Cablegate: Zimbabwe - Trafficking in Persons Report 2003 -
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 HARARE 000356
DEPT FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, IWI, AF/RSA, USAID
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB PGOV PINR ZI TIP
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE - TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT 2003 -
REF: A. SECSTATE 27013
B. 2003 SECSTATE 338722
1. Overview of Zimbabwe's Activities
to Eliminate Trafficking in Persons:
A. There continued to be infrequent anecdotal reports that
Zimbabwe was a country of origin and transit for
internationally trafficked persons, particularly women and
children. Save the Children Foundation - Norway (SCFN), a
local NGO, interviewed children, commercial sex workers,
money changers, truck drivers, immigration officials and
others in the border town of Beitbridge and identified five
unnamed Zimbabweans who may have been victims of trafficking.
Although the report is entitled, "Unearthing the Phenomenon
of Child Trafficking in Zimbabwe", the SCFN report did not
identify the ages of some victims or the circumstances of
their work conditions--leaving questions unanswered about
whether any interviewee had actually been trafficked. There
were anecdotal reports that girls trafficked from Malawi to
South Africa sometimes transited through Zimbabwe. All of
the NGO and law enforcement officials interviewed for this
report said that there are no reliable statistics on the
extent of trafficking in the country. While no clear cases
were identified, there were a handful of anecdotal reports
that Zimbabwean girls from poor families and occasionally
boys were the victims of trafficking.
B. There were anecdotal reports that victims were trafficked
from all over Zimbabwe to the border towns, Beitbridge,
Plumtree, and Forbes, as well as into South Africa.
C. Unlike in previous years, there were no reports that
Zimbabwe was a transit country for persons trafficked from
Asia, Mozambique or Zambia.
D. SCFN issued a report on trafficking in August 2003 that
focused on Beitbridge. SCFN intends to carry out similar
research in the border towns of Plumtree and Forbes and
compile the combined research into a single report later in
2004. These reports are not expected to be quantitative, and
there are no surveys underway or planned to document the
E. There were no reports that Zimbabwe was a destination
point for internationally trafficked victims.
According to the SCFN report, motivated by the promise of
paid work, Zimbabwean girls would leave their homes and hitch
rides to Beitbridge and occasionally into South Africa with
truck drivers paying them by engaging in sex with them. The
girls would eventually either hitch rides back to their home
areas, also using sex for payment, or stay in Beitbridge and
work as commercial sex workers in brothels or independently,
or work as commercial sex workers, domestic servants, or
street vendors in South Africa.
Boys seeking employment also would hitch rides to Beitbridge
with truck drivers, pay for the ride with borrowed money, pay
smugglers to get them across the border into South Africa,
and make their way to farms and cities in South Africa. In
two cases, boys reported that they sprayed and picked oranges
with no protection from pesticides. The report also said
that boys work in construction, sell scrap metal sales, work
at car washes, or work as street vendors in South Africa.
SCFN reported that while the children were in South Africa
they frequently lived as vagrants or squatters.
SCFN reported that both boys and girls were occasionally and
sometimes frequently deported back to Zimbabwe under
deplorable conditions in packed trucks, trains and holding
cells in South Africa. The victims were usually dropped off
in Beitbridge and most found their way back to South Africa
of their own volition. South African police reportedly
threatened to shoot, and sometimes did beat some of the male
deportees. In attempting to return to South Africa on foot,
boys would usually pay smugglers in cash, while girls would
often engage in sex with smugglers to secure passage.
F. The anecdotal reports suggested that female teenagers were
the most common victims of trafficking. There were no
reports that any were coerced into leaving their homes. The
traffickers were truck drivers and smugglers who simply
facilitated a border crossing whether or not the victims had
passports, visas or other identity documents.
G. Officials in the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Ministry
of Justice, Magistrates and Immigration officials have
identified trafficking as a potential problem and expressed
interest in responding, but they had no data on the problem
for which to design a specific response, and were relying on
NGOs to help alert them to any particular cases.
During the year, immigration and police officials attended
SCFN-sponsored workshops in Beitbridge and Harare to raise
awareness of the problem. Police officials subsequently
requested from SCFN copies of a training manual to teach
police officers to recognize and respond to trafficking.
