22 December 2017

Namibia: Bill to Combat Human Trafficking Passed

Windhoek — The National Council has passed several bills, including the much-debated Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill with amendments. The Bill seeks to give effect to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children.

National Council Chairperson, Margaret Mensah-Williams, yesterday announced that the august house has passed three Bills, which included the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill (Bill Number 14 of 2017); Urban and Regional Planning Bill (Bill Number 13 of 2017) and the Education Amendment Bill (Bill Number 15 of 2017).

She said both the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill and Urban and Regional Planning Bill

were passed with amendments while the Education Bill was passed without amendments.

President Hage Geingob would now sign these three Bills into law at a date yet to be announced.

During the review and debate of the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill, Mensah-Williams said Parliament has an important role to play in ending this shameful practice.

"Human trafficking is a reality that affects many women, children and men in Namibia. I believe that the proposed sentences in the current Bill are too lenient. I also think that there should not be an option of a fine upon the conviction of a human trafficker," she suggested. She said through the review and passing of this Bill, lawmakers will give government the tools it needs to protect and prosecute the criminals who profit from exploiting others.

Furthermore, she noted that when this Bill comes into force, it would serve as a deterrent to perpetrators and make citizens more alert to the problem.

She maintained that Namibia has an obligation to tackle the evil of human trafficking under the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime.

"We need to end this despicable industry and protect, especially the most vulnerable in society," she said.

She urged all members to create awareness on the dangers of human trafficking in their constituencies. Furthermore, she said the National Council would, early next year, embark upon public awareness campaigns on the issue.

According to the International Labour Organisation, there are over 40.3 million people worldwide who have been trafficked into various forms of modern slavery.

It said people were trafficked for a variety of reasons, among others, for sexual exploitation, criminal activities such street crimes and begging, domestic servitude, exploitative labour in beauty salons, restaurants, agriculture and so on. Some also engage in illegal private fostering to benefit from state grants, which it said is another form of slavery.

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