Zambia (Tier 2 Watch List)

The Government of Zambia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. These efforts included increasing investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking crimes; launching the national action plan (NAP) for trafficking in persons and implementing the national referral mechanism (NRM); and increasing screening and identification of trafficking victims among migrant populations. However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, even considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity. The government did not amend the anti-trafficking law to criminalize all forms of child sex trafficking. The government did not approve guidelines for the Anti-Human Trafficking Fund or for shelter operations. Because the government has devoted sufficient resources to a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards, Zambia was granted a waiver per the Trafficking Victims Protection Act from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3. Therefore Zambia remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year.

  • Institutionalize the NRM and train all relevant agencies to proactively identify trafficking victims by screening for trafficking indicators among vulnerable populations, including individuals involved in commercial sex, migrants, former refugees, and workers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and refer all trafficking victims to appropriate services.
  • Expand training for police, immigration officials, prosecutors, and judges on investigating and prosecuting trafficking crimes to increase investigations and prosecutions of alleged traffickers.
  • Amend the anti-trafficking law to define child sex trafficking as not requiring force, fraud, or coercion.
  • Consistently investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes, separate from smuggling cases, and sentence convicted traffickers to adequate penalties.
  • Collaborate with NGOs and international organizations to increase the government’s capacity to provide shelter and protective services to more trafficking victims, including adult males and foreign nationals.
  • Establish a network of interpreters to ensure provision of interpretation services for foreign victims to deliver comprehensive legal and protective services.
  • Appropriately fund the Secretariat on Human Trafficking to increase coordination and capacity across the government.
  • Appoint investigators with specialized training on human trafficking investigation as trafficking in persons focal points in all provinces.
  • Compile and make public information on trafficking cases and trends, separating data regarding smuggling and other crimes.
  • Seek input from survivors of human trafficking and civil society organizations on crafting policies and programs.
  • Implement and consistently enforce strong regulations and oversight of labor recruitment companies, including by eliminating recruitment fees charged to migrant workers and holding fraudulent labor recruiters criminally accountable.

The government maintained 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 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. For the third consecutive year, the government reported that draft amendments to bring the law in line with international standards were awaiting ratification by parliament.

The government initiated 12 trafficking investigations in 2021 and continued eight investigations from 2020, compared with 17 investigations initiated in 2020. The government initiated 16 prosecutions involving 17 defendants and continued four prosecutions involving four defendants, compared with eight prosecutions involving 11 defendants reported in 2020. The government convicted six traffickers in five cases, compared with none in the previous reporting period. Courts acquitted two alleged traffickers in 2021. Due to conflation between migrant smuggling and human trafficking, the government may have prosecuted migrant smuggling crimes under its anti-trafficking law. Law enforcement and the court system did not operate at full capacity during the reporting period due to pandemic-related restrictions imposed by health authorities.

Corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action during the year. The government reported some law enforcement, military, security, and other government officials were complicit in human trafficking crimes. The government investigated two cases of law enforcement and border officers allegedly complicit in human trafficking; however, investigations concluded the cases to be migrant smuggling. In 2019, the government investigated one government official for alleged complicity in forced labor of a child in domestic work, but it did not provide any updates for the second consecutive year. In December 2021, the government settled the final judgement in a Maryland federal court case against a former Zambian World Bank employee and her husband, a Zambian mission member posted in the United States, in a civil lawsuit brought by their former G-5 domestic worker. The court found the couple violated federal and state labor law, and the World Bank employee breached her employment contract.

The government did not implement its plan to direct human trafficking cases to two fast-track human trafficking courts; instead, in Lusaka, the subordinate court appointed two magistrates as trafficking focal points to increase capacity to hear trafficking cases. The government trained all 1,297 newly recruited police officers on human trafficking, focusing on the NRM and the anti-trafficking law. The government, in collaboration with an international organization, provided training for 75 law enforcement officers and immigration officials in the Eastern, Southern, and Western provinces, focused on child trafficking. The government reported collaboration on human trafficking investigations and victim repatriation with the Governments of Egypt, Turkey, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during the reporting period. The Directors General of the Namibian and Zambian Departments of Immigration met to increase future collaboration on human trafficking.

The government increased victim protection efforts. The government identified 42 trafficking victims in 2021, compared with 199 victims identified in 2020, of which 140 were identified in two cases. The government also identified an additional 174 potential trafficking victims. The government reported referring all 216 trafficking victims and potential victims to care, which is comparable with previous years. The Zambia Police Service and Department of Social Welfare (DSW) jointly conducted enforcement operations in brothels where families exploited their children in sex trafficking, resulting in the identification of 85 child victims in the previous reporting period. This case was still under investigation at the end of the reporting period.

The government revised and operationalized its NRM during the reporting period with the assistance of an international organization. When victims were identified, the DSW received victim referrals, conducted assessments, and facilitated victims’ access to services provided by NGOs, international organizations, and the government. While use of the NRM reportedly increased in 2021, some front-line officials and NGOs neglected to use proper procedures to identify and refer victims to care, particularly in rural areas, which resulted in delays for victims obtaining services and benefits, including immigration documentation. The government, in partnership with an international organization, continued to disseminate an updated standard victim identification form to better guide front-line officials in proactively identifying trafficking victims; however, wider dissemination and training on the use of different forms was needed.

