Govt rapped for making citizens prone to trafficking

Tendai Mukandi/ Itai Mushekwe



THE United States has castigated government for making its own people vulnerable to human trafficking through its globally condemned Operat

ion Murambatsvina, a State Department 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report reveals.


Zimbabwe was last year classified under Tier 2, a watch list of countries “assessed as not fully complying with the minimum standards”. According to the latest report released on June 5 by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Zimbabwe has since dipped into the lowest classification of countries said to have an appalling human trafficking record in Tier 3 alongside Sudan.


“Zimbabwe showed little political will to address its trafficking problem during the past year,” the report says. “Zimbabwean children are trafficked internally for forced agricultural labour, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. Trafficked women and girls are lured out of the country by false job or scholarship promises.”


The report cites government’s urban slum clearance blitz, which left more than 700 000 people homeless, as having exposed children to human trafficking vulnerability.


“Government placed many of its citizens at increased risk for exploitation as a result of Operation Murambatsvina. Tens of thousands of people remain homeless in the wake of the operation, which demolished ostensibly illegal homes and businesses. An estimated 223 000 children were affected and left vulnerable to trafficking.”


Trafficking in human beings is the criminal commercial trade in human beings, who are subjected to involuntary acts such as begging, sexual exploitation or unfree labour. It also involves a process of using physical force, fraud, deception, or other forms or cohesion and intimidation to obtain, recruit, harbour and transport
people.


The United States annual Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report is a comprehensive report covering 158 countries analysing their efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons or modern-day slavery. Governments that meet the standards for elimination of trafficking established in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 are placed in Tier 1. Countries assessed as not fully complying with the minimum standards but making significant efforts to do so are classified as Tier 2.


Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Harare this week unveiled a US$18 000 grant to the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe to help with its Anti-Trafficking in Persons Awareness Campaign.