Laxity promotes human smuggling in SADC
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE failure by Southern African countries to prosecute culprits is fuelling the problem of human trafficking in the region.
This has been the prevailing sentiment at a just-concluded meeting of senior officials from member states representing the Immigration authorities, Police, Prosecutors and ministries of Justice, organized by the Southern African Development Community Secretariat and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
It emerged despite the existing regulations of legal migration systems, people in the SADC region move continuously for a range of reasons – to seek employment, to escape poverty, to reunite with their families, to flee internal conflict.
However, the difficulty in accessing legal channels for migration often forces individuals to rely on the services of smugglers to reach their destination.
Migrant smuggling generates large profits for the criminals involved – whether they are migrant smugglers or traffickers in the form of agents or employers.
While South Africa was identified as the main destination in the region for smuggled migrants, the criminal justice practitioners agreed that due to the scope and implications of illegal migration it was unfeasible for a single country can deal with it on its own.
SADC has developed a draft Regional Strategy to Combat Illegal Migration, Smuggling of Migrants and Trafficking in Persons in order to operationalize the regional ten-year Strategy to combat trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.
SADC has also established an Anti-Corruption Committee in order to strengthen measures against corrupt officials working at borders.
However, despite these regional cooperation initiatives, the number of criminal cases against smugglers is critically low.
The criminal justice practitioners acknowledged lack of a specific national legislations and cross-border cooperation to enable the effective criminal justice response to this issue.
– CAJ News
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