reported in 2019. Courts sentenced the trafficker to six years’ imprisonment. The initiated sex trafficking prosecution remained ongoing at the end of the reporting period. With support from an international organization, the government contributed information on the two confirmed cases of trafficking during the reporting period to a national centralized anti-trafficking data collection and reporting tool. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses; however, corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action during the year. Similar to previous years, alleged traffickers commonly bribed police and immigration officials to facilitate trafficking crimes both domestically and across international borders, especially to South Africa. Officials and civil society stakeholders reported government-imposed restrictions related to the pandemic, such as limited travel within the country, curfews, and border closures, slowed or inhibited law enforcement activity, especially investigations, during the reporting period.

The government conducted various trainings across the country for front-line responders during the reporting period. In partnership with international organizations, the government trained provincial and district reference groups on the anti-trafficking legal framework, victim identification, and investigation skills to at least 250 officials throughout Cabo Delgado, Manica, Nampula, Sofala, and Zambezia provinces. The government, in partnership with an international NGO, also provided training on the differences between trafficking and smuggling, and on victim identification and assistance to border agents in Maputo Province and at the South African border. The government partnered with the Government of Tanzania on the aforementioned sex trafficking case, requesting additional evidence from Tanzanian officials; coordination remained ongoing at the end of the reporting period.

The government maintained minimal victim protection efforts. The government identified two victims in 2020, a significant decrease compared with 22 victims identified the previous reporting period. The government, in partnership with an international organization, supported the repatriation of the victim exploited in Tanzania; law enforcement also accompanied the victim when she returned to Tanzania to provide testimony. The government reported returning both identified victims to their families; however, the government did not report any other services provided to victims. The government continued to lack adequate procedures to screen vulnerable populations, including foreign migrants and victims of child abuse, for trafficking and did not identify any victims outside those involved in law enforcement activity. Additionally, front-line officials lacked a general understanding of trafficking, which hampered victim identification efforts. Officials and civil society organizations reported that the actual number of trafficking victims in Mozambique was likely significantly higher than the number represented by criminal cases. Although a draft national referral mechanism (NRM) continued to be informally distributed to officials to identify and refer victims, the government did not finalize and fully implement the NRM for the fourth consecutive year; observers reported the lack of a formal NRM hampered community-level officials’ efforts to identify victims, and many potential trafficking cases went unidentified during the reporting period. The government did not report progress on finalizing implementing regulations for trafficking victims and witness protection, hindering the government’s provision of protection services for trafficking victims; draft regulations remained incomplete for the sixth consecutive reporting period.

Despite government-provided care reportedly being available for trafficking victims, the government did not report utilizing these services for the past two years. The government generally relied on civil society organizations to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to care but did not report providing financial or in-kind support to such organizations. The Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Action operated three centers that could provide short-term shelter, medical and psychological care, family reunification, and legal assistance to trafficking victims; however, the government did not detail the scope of the services provided during the reporting period. The government did not have a long-term shelter for trafficking victims or an alternative for those in need of long-term shelter. While the government specified that it occasionally could provide shelter for adult male victims, it did not report identifying any adult male victims during the year. Police stations throughout the country had specialists, trained by the Office of Assistance to Women and Children Victims of Domestic Violence, equipped and available to respond to suspected trafficking cases. The government continued to operate facilities in more than 215 police stations and 22 “Victims of Violence” centers throughout the country offering temporary shelter, food, limited counseling, and monitoring following reintegration for victims of crime. The government did not, however, provide specific numbers of trafficking victims who benefited from these services in 2020. The anti-trafficking law required police protection for victims who participated as witnesses in criminal proceedings against traffickers, but the government did not report providing these services to any victims. Mozambican law provided for temporary residency status or legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they might face hardship or retribution; however, the government did not identify any foreign victims for the second consecutive reporting period, so it did not implement these provisions. Authorities may have penalized trafficking victims for crimes traffickers compelled them to commit; observers reported because officials did not use standard victim identification procedures, some potential victims, particularly irregular migrants, may have been deported or remained unidentified in the law enforcement system.

