Trafficking Bill Sent to President Zuma for Assent

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

The Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill and the Superior Courts Bill were both approved by the National Council of Provinces last week and sent to president Zuma for assent.

The Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill was tabled in Parliament in March 2010.

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.

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 be forced to pay compensation to a victim for damages, injuries, both physical and psychological and loss of income, amongst others.

The Superior Courts Bill aims to consolidate all the laws relating to the constitutional court, the supreme court of appeal and the high court into a single piece of legislation.

It would establish a single high court of South Africa.

The bill was approved by cabinet in December 2010 and tabled in June 2011.

The thinking behind the bill flows from the Constitution.

Item 16(6) of schedule 6 of the Constitution calls for the rationalisation of the court system in order to conform with the requirements of the Constitution.

An integrated system of court governance would also be introduced.

The bill also seeks to:

• Incorporate certain specialist courts into the high court
• Make provision for the administration of the judicial functions of all courts
• Make provision for administrative and budgetary matters relating to the superior courts

Speaking in February 2011, the justice minister, Jeff Radebe, declared that the intention of the bill was to create a single, integrated judicial system that is accessible and affordable.

Sabinet Cape Town Office

 

Related legislation: