[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

SWAZILAND (Tier 3)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Swaziland is a source, destination, and transit country for women and children trafficked internally and transnationally for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labor in agriculture. Swazi girls, particularly orphans, are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude in the cities of Mbabane and Manzini, as well as to South Africa and Mozambique. Swazi boys are trafficked for forced labor in commercial agriculture and market vending. Some Swazi women are forced into prostitution in South Africa and Mozambique after voluntarily migrating to these countries in search of work. Chinese organized crime units acquire victims in Swaziland and traffic them to hubs in Johannesburg, where they “distribute” victims locally or send them on to be exploited overseas. Traffickers force Mozambican women into prostitution in Swaziland, or else transit Swaziland with their victims en route to South Africa. Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland for work washing cars, herding livestock, and portering; some of these boys subsequently become victims of trafficking.

The government of Swaziland does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The government believes that trafficking probably does occur, but does not know the extent of the problem. Its limited resources were directed towards other issues because the government does not judge trafficking to be an “important” problem, a judgment which significantly limited the government’s current efforts to eliminate human trafficking, or to plan anti-trafficking activities or initiatives for the future.

Recommendations for Swaziland: Enact and implement comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; prosecute trafficking offenses under existing laws; train law enforcement officials to recognize human trafficking situations; proactively identify victims; institute a formal system to refer victims for assistance; work with NGOs and international organizations as appropriate, to better determine the nature and extent of Swaziland’s trafficking problem; implement a comprehensive law-enforcement record-keeping system; and conduct visible campaigns to educate the public about the dangers and risks of trafficking in Swaziland.

The government made no effort to investigate or prosecute trafficking offenses during the year. While Swaziland has no law specifically prohibiting trafficking, existing statutes prohibiting acts such as kidnapping, forced and compulsory labor, confiscation of passports, aiding and abetting “prohibited immigrants” to enter the country, brothel keeping, procurement for prostitution, sex or solicitation of sex with an underage girl, and employing children under the age of 15 could be used to prosecute trafficking offenses, but were not. Under traditional Swazi law, many such cases are resolved within the chiefdom via customary, rather than civil law, and cases reviewed under customary law are not generally reported to civil authorities, or the media. As plaintiffs in these cases tend to be reluctant to bring additional civil or criminal charges against the suspected offender, the government has no information whether any of these cases do or could involve trafficking. A draft bill now in its fourth year of review -- the Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Bill -- would criminalize sex trafficking and mandate psychological services for victims. It has not yet been presented to parliament. In the past year, law enforcement officials made no effort to proactively identify cases of children trafficked for labor.

The Swaziland government made inadequate efforts to protect victims of trafficking over the reporting period. There were no government programs which provided services specifically to victims of trafficking, and the government continued to depend on NGOs to provide shelter, referral, counseling, and other care for victims. A government-run center in Manzini provides medical and social services to victims of abuse, which would be made available to trafficking victims. Swazi law did not protect victims from prosecution for crimes committed as a direct result of trafficking. Under the Immigration Act, a person entering Swaziland for the purpose of prostitution, even as a victim of trafficking, is subject to deportation, although it is not automatic. The government did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they would be at risk of hardship or retribution.

There were no government-run anti-trafficking campaigns during the reporting period. In late 2008, the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Gender Unit again worked with NGOs to organize the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign, which addressed human trafficking and other abuses against women and children. Movement across the borders with South Africa and Mozambique are not well-controlled; undocumented crossings of illegal migrants and trafficking victims are common. Although the authorities lack the personnel to patrol Swaziland’s borders adequately, they claim that they made some efforts to monitor them for trafficking during the year. The government also made some effort to reduce demand for commercial sex acts during the year. Swaziland has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.