The government maintained overall efforts to prevent trafficking, while slightly increasing efforts to raise awareness of trafficking among vulnerable populations. The National Reference Group, under leadership of the attorney general’s office, convened regularly during the reporting period to coordinate national anti-trafficking efforts, and members at the national, provincial, and district levels met regularly as working groups to address specific trafficking cases and concerns. In partnership with international organizations, the government updated standard operating procedures (SOPs) for provincial and district reference groups to better equip officials to combat trafficking in the context of natural disasters and increasing violent extremism; the government reportedly began implementing the SOPs in IDP resettlement camps in the northern and central provinces to conduct awareness raising within the camps. The government remained without a national action plan (NAP) since 2012; despite having a draft NAP complete since 2017 and continued engagement with civil society during the reporting period to review the draft NAP, the government did not adopt the NAP for the fourth consecutive year. Additionally, the government did not have a dedicated budget to combat trafficking, which hampered overall anti-trafficking efforts. Despite pandemic-related restrictions on travel and in-person gatherings, the government continued awareness-raising efforts during the reporting period. The government conducted national public awareness campaigns in all provinces, but due to pandemic-related restrictions, only 2,700 speeches and presentations were delivered, compared with 5,000 in 2019. In partnership with an international NGO, the government created and distributed via text message electronic posters to raise awareness about child trafficking, sexual exploitation of girls, and human trafficking risks associated with illegal immigration. The attorney general’s office led school programs focused on preventing online recruitment.

The government did not report operating or providing support to a hotline exclusively available for adult victims of trafficking; however, the government continued providing logistical and technical support for an NGO-run hotline that was available to report crimes against children, including potential trafficking. With in-kind government support, the NGO established a new hotline in Manica in October 2020 to expand availability to report crimes against children, including potential trafficking, outside of Maputo and better respond to callers in local languages. In 2020, hotlines identified 17 potential trafficking cases, referring potential victims to service providers and reporting the cases to the government; however, the government did not report responding to these cases. The government did not report training labor inspectors to screen workers for trafficking indicators during the reporting period and has not done so since 2018. Mozambican officials remained without effective policies or laws regulating foreign recruiters and holding them civilly and criminally liable for fraudulent recruiting. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to diplomats. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Mozambique, and traffickers exploit victims from Mozambique abroad. Forced child labor occurs in agriculture, mining, and market vending in rural areas, often with the complicity of family members. Traffickers lure voluntary migrants, especially women and girls from rural areas, from neighboring countries to cities in Mozambique or South Africa with promises of employment or education, and then they exploit those victims in domestic servitude and sex trafficking. Traffickers exploit Mozambican girls in bars, roadside clubs, overnight stopping points, and restaurants along the southern transport corridor that links Maputo with Eswatini and South Africa. Increasingly, traffickers recruit women and girls via the internet with promises of employment using fake business profiles on social media, then subsequently exploit them in sex trafficking or forced labor. Child sex trafficking is a growing concern in the cities of Maputo, Beira, Chimoio, Tete, and Nacala, which have highly mobile populations and large numbers of truck drivers. As of October 2020, an international organization reported there were more than 93,000 IDPs in Mozambique as a result of two tropical cyclones in 2019; individuals in resettlement camps or otherwise affected by the cyclones are increasingly vulnerable to trafficking. Additionally, an international organization reported in April 2021 there were more than 700,000 IDPs in northern and central Mozambique as a result of violent extremism and instability in the region; women and children are increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by non-state armed groups for forced labor and sex trafficking.

Traffickers exploit Mozambican men and boys in forced labor on South African farms and mines, where victims often work for months without pay under coercive conditions before being turned over to police for deportation as illegal migrants. Mozambican boys migrate to Eswatini to wash cars, herd livestock, and sell goods; some subsequently become victims of forced labor. Traffickers exploit Mozambican adults and girls in forced labor and sex trafficking abroad, including in Angola, Italy, and Portugal. Informal networks typically comprise Mozambican or South African traffickers. Reports alleged traffickers bribe officials to move victims within the country and across national borders to South Africa and Eswatini. North Korean nationals and Cuban medical professionals working in Mozambique may have been forced to work by the North Korean and Cuban governments.

U.S. Department of State

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