A new data tool is expected to collate more accurate data relating to human trafficking, which will help in the fight against the scourge, Deputy Minister of the Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery announced on Thursday.
During the launch of the new Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons National Policy Framework (NPF) in Pretoria, Jeffery said the need for reliable data has often been raised, and the new data tool is the answer.
The data tool, developed by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Department of Justice aims to collect data and focuses on important questions relating to human trafficking.
"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," Jeffery said.
Other questions the data tool asks include:
- How many victims were identified during the reporting period by NGOs or other non-governmental entities?
- Of these, how many victims did the government refer to care facilities for assistance? How many victims were assisted during the reporting period?"
The deputy minister said these are just some of the details that need to be known in order to adequately combat trafficking in persons (TIP).
"The data tool tells us about the methods of trafficking, in that the majority of victims detected were in smuggling cases from countries of origin which turned into trafficking during the journey to South Africa or at destination."
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Although data on all forms of trafficking in South Africa is scarce, Jeffery did say that in 2018, there were eight cases with successful convictions of perpetrators for trafficking in persons-related offences.
"These cases involved 14 accused persons and the sentences included, among others, eight life sentences and a sentence of 18 years imprisonment."
Quoting an international statistic, Jeffery said in respect of sex trafficking alone, the International Labour Organisation estimates that there are 4.8 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally.
Forms of trafficking
Jeffery also spoke about the types of human trafficking, saying that the new NPF will help direct South Africa's efforts at all forms of trafficking.
"In other words, not only sex trafficking, but all forms of trafficking in persons, thereby creating a comprehensive legal tool to combat trafficking in persons in all its forms.
"Sex trafficking is but one form of human trafficking - there are many other forms, such as debt bondage, labour trafficking, organ smuggling, domestic servitude, forced marriage and forced criminality."
He clarified that trafficking does not always mean people are brought or taken out of a country. There are instances of internal trafficking as well.
Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act
The NPF will make the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act work better, according to Jeffery.
"The NPF 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," said Jeffery.
"We passed the legislation because we were concerned by the increase of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and the role played by organised criminal networks in the trafficking of persons globally."
Jeffery said that while the legislation came into operation in 2015, the Act along with the NFP will bring South Africa a step closer to a much needed systemic response to the plight of trafficking in the country.