THE Zambia Law Development Commission says despite the criminalisation of human trafficking in the anti-human trafficking Act, Zambia is a source, transit and destination country for victims of trafficking.
The Act attracts a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.
During the virtual dissemination meeting on the review of the anti-human trafficking Act, ZLDC chairperson Justice Roydah Kaoma said human trafficking was a serious crime and a grave violation of the human rights that are enshrined in the Constitution.
Justice Kaoma said the human rights that were violated as a direct consequence of “this offence” included the right to life, the right to liberty, the right not to be subjected to slavery, servitude, forced labour or bonded labour, the right not to be subjected to torture and or cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment; and the right to freedom of movement.
She said in 2015 the government appointed a technical working group, whose membership included the commission to review laws relating to the protection of vulnerable migrants from trafficking and exploitation.
Justice Kaoma said the project was concluded in May 2016 and culminated in a project report.
She said after the handover of the report, stakeholders expressed the need to carry out a more holistic review of the anti-human trafficking Act to address other difficulties experienced in the implementation of the Act which include, among others, inconsistencies in the provisions of the Act, and non-compliance with relevant international and regional instruments and international best practice.
She said in June 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime requested the ZLDC to conduct a review of the anti-human trafficking Act No. 11 of 2008.
Justice Kaoma said the objectives of the project were to review the Act to recommend the domestication of relevant international and regional instruments on human trafficking; establish whether or not it has lacunae, and if so, to propose suitable provisions; harmonise it with allied legislation; recommend the adoption of regional and international best practices with regards to combating human trafficking; and enhance provisions of the Act so that it is responsive to the needs of society.
She said the commission carried out the project based on its mandate, as provided in the ZLDC Act Chapter 32 of the Laws of Zambia, to recommend the revision and reform of the law in Zambia, and to research and make recommendations on, “the socio-political values of the Zambian people that should be incorporated into legislation; the anomalies that should be eliminated from the statute book; new and more effective methods of administration of the law and the dispensation of justice that should be adopted and legislated; the removal of archaic pieces of legislation from the statute book and new areas of the law that should be developed which are responsive to the changing needs of the Zambian society”.
She said the law review process involved stakeholder consultative meetings, which served as a platform for pertinent stakeholders to share challenges experienced in the implementation of the anti-human trafficking Act, which in turn informed the proposals for legislative amendment.
And home affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo said Zambia was a source country from which victims were recruited, as well as a transit country through which traffickers transport their victims en route to their destination in the region, or other parts of the world.
He said the development of a robust and suitable legal framework meeting both the enforcement and protective needs of all stakeholders was no small task.
Kampyongo however said he was encouraged by what had been done thus far.
“The elimination of human trafficking in Zambia will require concerted effort from all stakeholders. I wish to thank the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for their technical and financial support. I wish to further encourage other stakeholders to continue to work with the ministry in this fight,” Kampyongo said.
He said it was his sincere hope that the findings and recommendations from the law reform process would result in the enhancement of the anti-human trafficking Act as well as the administrative mechanisms to combat human trafficking in Zambia.