Protect citizens from human trafficking

Protect citizens from human trafficking

Those who watch the PAC will remember the heart wrenching story narrated by a Nigerian man named Peter regarding how he ended up in Lesotho. The man claimed he had been lured to Lesotho by his fellow Nigerian on the false promise of a lucrative job. Unfortunately when he got to Lesotho, although the job was indeed there, he was never paid for his services.
In addition, the Commissioner of Refugees, Mohlolo Lerotholi, also cited a case of three Basotho that were trafficked by a Pakistan man. The men, he said, reported that they were taken to a hostile place where they were subjected to forced labour. They were also secluded and could not even access medical services when needed due to language barriers.

These stories are just a drop in the ocean of what happens to thousands of people across the world. This is because a United Nations report points out that Lesotho is one of the countries that are used as a conduit for trafficking of women and children that are subjected to forced labour and prostitution and men that are exposed to forced labour.
Another notorious business that has since been associated with human trafficking is that of trading in human body parts. In this instance people are trafficked so that their body parts could be harvested and be sold at black markets. The common way of trafficking people for body parts is reported to be through bogus marriages.

Moreover, young women are at risk of being trafficked due to joblessness. These women are recruited to South Africa and other places on the promise of lucrative jobs and they end up being used as drug mules or being introduced to the prostitution trade.

The scariest part of human trafficking is that it knows no boundaries. That is to say it is not only a certain class of people that are trafficked. Although in Lesotho the most affected population is people from the poverty-stricken rural areas, even educated people from the urban areas can still be victims.
The high levels of unemployment among the youths, both educated and the not educated means people are in desperate need of jobs and often turn to the internet and social media for jobs and scholarships, a fatal practice in some cases as it is used as bait for trafficking.

Trafficking trends also indicate that undocumented Basotho who live in the Republic of South Africa are also a population that is at risk of being trafficked. The sad part with these people is that they are hard to trace when trafficked due to their lack of proper documentation.

The United Nations in an endeavour to curb human trafficking developed the UN Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons that came into effect in December 2003. In an attempt to domesticate the UN Protocol on trafficking the Lesotho government in 2011 developed the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2011.

Some of the stipulations of the Anti-Trafficking Act are very positive. For instance, section 36 states that: The minister responsible for social welfare shall; (a) establish and operate centres for victims of trafficking from the moneys appropriated by parliament for such purpose, (b) ensure that such centres are spread throughout Lesotho.
The act further states in Section 45 that; there is established the Victims of Trafficking Trust Fund (in this Act referred to as “the fund”).

Despite the Act having been promulgated in 2011, to this day, seven years later the above stipulations have not been realised. The implication is that the Lesotho government lacks the political will to fight human-trafficking.

Currently, there is only one centre that accommodates victims of trafficking that is run by an NGO.
It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that its people are protected from being trafficked. The government must also ensure that those that have been victims get appropriate rehabilitation and reintegration back into society as failure to do so perpetuates the cycle of trafficking.

It is common knowledge that Lesotho is good at developing ideal legislation to address dilemmas faced by her people. However, Lesotho is also infamous for poor or lack of implementation of such legislation.

I thus plead with the responsible ministries to strive for the implementation of this Act. Failure by the government to protect its citizens from the clutches of human trafficking will be a very sad experience and an injustice to the basic human rights of such people.

BY:  Kelello Rakolobe

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