Swazi­land a hu­man trafficking hub – US

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - LEWIS SIME­LANE

SWAZI­LAND is an im­por­tant tran­sit link for men, women and chil­dren trans­ported to South African as forced labour, do­mes­tic servi­tude and pros­ti­tu­tion or sex­ual slav­ery, a US State Depart­ment study has found. The coun­try is also the source and des­ti­na­tion for hu­man trafficking.

“Swazi girls, par­tic­u­larly or­phans, are sub­jected to sex trafficking and do­mes­tic servi­tude pri­mar­ily in the ci­ties of Mba­bane and Manzini; at truck stops, bars, and broth­els in Swazi­land and as they are taken to South Africa and Mozam­bique,” stated the US Depart­ment of State’s Trafficking in Per­sons Re­port 2014.

The cus­tom of roy­al­tribute labour falls within the cat­e­gory of hu­man trafficking if un­der­age chil­dren are forced to weed King Mswati’s fields or do work for Swazi chiefs.

“Swazi chiefs may co­erce chil­dren and adults – through threats and in­tim­i­da­tion – to work for the king,” re­port in­ves­ti­ga­tors found.

Lo­cal labour bod­ies have re­ported the cus­tom of royal-trib­ute labour to the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion in Geneva.

Swazi au­thor­i­ties con­tend that un­paid trib­ute labour, which they ad­mit is not vol­un­tary but com­pul­sory, is sanc­tioned by Swazi tra­di­tion.

“Swazi boys and for­eign chil­dren are forced to labour in com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture, in­clud­ing cat­tle herd­ing and mar­ket vend­ing, within the coun­try,” the re­port noted.

About 15 per­cent of Swazi­land’s pop­u­la­tion are chil­dren or­phaned by Aids. Swazi­land has the high­est preva­lence of Aids in the world, and its per­cent­age of or­phans is also greater than in any other coun­try.

“Mozam­bi­can boys mi­grate to Swazi­land for work wash­ing cars, herd­ing live­stock… Some of th­ese boys sub­se­quently be­come vic­tims of forced labour,” the re­port said.

Swazi po­lice have met their South African coun­ter­parts to dis­cuss hu­man trafficking, but the gov­ern­ment de­pends on UN agen­cies to train its po­lice of­fi­cers and co-or­di­nate anti-hu­man trafficking mea­sures. The gov­ern­ment has not fully com­plied with min­i­mum stan­dards for the elim­i­na­tion of trafficking.

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