The government made uneven protection efforts and did not report on its protection efforts. Media and an international organization reported the government identified 83 trafficking victims in two cases compared with identifying seven victims in 2021. Of the 83 victims identified, the government collaborated with international organizations to identify and repatriate 35 Namibian women exploited in domestic servitude in Oman and identified 48 foreign male labor trafficking victims on a fishing vessel. The government did not report the total number of victims referred to care. However, following identification on a fishing vessel, the government referred 40 foreign victims to services in provisional facilities; these victims did not have a choice in entering the shelter and were not permitted to leave. Authorities inappropriately penalized victims of trafficking for immigration offenses committed as a direct result of being trafficked. According to reports, the government arrested approximately 32 Bangladeshis who were identified by law enforcement as potential trafficking victims; eight of the potential victims were fined and deported for immigration violations and the remaining 24 potential victims were still detained in detention centers at the end of the reporting period. NGOs and international organizations intercepted 1,168 potential victims of trafficking through transit monitoring at airports and border crossings.
The government had SOPs for victim identification and an NRM for referral and provision of services, although implementation efforts were not reported. As reported in previous years, police and immigration officials used anti-trafficking pocket manuals outlining the SOPs and NRM. Observers continued to report some government and civil society front-line responders lacked awareness of and did not fully understand their roles within the SOPs and NRM. In practice, labor inspectors and immigration officials contacted the Namibian Police Force (NAMPOL) when they identified a potential trafficking victim; however, the government did not report any referrals from labor inspectors or immigration officials during the reporting period.
The government and NGOs could jointly provide shelter, psycho-social services, medical care, and provision of other basic needs to victims of trafficking, GBV, and child abuse. The government previously reported it opened eight government-operated shelters available to trafficking victims; however, the shelters were not operationalized during the reporting period. Three NGO shelters could provide care for men, women, and children, although observers noted it was sometimes difficult to find shelter for male victims. The government did not report allocating any funding for the three NGO shelters, compared with allocating 6 million Namibian dollars ($354,020) in the previous reporting period. The government could place child victims in government-operated residential childcare facilities and provide access to education. Foreign victims had access to the same shelter and services as domestic victims. Government and NGO shelter staff did not permit victims, including adults, freedom of movement. Seventeen GBV Protection Units nationwide offered initial psycho-social, legal, and medical support to victims of crime, in coordination with the police, the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication, and Child Welfare (MGEPECW), the Ministry of Health and Social Services, and NGOs. Adult victims could seek employment and work while receiving assistance, although the government did not report if any victims did so during the reporting period.
The government did not report if any victims identified voluntarily assisted law enforcement with investigations and prosecutions, as in previous reporting periods. Authorities did not condition access to victim services on cooperation with law enforcement; the government could provide legal aid, transportation, and witness protection to victims. The government could also assign victim advocates to victims testifying and allowed victims to testify in rooms separate from the courtroom when such rooms were available. Foreign victims could obtain temporary residence visas during legal proceedings, but the government did not report if any foreign victims received visas during the reporting period. The law allowed victims to obtain restitution and file civil suits against their traffickers; however, no victims to date have received restitution or compensation. The government did not report screening vulnerable populations – including irregular migrants, refugees, and individuals in commercial sex – for trafficking indicators, as in previous reporting periods, and some trafficking victims may have remained unidentified within the law enforcement system.