Human Trafficking Bill Tabled in Parliament

Department of Justice

The Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill has been tabled in Parliament.

The proposed legislation seeks to give effect to South Africa’s obligations as set out in various international agreements such as the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons.  The protocol places particular emphasis on women and children. The bill will bring South African law into line with international standards.

The bill flows from an investigation and report conducted and produced by the South African Law Reform Commission on trafficking in persons.

The bill advocates putting public awareness campaigns in place designed to prevent and combat human trafficking.  The proposed legislation seeks to render human trafficking a criminal offence.

At a media briefing accompanying the tabling of the draft bill, the minister of justice, Jeff Radebe, admitted that people were mainly trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labour.  Human trafficking has become one of the most lucrative criminal activities globally.

The bill would also put appropriate punitive measures in place. Forcing people into debt bondage is also viewed as a criminal act. Clause seven will also make it an offence to use the services of victims of trafficking. Trafficking is described as an international crime.

Carriers transporting people across South Africa’s borders would be guilty of an offence if the victims did not possess valid travel documentation. All individuals that come into contact with people suspected of being trafficked are obliged to report it to the police.

The bill will also prohibit the prosecution of victims of trafficking. The hope is that victims will act against traffickers as witnesses.

Internet service providers are also required to take whatever measures possible to prevent their services from being used to facilitate human trafficking. Internet addresses involved in trafficking must be reported to the police.

Local courts will have jurisdiction over trafficking cases that occur in other countries.

The law prohibiting the disclosure of personal information falls away in the case of children suspected of being victims of traffickers. Everyone is required to report such incidences to the relevant authorities. Those who do not will be criminally liable.

The proposed legislation also allows for those convicted of trafficking to pay compensation to a victim for damages, injuries, both physical and psychological and loss of income, amongst others.

Minister Radebe described the draft bill as a “priority bill”. It was hoped that Parliament will pass the bill this year.

Sabinet Cape Town Office

 

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