8 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Human Trafficking Bill Gazetted

Government gazetted the Trafficking in Persons Bill yesterday that seeks to domesticate the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially of women and children.The Bill now awaits to be tabled before Parliament for debate.

The Bill would provide for the prohibition, prevention and prosecution of the crime of trafficking in persons and the protection of victims.

It also seeks to appoint a committee on trafficking in persons with a mandate to formulate and implement a national plan of action against trafficking in persons.

There is also provision of an enabling framework for establishment and operation of centres for victims of trafficking.

Clause three of the Bill creates the crime of trafficking in persons and specifies certain instances in which the offence is to be considered as committed in aggravating circumstances.

"Penalties for the crime will vary in gravity depending on whether the accused person is the actual trafficker himself or herself, or simply an associate or assistant to the trafficker," reads the preamble to the Bill.

In the first case a mandatory sentence of 10 years' imprisonment without an option of a fine is legislated. In the other case, the courts are given a broader discretion to impose fines, imprisonment or both.

"However, an associate or assistant to a trafficker will also be liable to the mandatory sentence of 10 years' imprisonment if he or she is aware of the existence of certain aggravating features of the crime in the course of its commission," reads the Bill.

Clause four provides for the powers of law enforcement agents that include the police, customs and immigration officers to question, search and detain persons entering or leaving Zimbabwe as well as seize property of suspected persons where there exists a reasonable suspicion that the crime of trafficking in persons is being or is about to be committed.

Clause five provides for protection of victims in connection with the prosecution of traffickers under the Bill.

The sixth clause empowers the courts to order the confiscation of all proceeds derived from or property used in connection with trafficking.

Clause eight provides for the establishment of centres for victims of trafficking in persons and for the programmes that might be offered to them.

Meanwhile, scores of people are today expected to throng Rugare suburb in Harare and hold a march in commemoration of the death of Stacy Munjoma, a 10-year-old girl who was raped and brutally murdered last year.

The march, which is being organised by Tambanewako Community Association (TCA) in Rugare, will be part of the International Women's Day commemorations, where several women's organisations like Musasa Project are expected to attend.

TCA secretary Mr Robert Bhamu said the march was meant to raise awareness on the dangers of crime and create a safe environment for children and women in Zimbabwe.

"As an association that has its people in mind and heart, we would want to commemorate with various stakeholders the life of Stacy Munjoma who was taken away from us in a way that left the community in shock and fear at the same time," he said.

"Our hope is to make Rugare and Zimbabwe a safe place for children and all of us. We are having a procession from Kambuzuma where she was coming from to Rugare," said Mr Bhamu.

He urged participants to bring a flower and a banner with a memorial message that carries a message to the community on fighting crime.

Stacy's grandmother, Ms Rosemary Musa, said she was yet to come to terms with the death of her granddaughter saying the man who killed Stacy must be brought to book.

"We are still pained by her death, and we still can't believe how someone could be so callous and brutally murder such a young and defenceless child," she said.

"We are glad that there are some people who remember us and are joining hands in commemorating her death. Maybe after this march then our justice system can push for this case to go further to the trial stage."

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