THE United Nations Human Rights Committee has slammed the Namibian government for taking the issue of human trafficking in the country too lightly, saying laws against the crime are not being enforced.
by Theresia Tjihenuna
The condemnation, which was released on Wednesday, comes after the presentation of Namibia’s sixth report on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to the committee in Geneva a few weeks ago.
The committee noted that Namibia’s report was six years late, and expressed concern that despite several reminders, the state had not submitted any follow-up information requested in the committee’s last concluding observations of 2004 which was due for long.
The committee noted that specific anti-trafficking legislation is lacking in Namibia and that the number of prosecutions were too low.
The committee, which based its findings on the reports from Minister of Justice Albert Kawana as well as some NGOs, said government has made insufficient efforts to tackle forced labour, including forced child labour and that the labour inspectorate is underresourced.
“The committee is concerned that women and children are trafficked within the state for the purpose of forced labour and sexual exploitation, including forced prostitution,” reads the report.
“The state should speedily adopt anti-trafficking legislation and ensure that adequate frameworks are in place to identify victims, investigate and persecute all trafficking-related human rights violations and establish comprehensive gender and age-sensitive measure to rehabilitate victims,” it stated.
The committee recommended that government should increase the number of labour inspectors and the resources available to them, particularly vehicles as well as ensure they have full access to private farms.
Justice minister Albert Kawana yesterday dismissed the report as rubbish, saying there is no basis on which the claims that were submitted to the committee by the NGOs were made.
“These are negative reports that were submitted to tarnish the reputation of this good republic,” said Kawana. He said the NGOs that submitted the reports had scores to settle with the ruling party and challenged the critics to present evidence of their claims.
“When I was minister of justice in 2004, we passed the Prevention of Organised Crime Act which also makes provision against human trafficking,” he stated. Kawana said it was not fair that government was being accused of doing nothing about human trafficking when several people have been imprisoned and given heavy sentences for the crime.
Kawana made reference to the child sex trader in Swakopmund Johanna Lukas who was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment on several accounts of human trafficking and rape. He also made reference to the Child Care and Protection Act which was enacted with the sole aim of protecting minors from such acts.
by Theresia Tjihenuna
The Namibian (Namibia)