25/11/2012 – Urgent Call from ACDP for Government to pass “Human Trafficking” Bill on eve of 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM

 

ACDP National

Hon. Jo-Ann Downs, KZN MPL, National Chairman

24 November 2012

 

URGENT CALL FROM ACDP FOR GOVERNMENT TO PASS HUMAN TRAFFICKING BILL ON EVE OF 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM

Party launches Vikiela (isiZulu: Protect) movement to heighten plight of human suffering among SA’s citizens

Johannesburg, November 24, 2012 – The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) has called on its members and the citizens of South Africa to embark on what it is calling the Vikiela (isiZulu Protect) movement on the eve of 16 days of Activism. Tomorrow, November 25th, marks the International Day for Prevention of Violence Against Women, followed by the 16 days of Activism, which includes World Aids Day on December 1.

The Vikiela movement will highlight 16 different issues during the 16 Days of Activism, all of which have to be addressed in order to combat violence against women and children. The first of these is Human Trafficking: Systematic Kidnapping and enslavement, Bought and Sold Rape and Slave labour, which is internationally recognised as a crime against humanity.

“We as a party are very concerned about delays in the passing of Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill. Since the start, the ACDP has been at the forefront of pushing for the finalization of this bill, recognizing it as a much needed piece of legislation,” said Jo Ann Down, ACDP member of the KZN legislature and Chairman of the NEC.

Although proposed over five years ago, Parliament’s Justice Committee passed the bill only on June 05, 2012. Adv. Steve Swart (ACDP MP) has been pushing for bill to be passed as a matter of urgency. It has now been passed by the National Assembly, but still has to be passed into Law by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

South Africa is not perceived as being compliant with the minimum standards for elimination of human trafficking according to the international community.

“This is shameful. What’s more, according to the HSRC, South Africa is not even collecting basic level data on this crime. Currently, prosecutions in respect of trafficking are done indirectly through racketeering or organized crime laws, as there are no specific laws to deal with trafficking,” Downs said.

In 2007 and 2008, South Africa was criticized for its lack of data, investigation, prosecution and applicable laws with regard to this modern form of slavery. It was placed on the US Department of State’s Tier 2 Watchlist for this crime for four consecutive years (2004-2008).

Once finalized, the bill will cover criminalization of various aspects of trafficking with an international scope to try such offences. Any person/group, who makes any form of profit, or uses the services of trafficked persons will be prosecuted.

This includes provision of services, transport, kidnapping, electronic sources used, network providers and other steps in the chain of trafficking.

“This Bill is important because it also criminalises the failure to report instances of trafficking in persons, including cases where parents or guardians have been accomplices or perpetrators of these crimes. The bill also insists on aftercare for victims and allows for them to receive compensation,” Down says.

“The ACDP insists that the National Council of Provinces expedite this legislation as a matter of urgency. Our people are being sold into slavery that destroys their hope of a better future,”

As trafficking is not technically even recognized as a crime in South Africa itself, there are no statistics available to even quantify this issue, apart from those released internationally. Anecdotal evidence suggests that South Africa is a source, intermediary and destination of trafficking in persons inclusive of various nationalities.

Thirty million people are estimated to be in slavery and 1.2-million children are trafficked annually, often being sold into the sex trade.

The UN estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa is responsible for 5.2% of forced labour sourced from trafficking and accounting for $1.6-billion US dollars. As those who are trafficked are often from rural/impoverished regions, their disappearance often goes uninvestigated, parents and guardians are complicit in the sale of their children, or they are used to service debts to gang members and therefore never reported.

“This is an invisible crime, where slaves are kept behind lock and key, unable to interact with the outside world,” Downs says.

“Poverty and inequality are some of the complicit issues that need to be addressed, as well as corrupt officials, broken border fences, lack of investigation by the police and the judicial system. Societal beliefs in South Africa that reduce women and children to forms of property also need to be tacked with urgency,” she added.

She called on the SAPS to establish a specialized task team to investigate and prosecute those involved in the chain of trafficking.

Mrs Downs also applauded the Salvation Army which has set up an Anti-Trafficking hotline in South Africa through its Anti-Trafficking Task Team. The number is 0800-073728 and can be used to report suspicious activity.

After many years of being a victim of the slave trade, the ACDP calls on South Africans to make sure this crime against humanity is abolished.

 

Adv. Steve Swart (ACDP MP) with demonstrators outside Parliament earlier in 2012, urging government to pass the “Trafficking in Persons” Bill. Adv. Swart has been very active in pushing for the Bill to be passed, as a member of the Justice Portfolio committee. He has also been raising awareness through various speaking opportunities.

 

/ends.

Issued on behalf of: The African Christian Democratic Party

Issued by: Pleiades Media

Media contact: Kerry Botha

Tel. No.: 083 263 0644

Email: kerry@pleiades.co.za

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