15 November 2013

Swaziland: King Exploits Forced Child Labour

Children in Swaziland are being used as forced labour to tend the fields of King Mswati III, an international report on human trafficking says.

Chiefs in rural areas who represent the monarch, 'may coerce children and adults--through threats and intimidation--to work for the king,' the report from the US State Department reveals.

The report also says, 'Swazi girls, particularly orphans, are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude in the cities of Mbabane and Manzini, as well as in South Africa, Mozambique, and the United States.'

The Trafficking in Persons Report 2013 also reveals, 'Swazi men in border communities are also recruited for forced labor in South Africa's timber industry.

'Some Swazi women are forced into prostitution in South Africa and Mozambique after voluntarily migrating in search of work. Traffickers reportedly force Mozambican women into prostitution in Swaziland, or transit Swaziland with their victims en route to South Africa.

'Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland for work washing cars, herding livestock, and portering; some of these boys subsequently become victims of forced labor.'

The report says, 'Swazi boys and foreign children are forced to labor in commercial agriculture and market vending within the country.'

The report says, The Government of Swaziland does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.'

It adds, 'Moreover, the government failed to train any of its officials, including law enforcement personnel, on existing legislation and indicators for victim identification, which stymied investigations and prosecutions.'

It says, 'For a second consecutive year, the government did not increase its protection efforts as it failed to ensure adequate assistance to and secure accommodation for trafficking victims.'

The report shows little has changed in Swaziland in human trafficking. In 2009 the US State Department reported that women and children in the kingdom were bought and sold for sex, domestic servitude and forced labour.

Mbabane and Manzini were again identified as the centres of trafficking of girls, particularly orphans, for sex. Swazi boys were trafficked for forced labour in commercial agriculture and market vending. Some Swazi women were forced into prostitution in South Africa and Mozambique after voluntarily travelling to these countries in search of work.

In 2009, the The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) reported that a form of serfdom existed in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch. The report said Swazis were forced to work without pay on projects determined by local chiefs (who are appointed by the king). These included agricultural work, soil erosion and construction and maintenance.

Swazis, seven in ten who live in abject poverty and earn less than two US dollars a day, are forced to work under the Swazi Administration Order, No. 6 of 1998, which makes it a duty of Swazis to obey orders and participate in compulsory works; participation is enforceable with severe penalties for those who refuse.

Last month (October 2013) it was reported there were an estimated 1,302 people living in slavery in Swaziland.

The report called the Global Slavery Index 2013 and published by the Walk Free Foundation stated, 'Modern slavery includes slavery, slavery-like practices (such as debt bondage, forced marriage, and sale or exploitation of children), human trafficking and forced labour.'

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