By Dawn Heaps, Intern, UNIC Lusaka
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has launched a cooperation programme to support Zambia in the fight against trafficking in persons, with funding from the
British Government and UKAid.
Launching the intervention in Lusaka recently, Zambia’s Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo underscored the severity of trafficking in persons. “This heinous crime of trafficking in persons leaves scars that are felt both by the trafficked individuals and the society from which they originate. If left unchecked, it has the potential to threaten public safety and national security,” he said.
Mr Kampyongo said that Zambia was committed to fighting Trafficking in persons, evidenced by several activities that include the country being among the first Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states to enact a stand-alone legislation on trafficking in persons which covers prosecution, protection and prevention. He added that Zambia had drafted two national plans of action to combat trafficking in persons.
Speaking at the same event UN Zambia Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan called for cooperation among all stakeholders in curbing human trafficking in Zambia, that had become not only a transit point but destination of victims of human trafficking.
And UNODC Regional Representative for Southern Africa, Zhuldyz Akisheva said that the new initiative offered an opportunity for increased focus protecting victims of human trafficking.
“Focus on victim protection is key in the global partnership against human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants. With the new programme, we have an opportunity to scale up and strengthen our work in Zambia to support a victim-centred approach in addressing human trafficking,” Akisheva said.
Echoing the urgency to act against human trafficking, British High Commissioner to Zambia, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet OBE, noted that the term “modern slavery” had been coined to describe the continuation of the disgraceful trade into modern times.
“This matters a lot because there is a significant Modern Slavery problem in Zambia….Trafficking occurs mostly within Zambia’s borders, with those from rural areas exploited in urban centres, in domestic servitude or sex trafficking, and in conditions of forced labour in sectors such as agriculture, textiles, and mining.
According to the Global Modern Slavery Index, produced by the International Labour Organisation, International Organisation for Migration and Walk Free Foundation, in 2018 there were 9.24 million victims of modern slavery in Africa with Zambia accounting for 92,000.
The launch of the cooperation programme marked a milestone in the cooperation between UNODC and the Government of the Republic of Zambia. UNODC has been present in Zambia for the last 10 years, supporting the Zambia Correctional Service in HIV prevention and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights in prison settings and prison reform to ensure that the use the Minimum Standards of treatment of offenders, commonly known as the Nelson Mandela Rules.