The government partnered with NGOs and international organizations to offer routine assistance to both foreign and domestic potential victims, including shelter, basic needs, medical care, counseling, and other protection services. Foreign victims were entitled to the same benefits as Zambian victims. The Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) operated one 40-person shelter in Luapula Province and other shelters in Central and Western Provinces. Shelters were typically designated for survivors of gender-based violence or child abuse but were made available to trafficking victims. Most shelters only assisted women and children, but some accommodated adult male victims of trafficking. Shelters across the country, especially in rural areas outside Lusaka and Copperbelt Provinces, continued to lack training for shelter and victim support officers, resources, and funding, as well as available space, education opportunities, and integration services for victims. The government developed guidelines to operationalize the Anti-Human Trafficking Fund as designated by law; however, the guidelines remained pending approval at the end of the reporting period. With assistance from an international organization, the government developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines for shelters; however, the guidelines awaited final approval by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security (MHA) at the end of the reporting period. The government allocated 282,846 Zambian kwacha ($17,010) to support four government-operated shelters in 2021, the same amount as the previous year.

The government reported it proactively screened detained migrants for trafficking and referred identified victims to care based on the NRM. The government did not report the number of victims identified in immigration detention facilities or if victims were still detained alongside potential traffickers, as in previous years. The government reported children were no longer detained alongside adults in immigration detention facilities. In 2021, 59 victims cooperated with law enforcement on investigations and prosecutions of traffickers, which was not required to access protection services. The government increased opportunities for victim testimony via video or written statements and assisted in protecting victims’ identities. The Department of Immigration (DOI) provided temporary immigration status for all foreign victims in accordance with the 2008 trafficking law, which was dependent on cooperation with law enforcement, and offered a legal alternative to the removal of victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. The government did not report the number of victims who received immigration remedies. Additionally, the pandemic caused logistical difficulties and delays in repatriating victims during the reporting period. The government reported interpretation services were provided free of charge to victims; however, the lack of interpreters available continued to be a barrier to providing timely and comprehensive care for victims. The government did not report any court orders of restitution for trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government provided legal assistance through legal aid organizations for victims, including foreign nationals, through a witness management fund by the National Prosecution Authority.

The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking. The MHA continued to oversee the government’s inter-ministerial National Committee on Human Trafficking, through its Secretariat on Human Trafficking National Office, which met regularly to conduct oversight of national anti-trafficking efforts. The Committee developed and launched a new 2022-2024 NAP on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, coordinated trainings on human trafficking hosted by international organizations, reviewed policy and legislation, and developed and launched NRMs on trafficking in persons, migration, and migrant smuggling. The government committed funding of 50,000 kwacha ($3,001) to the DOI and 390,000 kwacha ($23,450) to the DSW to support implementation of the NAP. The Committee moved the Secretariat from the DOI to a dedicated office in the MHA, as mandated under Zambian law. The Secretariat reported a lack of funding hampered its efforts to effectively collect human trafficking data across agencies and appoint trafficking in persons focal points in each province. The Committee created a subcommittee to develop mechanisms for protecting Zambian workers abroad, and the government signed a bilateral agreement with the Government of Seychelles to prevent potential exploitation of Zambian migrant workers. Pandemic-related restrictions hampered collaboration and awareness raising efforts, but the government adapted by holding virtual meetings and awareness events.

The government contributed in-kind resources to awareness campaigns facilitated by NGOs and international organizations, including public events and TV and radio programs. The government did not operate a hotline specifically for potential victims of trafficking; however, NGO-operated hotlines reported receiving 75 calls related to human trafficking. Of these calls, 15 calls were reported to law enforcement, resulting in three prosecutions and one conviction. The Employment Act set forth requirements for the regulation of labor brokers and prohibited labor brokers from charging prospective employees for any services rendered; however, the act allowed recruiters to charge workers 5 percent from their first wage. The act also required a security bond be paid by recruiters taking Zambian workers out of the country. The Ministry of Labor and Social Services (MOL) continued to regularly conduct inspections and investigations of labor brokers throughout the country to enforce recruitment regulations and prevent fraudulent job offers that may lead to exploitation. The MOL conducted 1,800 labor inspections in 2021, compared to 922 in 2020; however, the government did not report identifying any victims of forced or child labor during these inspections. In 2021, the MOL employed 240 labor inspectors, who were not trained on identifying human trafficking, compared with 154 employed the previous year. In partnership with various stakeholders, the government conducted an assessment in the Eastern Province of Zambia of increased flows of irregular migration, which resulted in a collaborative effort with an international organization to repatriate Ethiopian nationals, including a portion who were identified as trafficking victims. The National Committee on Human Trafficking generated a national report on trafficking in persons for 2020, which remained pending release due to administrative constraints at the end of the reporting period. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government provided pre-deployment training for its diplomatic corps to prevent trafficking in persons, conducted by the Zambia Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies and the Zambia Police Service. Zambian peacekeepers received pre-deployment anti-trafficking training before deployment to UN missions in South Sudan and AU missions in Somalia.

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 children from rural areas remain vulnerable to trafficking. Because of the perceived increase in status, families are enticed to send children to work in cities without verifying conditions. School closures due to the pandemic increased children’s vulnerability to exploitation, including in sex trafficking and forced labor. 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. Traffickers exploit Zambians, including children, from rural areas in the Western province in forced labor on cattle farms in Namibia.

Traffickers exploit women and children from neighboring countries in forced labor and sex trafficking in Zambia, including transiting migrants whose intended destination is South Africa. Zambian women are recruited for domestic servitude in Lebanon and Oman. In recent years, traffickers lure Rwandan women to Zambia with promises of refugee status and coerce them into registering as DRC nationals seeking refugee status in Zambia. They are subsequently exploited in sex trafficking, threatened with physical abuse, and reported to immigration officials for fraudulent refugee claims. Traffickers increasingly exploit victims from Tanzania and Malawi in the Zambian timber industry. PRC nationals bring PRC women and girls to Zambia for sexual exploitation in brothels and massage businesses in Lusaka; traffickers use front companies posing as travel agencies to lure PRC victims and coordinate with Zambian facilitators and middlemen. Indian-Zambian nationals operating in India facilitate 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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