ZAMBIA (Tier 2)

The Government of Zambia 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 with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Zambia was upgraded to Tier 2.  These efforts included amending the anti-trafficking law to criminalize all forms of trafficking and creating a new department to implement the government’s anti-trafficking efforts.  The government increased victim identifications and investigations of alleged traffickers, including complicit officials.  The government mandated use of the NRM for referring trafficking victims to care by law enforcement, immigration officials, and other front-line officers.  The government increased training for law enforcement and front-line officials on victim identification and human trafficking investigations.  The government opened an additional shelter for trafficking victims and increased resources allocated to overall anti-trafficking efforts.  However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.  Due to gaps in awareness of victim identification procedures and lack of resources, the government inappropriately penalized some trafficking victims solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.  Due to conflation between human trafficking and migrant smuggling in the anti-trafficking law, officials sometimes misidentified trafficking crimes.  

  • Ensure victims are not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, especially for immigration violations, engaging in commercial sex, or street vending. 
  • Train front-line officials to proactively identify and refer trafficking victims to appropriate services according to the NRM by screening for trafficking indicators among vulnerable populations, including individuals involved in commercial sex, migrants, refugees, unhoused children, and workers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).  
  • Expand and institutionalize specialized training for police, including human trafficking focal points in police stations, immigration officials, prosecutors, and magistrates on investigating and prosecuting trafficking crimes and differentiating trafficking as separate from migrant smuggling. 
  • Consistently investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes, separate from migrant smuggling cases, particularly trafficking of children in domestic servitude and sex trafficking, and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, which should involve significant prison terms. 
  • Establish a network of interpreters to ensure provision of interpretation services for foreign victims to deliver comprehensive legal and protective services. 
  • Appropriately fund and staff the Department of Anti-Human Trafficking (DAHT) to effectively coordinate and build capacity across the government and with district committees and implement the NAP on trafficking in persons. 
  • Seek input from survivors of human trafficking and civil society organizations on crafting anti-trafficking policies and programs. 
  • Amend the Employment Act to close loopholes that allow recruiters to charge fees to workers and hold fraudulent labor recruiters criminally accountable through enforcement of strong regulations and oversight of labor recruitment companies. 
  • Enhance data collection on trafficking cases and trends, separating data regarding migrant smuggling, illegal adoption, and other crimes. 
  • Amend the anti-trafficking law to distinguish human trafficking crimes from migrant smuggling.

The government increased law enforcement efforts.  The Anti-Trafficking Act of 2008, as amended, criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of 20 years to life imprisonment for offenses involving an adult victim, and 30 years to life imprisonment for those involving a child victim.  These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.  In November 2022, with support from an international organization, the government enacted amendments to the anti-trafficking law which removed the requirement of a demonstration of force, fraud, or coercion to constitute a child sex trafficking offense, thereby bringing the definition of trafficking in line with the international law definition.

The government initiated 42 trafficking investigations in 2022 and continued eight investigations, compared with 12 investigations initiated in 2021.  The government initiated nine prosecutions involving 17 defendants and continued nine prosecutions, compared with initiating 16 prosecutions involving 17 defendants reported in 2021.  The government convicted six traffickers in five cases, which is the same number as 2021.  Courts sentenced convicted traffickers to terms ranging from 10 to 20 years in prison and acquitted one alleged trafficker.  Due to conflation between migrant smuggling and human trafficking, the government may have prosecuted migrant smuggling crimes as human trafficking crimes.  The government’s focus on migrant smuggling and transnational trafficking diverted resources from investigating and prosecuting endemic forms of internal trafficking, such as exploitation of children in domestic servitude, sex trafficking, forced begging, and street vending.  Observers and government officials reported cultural acceptance of child domestic servitude inhibited investigations and prosecutions of such crimes.  Some immigration officers lacked understanding of the definition of human trafficking and expressed difficulty proving the necessary elements for trafficking crimes, hindering efforts to refer potential cases for investigation and prosecution.

Corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action.  The government reported some government officials, including law enforcement, immigration officers, military, security, and other government officials were complicit in human trafficking crimes and reported several cases were under investigation.  For example, the government investigated and prosecuted two government drivers and one police officer for allegedly transporting potential victims for the purpose of human trafficking.

The DAHT, within the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security (MHA), delegated authority to law enforcement officers with specialized anti-trafficking training in the Zambia Police Service (ZPS), Anti-Corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission, and Department of Immigration (DOI) to investigate human trafficking in coordination with DAHT.  ZPS appointed and trained 394 human trafficking focal points in Victim Support Units (VSUs) in all 156 police stations, typically responsible for sex trafficking and child exploitation investigations.  ZPS’s Criminal Investigative Division (CID) investigated trafficking crimes associated with labor or migration but did not maintain human trafficking focal points.  In Lusaka, the subordinate court maintained two magistrates as trafficking focal points to increase capacity to hear trafficking cases.

