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Government urged to enhance international cooperation to eradicate transnational human trafficking networks

Perseverance Javangwe

Human trafficking has emerged as a grave issue in Zimbabwe and abroad, transcending borders and exploiting vulnerable individuals. To effectively combat this heinous crime, the Zimbabwe government has been urged to forge strong alliances and enhance international cooperation and collaboration. By working together and sharing resources, intelligence, and best practices, with other countries, Zimbabwe can develop a more integrated and coordinated response to dismantle transnational human trafficking networks.

Human trafficking in Zimbabwe has recently become rampant as thousands of women are being lured to other countries such as Oman under the guise of job opportunities while children are thrust into labor.  Zimbabwean women have been moved to countries such as Oman because they are offered a better life. The offers are ‘too good to be true’, and this has led some women to relinquish the few valuable goods they have in order to be able to process the papers to move abroad. Some women go to the extent of borrowing funds to travel to the airport on the assurance that they will lend money back home as soon as they arrive in the promised land of milk and honey.

“Where I work, when I started everything seemed ok because there was another maid from Nigeria but she wanted to return back. As for food, I was allowed to eat anything I like. I spent some days without inquiring about my salary then one day I had to ask how much I was getting paid. My employer informed me that the agent had told him that I should receive 80riyal which is equivalent to USD$200 because he said they used USD$700 for me to travel this side. I am not sure whether it is 700riyal or USD$700, then I said it is ok. I then inquired about the name of the city and country where I was and he said it is Oman in the city of Muscat. I was shocked because my agent said we were going to Dubai. That is when I discovered that we were lied to. I was treated badly, sometimes I would not eat and had to steal food when my bosses were out so that I could suit myself. I worked nonstop for close to 10 hours a day without off days. I was being treated like a slave,” explained one survivor who was brought back to Zimbabwe and cannot be named to protect her identity.

Speaking in an interview with this reporter the Vukarhani Trust Director, Gerald Johnson Shirichena who is one of the rescuers for the victims highlighted the key aspects that are necessary for the government to deal with the issue of transnational human trafficking.

“Improving international cooperation and collaboration is crucial in the fight against transnational human trafficking networks. Here are some strategies that governments can employ to enhance their efforts. Number one strengthening legal frameworks. Governments can review and update their domestic legislation to align with international standards and obligations related to combating human trafficking. This includes harmonizing definitions, protocols, and procedures across borders, enabling effective international cooperation. Secondly ratifying and implementing International Conventions, governments should ratify the fully implemented relevant international convention, and the protocols such as the United Nations Convention against transnational organized crime, and its protocol to suppress, prevent or punish trafficking in persons, which is known as the Palermo protocol. Increased adherence to these instruments, strengthens global cooperation and provides a unified legal framework.

“Third there is a need to establish Joint Task Forces and platforms, and this is crucial. The government can establish joint task forces with other nations involved in combating human trafficking. These tax forces enable coordinated efforts, exchange of information, and joint operations to disrupt transnational trafficking networks. Additionally, international platforms can be created to facilitate information sharing best practices, and the coordination among countries,” he said.

“The other point has to do with improving data sharing and analysis. Governments should establish mechanisms for sharing trafficking-related data among relevant agencies, domestically and internationally. This enables the development of comprehensive risk assessments in the identification of trafficking trends and more targeted and effective interventions. Data sharing can be facilitated through secure information exchange platforms and protocols.

“There is also a need to engage in diplomatic outreach. The government of Zimbabwe should actively engage in bilateral and mouth trilateral diplomacy to promote dialogue, information exchange, and joint initiatives with countries affected by human trafficking, and regular high-level meetings, and conferences. And working groups on the issue can foster closer cooperation and facilitate the development of joint action plans. In addition to this, there is a need to allocate adequate resources. Governments should strive to allocate sufficient resources to anti-trafficking efforts including funding for prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution, and the Victim Support Services, adequate investment and enable the implementation of effective policies and programs, as well as the maintenance of robust international cooperation mechanisms

“Encouraging public-private partnerships, the government can force the partnership with civil society organization, and private sector entities in the international organization to leverage the expertise resources in the networks in combating human trafficking. Such collaborations enhance the capacity for prevention, protection, and prosecution efforts. By implementing these strategies, the government can strengthen international cooperation in collaboration in combating transnational human trafficking networks, making significant progress in protecting the rights and the well-being of trafficking victims while ensuring the prosecution of perpetrators,” said Shirichena

Human trafficking is a heinous global crime that affects people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds. Anyone can fall victim. Traffickers are using fraudulent employment agencies and fake promises of job opportunities, and education to trick and deceive victims. The criminals who engage in trafficking range from organized criminal groups to individuals operating on their own in small groups on an opportunistic basis.

Social commentator, Brian Matare said Zimbabwe cannot deal with transnational human trafficking alone. He stated that there is a need for collective effort with other countries in sharing ideas, technology, resources, and expertise to deal with such an issue.

“…for such, there is no single country or even a law enforcement agency that boasts of the power, or the means to tackle this global crime. There is a need for countries to communicate effectively, sharing intelligence and combining resources. When governments collaborate, and when law enforcement agencies around the globe all come together they we can truly build effective strategies to anticipate, combat, and place an end to these crimes,” he said.

Transnational human trafficking networks pose a significant threat across borders, necessitating robust international cooperation. The government of Zimbabwe can strengthen collaboration with other countries by harmonizing legal frameworks, promoting information sharing, enhancing cross-border collaboration, bolstering law enforcement capacities, supporting victim protection and assistance, and engaging civil society and NGOs. Only by working hand in hand with other countries can the government of Zimbabwe dismantle criminal networks and protect the rights and dignity of vulnerable individuals affected by human trafficking.

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