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Trafficking in Persons National Policy Framework Launched

April 29, 2019

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

29 April 2019

The Prevention and Combatting of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) National Policy Framework has been launched.

Speaking at the launch, the deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, John Jeffery, emphasised that a comprehensive National Policy Framework on TIP is “necessary to foster a shared understanding of the phenomenon and to provide a coordinated response among different stakeholders”.

The TIP Policy Framework flows from the Prevention and Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act, signed in 2013 and coming into effect, apart from sections 15, 16 and 31(2)(b)(ii), in 2015.

The act seeks to give effect to South Africa’s obligations as set out in various international agreements such as the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons.

The Protocol places particular emphasis on women and children.

The legislation brought South African law into line with international standards.

It calls for public awareness campaigns to be put in place designed to prevent and combat human trafficking. Human trafficking became a criminal offence.

The act also put appropriate punitive measures in place. Forcing people into debt bondage is also viewed as a criminal act. Clause seven makes it an offence to use the services of victims of trafficking. Trafficking is described as an international crime.

Carriers transporting people across South Africa’s borders will be guilty of an offence if the victims do not possess valid travel documentation. All individuals that come into contact with people suspected of being trafficked are obliged to report it to the police.

The act also prohibits the prosecution of victims of trafficking. The hope is that victims will act against traffickers as witnesses.

Internet service providers are also required to take whatever measures possible to prevent their services from being used to facilitate human trafficking. Internet addresses involved in trafficking must be reported to the police.

Local courts will have jurisdiction over trafficking cases that occur in other countries.

The law prohibiting the disclosure of personal information fell away in the case of children suspected of being victims of traffickers. Everyone is required to report such incidences to the relevant authorities. Those who do not will be criminally liable.

The act also allows for those convicted of trafficking to be forced to pay compensation to a victim for damages, injuries, both physical and psychological and loss of income, amongst others.

In his speech, the deputy minister indicated that the act together with the Policy Framework will contribute towards the “much needed systemic response”.

Jeffery added that a National Intersectoral Committee on Trafficking in Persons consisting of departmental representatives from, amongst others, Justice and Constitutional Development, Health, Home Affairs, International Relations and Cooperation, Labour, Social Development, Women, the SAPS, the NPA as well as civil society organizations had been set up.

Provincial Task Teams on Trafficking in Persons and Provincial Rapid Response Teams focused on operational matters relating to suspected complaints and pending cases of trafficking in persons and providing support to victims were also established.

A generic training manual on the TIP Act is also in the pipeline.

In a nutshell, the deputy minister pointed out that the Policy Framework intends to “support the implementation of the Act to ensure that the criminal justice system is effective in prosecuting criminals, protecting the victims of trafficking and promoting a cooperative and aligned response among all government departments, as well as with civil society organisations engaged in assisting and supporting trafficked persons”.

Mention was also made of the new TIP Data Tool designed to collect data and focus on “important questions such as, for example, the total number of trafficking victims (suspected and/or confirmed) identified by government during a specific reporting period, as well as an indication of the form of trafficking and the details – sex, age, nationality – of the victims and the perpetrators”.

According to the deputy minister, the Policy Framework will be tabled in parliament and published in the Government Gazette within two months of tabling.

Meanwhile, the department has published its Language Policy in Gazette 42422 in terms of the Use of Official Languages Act.

The Policy will be implemented incrementally as from 1 August 2019.

It sets out the use of official languages and their promotion, regulation and monitoring within the department.

English is set down as the language of record with Sesotho, Afrikaans and isiZulu added as languages of official use.

In Gazette 42420, the department announced the establishment of a local seat of the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court of South Africa with its seat at the old Magistrate’s Court building in Middelburg with effect from 1 May 2019.

In a separate matter, in Gazette 42417, the department has increased the area of jurisdiction of the Nerina One -Stop Child Justice Centre in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage.