Swaziland a human trafficking hub – US
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.