The government, in partnership with international, regional, and non-governmental organizations, trained more than 500 law enforcement officers, specialized investigators, immigration officials, and protection officers on trafficking victim identification, referrals, and investigations.  The government trained all newly recruited police officers on anti-trafficking policies and victim referral mechanisms in a five-day GBV course.  With support from a foreign government, the DAHT instituted an on-demand, mobile training initiative to provide anti-trafficking training to government officials across the country on an ad hoc basis.  The government reported collaborating on human trafficking investigations and victim repatriation with the Governments of Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during the reporting period.

The government increased victim protection efforts.  The government identified 79 trafficking victims in 2022, compared with 42 victims identified in 2021.  Of the 79 victims identified, traffickers exploited 28 victims in sex trafficking, 32 victims in labor trafficking, and 19 victims for unspecified forms of trafficking; 18 were adult males, 25 were adult females, and 36 were children; 35 were foreign victims.  The government reported referring all victims to care compared with 42 victims referred in the previous reporting period.  The government also identified 1,204 potential trafficking victims, which it reportedly referred to services.  Due to conflation of trafficking with other crimes, victim identification data may have included migrant smuggling cases.  NGOs identified an additional 15 trafficking victims.  NGOs and international organizations intercepted 82 potential trafficking victims through transit monitoring at bus stations and border crossings.  As reported in previous years, child victims continued to be exploited in commercial sex venues, even after reunification with their families, as dire economic circumstances led families to return victims to such establishments.  The government did not report any action taken against the alleged traffickers.

In partnership with an international organization, the government updated the existing NRM and continued to disseminate a standard victim identification form to guide front-line officials on proactive victim identification.  With support from an international organization, the government increased training for front-line officials on the NRM and reported proactively screening detained migrants for trafficking and referring victims to care.  When victims were identified, the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) received victim referrals, conducted assessments, and facilitated victims’ access to services provided by NGOs, international organizations, and the government.  The Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS), in partnership with an international donor, opened a new shelter for trafficking victims, bringing the total number of available shelters for victims to five; however, shelter facilities remained largely unused.  Shelter staff did not permit victims, including adults, to leave unchaperoned.  For child trafficking victims, DSW provided victims care in government-operated orphanages or coordinated with NGO-operated shelters.  Additionally, MCDSS operated one 40-person shelter in Luapula Province and other shelters in Central and Western Provinces; these shelters were commonly designated for survivors of GBV or child abuse but were also available to trafficking victims.  Most shelters only assisted women and children, but some accommodated adult male victims of trafficking.  The government allocated 282,846 kwacha ($15,630) to support five government-operated shelters for trafficking victims, the same as in previous years; this amount was not sufficient to fully staff shelters and provide basic necessities for victims.  Shelter staff continued to lack trauma-informed training, reliable transportation, and sufficient resources.  With assistance from an international organization, the government developed SOPs and guidelines for shelters; however, the guidelines awaited final approval by the MHA for the second consecutive year.  The government partnered with NGOs and international organizations to offer routine assistance to both foreign and domestic victims, including shelter, basic needs, medical care, counseling, repatriation assistance, and other services.  Foreign victims were entitled to the same benefits as Zambian victims.  The government developed guidelines to operationalize the Anti-Human Trafficking Fund as designated by law; however, the guidelines remained pending approval for the second consecutive year.

The newly amended anti-trafficking law included a provision establishing that trafficking victims cannot be held criminally liable for unlawful acts they committed as a “direct or indirect result of being trafficked;” however, observers and government officials reported authorities penalized some trafficking victims for such acts, particularly relating to immigration violations, due to lack of resources, knowledge gaps, and efforts to increase prosecutions.  To ensure victims’ participation in court proceedings, observers and government officials reported law enforcement detained some victims, sometimes requiring victims to testify against their will.  In response to these reports, the government mandated use of its NRM for all front-line officials under jurisdiction of the MHA, including police and immigration, to refer victims to care when identified.  The government did not consistently conduct trafficking screenings for adult migrants who were detained in prisons and deported for immigration violations, which may have included trafficking victims.  The government also did not consistently screen detained unaccompanied migrant children for trafficking, who were ostensibly separated from adults in prisons; however, observers reported lax security did not always enforce the separation requirement.  Government officials expressed difficulty in obtaining interpreters to conduct trafficking screenings for Congolese, Somali, and Ethiopian migrants detained for immigration violations.  Particularly in districts with scarce resources, the government permitted NGOs and representatives from foreign governments to provide legal assistance, interpretation, and advocate on behalf of detained migrants, which may have included potential victims.  The government did not report the number of trafficking victims identified among those detained for immigration violations.

The government did not report the number of victims who cooperated with law enforcement on investigations and prosecutions of traffickers, which was not required to access protection services.  The government provided options for victims to testify via video or written statements, children testified separately from traffickers in Child Friendly Courts, and the government assisted in protecting victims’ identities.  The government provided legal assistance through legal aid organizations for victim-witnesses, including foreign nationals, through a witness management fund by the National Prosecution Authority.  The DOI could provide temporary immigration status to 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; however, the government did not report the number of victims who received immigration remedies 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, particularly outside of Lusaka.  The government did not report any court orders of restitution for trafficking victims during the reporting period.

The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking.  During the reporting period, the government amended its anti-trafficking law to create the DAHT, which co-exists alongside the Secretariat on Human Trafficking, to lead the government’s national anti-trafficking efforts.  The government increased detailed government personnel from ZPS and DOI to the DAHT who were dedicated to anti-trafficking efforts from three to five.  The MHA continued to oversee the government’s inter-ministerial National Committee on Human Trafficking, which advised the DAHT and, with the support of an international organization, met regularly to conduct oversight of national anti-trafficking efforts with support from an international organization.  The National Committee included representatives from agencies across the government and international organizations.  The National Committee launched and implemented its 2022-2024 NAP on human trafficking and migrant smuggling, coordinated trainings on human trafficking hosted by international organizations, and advised on policy and legislation.  The government did not commit funding to the DOI and DSW to support implementation of the NAP, as it did in previous years.  District Committees varied in knowledge of human trafficking, meeting frequency, and collaboration; all lacked dedicated budgets and district offices of government agencies had little funding to spend on anti-trafficking efforts.

The government contributed in-kind resources to awareness campaigns facilitated by NGOs and international organizations, including public events, and TV and radio programs.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in coordination with an international organization and a radio station, launched an awareness raising broadcast that reached more than 2.8 million radio listeners.  Awareness raising materials were available in English and local languages.  The government did not operate a hotline for potential victims of trafficking.  NGO-operated hotlines could receive calls related to human trafficking but did not report receiving any.  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 five percent from their first wage.  The act required a security bond be paid to the government by recruiters taking Zambian workers out of the country to assist workers if needed.  The Ministry of Labor and Social Services 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.  Inspectors did not receive training on trafficking victim identification.  The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex.  The government provided pre-deployment training for its diplomatic corps to prevent human trafficking, conducted by the Zambia Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies and ZPS.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Zambia, and traffickers exploit victims from Zambia abroad.  Traffickers exploit women and children from rural areas in cities in domestic servitude or forced labor in agriculture, textile production, mining, construction, street vending, small businesses such as bakeries, and forced begging.  Because of the perceived increase in status, families are enticed to send children to work in cities without verifying working or living conditions.  Due to the cultural acceptance of children engaging in domestic work, physical and sexual abuse and exploitation in forced labor is rampant and often not identified.  Extended families and trusted family acquaintances facilitate trafficking, including children in domestic servitude.  Traffickers exploit Zambians, including children, from rural areas in Western Province in forced labor on cattle farms and domestic servitude in Namibia.  Zambian children from Central Province and Malawian children escaping domestic servitude or other forms of forced labor in Lusaka are recruited by traffickers with the promise of employment but are forced to beg or engage in street vending.  Traffickers sell addictive substances to children experiencing homelessness, which increases their vulnerability to trafficking and abuse.

Near the Kasumbalesa border crossing into the DRC, families exploit children in sex trafficking through solicitation of truck drivers waiting to cross into the DRC; the children are often rebuffed with violence.  Truck drivers also exploit Zambian boys and girls in sex trafficking in towns along the Zimbabwean and Tanzanian borders, and miners exploit them in Solwezi.  Orphans and children from rural areas remain vulnerable to trafficking.  Jerabo gangs may force Zambian children to engage in illegal mining operations, such as loading stolen copper or crushing rocks.  Traffickers exploit Zambian boys in sex trafficking in Zimbabwe and exploit women and girls in sex trafficking in South Africa.  Unaccompanied children fleeing violence in the DRC are recruited by traffickers in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and often transit alone through Zambia.

Zambian farmers recruit Malawians to work on farms in Eastern and Muchinga Provinces, sometimes transiting as far as Western Province, where they are exploited in forced labor and, reportedly, some have been killed to avoid payment at the end of the growing season.  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.  Traffickers increasingly exploit victims from Tanzania and Malawi in the Zambian timber industry.  PRC nationals bring PRC, Thai, and Vietnamese women and girls to Lusaka and Ndola for sex trafficking in brothels, massage businesses, and casinos, and bring PRC nationals for forced labor in grocery stores and restaurants; 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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