Police officials met regularly with the Interpol local and
regional offices, and with police from the region to discuss
combating trafficking, among other things. The Director of
Immigration pledged his support and participation in the
study that SCFN undertook, and police and immigration
officials in Beitbridge helped to facilitate SCFN's research.
Police officials investigated allegations that women from
Manicaland had been trafficked abroad and had returned. The
alleged victims, however, denied that they had been coerced
and that they were involved in prostitution. In January
2004, the Zimbabwe Home Affairs Minister announced a
crackdown on corruption at border posts after some Revenue
Authority officials were prosecuted for taking bribes. The
Ministries of Justice, Education, Social Welfare and Home
Affairs, and the ZRP and NGOs participate in an ongoing
education and advocacy program coordinated by SCFN to combat
child sexual abuse. In August 2001, Parliament passed and
signed into law the Sexual Offenses Act, which makes it a
crime to transport persons across the country's borders for
the sex industry. Traffickers also can be prosecuted under
other legislation, such as immigration and abduction laws.
The Victim Friendly Courts (VFCs) were specifically created
in 1997 to accommodate children and sexual offenses victims.
A trafficked person has the option to take his or her case
before the VFC.
H. There was no indication that government authorities
facilitated, were complicit in, or condoned trafficking in
I. While the government seemed willing to consider the
problem, in the current economic downturn, there were very
limited government resources to gather comprehensive data on,
or respond to anecdotal reports of trafficking. Corruption
among border officials and police was generally considered to
be modest but rising.
J. The government does not have a specific anti-trafficking
program in place apart from general law enforcement, the
court system, border control and social welfare programs.
K. Prostitution is illegal in Zimbabwe, and the activities of
prostitutes, brothel owners/operators are criminalized.
L. There were no reports that the practice of buying or
selling child brides (brides under the age of 18 years)
occurred in the country.
A. The GOZ recognized that trafficking in persons might
exist, but lacked specific data and did not formulate a
specific program to address the issue.
B. The primary government authority that would combat
trafficking is the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), including
the Criminal Investigations Unit (CID). The Ministry of
Justice, including Magistrates and VFCs; the Ministry of Home
Affairs, including the Department of Immigration; the
Ministry of Social Welfare; and the Ministry of Education
would also combat trafficking.
C. The Ministries of Justice, Education, Social Welfare and
Home Affairs, and the ZRP and NGOs participate in an ongoing
education and advocacy program coordinated by SCFN to combat
child sexual abuse. At the invitation of SCFN the Chief
Immigration Officer, other immigration officials, and
officials from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of
Education, Ministry of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Home
Affairs, and the ZRP as well as other NGOs attended a
stakeholders meeting in Harare in 2003 to discuss the problem
of trafficking as it affected Zimbabwe. In September 2002,
the Child and Law Foundation of Zimbabwe held an
international conference entitled, "Protecting the Sexuality
of our Children - Southern Africa Regional Meeting" in
Harare. A High Court judge opened the conference, and
representatives from the Ministry of Justice including a
Magistrate, the Ministry of Education, and the Department of
Social Welfare also attended. The South African NGO Molo
Songololo presented research methodologies for data gathering
on sexual exploitation. Participants at both meetings
acknowledged that research on any trafficking that might be
occurring in Zimbabwe was necessary.
D. The GOZ supports programs that promote the rights of and
opportunities for women and children. The Ministry of Social
Welfare in particular runs three programs focused on enabling
children to stay in school.
E. The GOZ suffers from a lack of resources to effectively
support research and prevention programs.
F. The GOZ and civil society groups cooperate openly and
communicate regularly on the issue of trafficking.
G. There are checkpoints along all of Zimbabwe's major
international border crossings. The Department of
Immigration attempts to monitor for trafficking. No concrete
evidence of trafficking has been uncovered by government
authorities, or has been presented to police or immigration
H. The GOZ lacks a special coordination mechanism between GOZ
agencies for trafficking, an anti-trafficking task force, or
a public corruption task force.
I. See 1. G. and 2. C.
J. The GOZ does not have a national plan to address
trafficking in persons.
K. While various officials are open to the issue of
trafficking and have pledged to combat it, the GOZ has not
designated anyone to develop anti-trafficking programs.
3. INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS:
A. While no laws specifically address trafficking in persons,
common law prohibits abduction and forced labor, and the
August 2001 Sexual Offenses Act makes it a crime to transport
persons across the border for sex.
The Zimbabwe constitution provides that "no one may be held
in slavery or servitude or be made to perform forced or
The Zimbabwe Criminal Code prohibits corruption of children
and young persons, and penalizes any person who allows a
child or a young person to reside in or to frequent a
brothel. Similarly, the code penalizes any person who causes
the seduction, abduction, or prostitution of a child or young
person. The code prohibits allowing the child or young
person to consort with, enter into employment, or continue in
the employment of any prostitute or person of known immoral
character. Punishment for these offenses is a fine or
imprisonment for up to 2 years or both.
The Zimbabwean Immigration Act penalizes any person who by
bribery induces or attempts to induce any immigration officer
to violate his or her duties under the Act. The Act
criminalizes forgery of travel documents for the purposes of
entering, remaining in, or departing from the country in
contravention of the act. The Act penalizes anyone who
hinders or obstructs any police officer or immigration
officer in executing his or her duties under the Act.
B. There is no penalty specific to trafficking at this time.
C. There is no minimum penalty for rape or forcible sexual
assault. Individuals convicted of one of these crimes must
be imprisoned, but precedent determines the length of
incarceration. Sentences for rape convictions typically
range from four to fifteen years, depending on the
circumstances of the crime.
D. The GOZ has not prosecuted any cases of trafficking to
E. There were no reports that any organized groups coerced
victims into forced labor or prostitution in Zimbabwe. The
SCFN report also found no evidence of abduction and
attributed children's migration to escape from economic
hardship. There were no reports that government officials
were involved in trafficking. Truckers, migrant smugglers,
and brothel owners were involved in trafficking; see 1. E.
F. The ZRP actively investigated allegations of trafficking;
see 1. G.
G. Police officers and immigration officials attended
meetings and workshops sponsored by SCFN aimed at recognizing
and investigating trafficking, and police later sought
training materials from SCFN with the intention of providing
training to other officers on these issues; see 1. G.
H. No specific cases of trafficking were confirmed. Police
interacted with regional police bodies on various regional
law enforcement issues including trafficking. Zimbabwean
police cooperated with South African police to curb
Zimbabwean migrant smuggling to South Africa.
I. There were no reports of extradition from Zimbabwe of
those charged with trafficking in other countries. There
were no reported cases of Zimbabweans charged with
trafficking in other countries. The government has
extradition treaties with many countries in the region.
J. There was no indication of government involvement in, or
tolerance of trafficking at any level.
K. See 3. J.
L. The GOZ ratified ILO Convention 182 on December 11, 2000,
Conventions 29 and 105 on August 27, 1998. The GOZ has not
signed or ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on
the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child
Prostitution, and Child Pornography. The GOZ has not signed
or ratified the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish
Trafficking in Persons.
4. PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS:
A. No specific victims of trafficking were identified.
Zimbabwe has a public health care system but it was strained
for adequate resources for equipment, medications, and
medical staff salaries. In cooperation with the GOZ, a local
NGO (with USAID funding) provided HIV/AIDS testing and
counseling at clinics nationwide for a nominal fee.
B. No specific victims of trafficking were identified.
C. See 4. B.
D. See 4. B.
E. See 4. B.
F. No specific victims of trafficking were identified,
however, within the VFCs the perpetrator is not supposed to
see or hear the victim during court proceedings.
G. No specific victims of trafficking were identified.
Government officials attended training sessions, and sought
out training materials from SCFN on responding to
trafficking; see 1. G.
H. See 4. B.
I. No NGOs reported working with trafficking victims.
5. Post point of contact for Trafficking in Persons until
June is FS 03 Political Officer Audu Besmer, or after June,
Bianca Menendez (office phone 263-4-250-593 extension 291;
fax 263-4-253-000, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or
email@example.com). The estimated hours spent per officer
in preparation of this report are as follows: Polfsn 2
hours, Poloff 25 hours, Polchief 0.5 hour review, DCM 0.5
hour review, AMB 0.5 hour review.