Justice Releases Responses to Trafficking Bill Hearings

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

The justice and constitutional development committee has released its responses to submissions made during the recent public hearings on the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill.

Hearings were held in Parliament at the end of August

In response to a request to insert the definition on trafficking of children as contained in the Palermo declaration, the department responded that this was unnecessary as the concern expressed in the submission was already catered for in the bill.

Clause 4(3)(a)provides that “it is no defence that a child who is a victim of trafficking or a person having control or authority over a child who is a victim of trafficking has consented to the intended exploitation, the action which was intended to constitute trafficking, or that the intended exploitation or action did not occur, even if none of the means referred to in the definition of trafficking have been used”.

Another submission recommended that reference to abuse should be qualified by the words “physical or psychological”.

In response, the department declared that the words “physical or psychological” should not be removed from the bill as victims of trafficking were often exposed to this type of abuse.

In terms of the recommendation that reference be made to other forms of exploitation other than sexual exploitation, the department advised that the definition of trafficking should be read together with the definition of exploitation.

The department added that the two definitions could be combined “so as to make it clear that persons may be trafficked for various other purposes besides for the purpose of sexual exploitation”.

The department also expressed support for the notion that the selling of counterfeit goods and the courier and the selling of drugs as purposes for which people could be trafficked.

As regards the inclusion of illegal crime and money laundering, the department would seek more clarity on these issues.

The department declared that reference to other international instruments such as United Nations and International Labour Organisation conventions in the bill was not necessary as they do not only deal with trafficking.

For example, the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination also refers to discrimination against women.

The department promised to revisit the clause on public awareness campaigns to discourage demand for and supply of trafficking. The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference had recommended that the bill should provide greater guidance to ensure that public awareness campaigns are embarked upon quickly and efficiently.

In terms of an idea to set up a register for persons convicted of trafficking in persons, the department holds the view that this should not be established.

The department also agreed that if suspicion existed that other victims were involved, such concerns should be reported to the police.

The provision to provide victims of trafficking with a certificate is not to label people but to ensure that victims have access to the necessary services.

The department has requested further information on which provisions in the bill would need improvement regarding the protection of women.

A mandatory reporting provision for all parties involved was supported. However, the department queried whether sufficient capacity existed to investigate all the reports that might arise.

Professionals have the obligation to report. Training will be provided to help with the identification of victims of trafficking.

The department also supported the suggestion that provision be made for foreign victims to remain in the country who are engaged in a civil matter for compensation.

It will also consider how best to ensure that those providing services to victims have access to legal advice on trafficking. Discussions will also take place with the police service to ensure that service providers are adequately protected.

Amendments will be introduced to the bill so that victims can be helped to return to their countries of origin.

Sabinet Cape Town Office


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