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STATEMENT BY THE RT HON PRIME MINISTER,

DR B.S.S DLAMINI

 

AT THE PROSECUTORS’ TRAINING WORKSHOP

 

AT ESIBAYENI LODGE

 

Wednesday 11 July 2012

 

Honourable Minister

His Excellency US Ambassador Irving

UNICEF Representative

World Vision Representative

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions

Chairman and Head of Secretariat of Prevention of

People Trafficking and People Smuggling

Workshop Participants

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

 

The opening line of a recent United States Government report on human trafficking in Swaziland reads as follows:

“Swaziland is a source, destination and transit country for women and children who are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude and forced labour in agriculture.”

That statement is, of course, deeply chastening for any nation. And it is no consolation that the same observation can be applied to almost every country in the world – though, in many of those countries, far more critically than in our own.

The existence of human trafficking for victims is a huge misfortune for victims caught up in it, but an even greater tragedy where it is either ignored or there is an absence of adequate mechanisms to prevent, protect and prosecute.

I believe it is fair to say that Swaziland has achieved commendable progress since our formal and institution-backed offensive was first launched against this contemptible practice of human trafficking and smuggling. Our good friend, the United States Government, through its Trafficking In Persons Office has assisted enormously, placing itself at the spearhead of the global campaign, and providing substantial incentives to countries that conform with an established set of criteria in anti-trafficking work.

These criteria form the basis of a Three Tier model, and it is essential that we all recognise the close link between our national rating on this scale and the amount of development assistance provided to that country by the United States. That creates a valuable double incentive – the sense of national pride in tackling a deeply disturbing humanitarian problem, and being financially compensated for doing so.

It was in 2011 that our progress was publicly recognised with the announcement of Swaziland’s promotion to Tier 2 on the United States Government grading. That rating acknowledged that we had made significant progress in the investigation and prosecution of suspected trafficking offences, and in the setting up of emergency response teams and coordination of inter-agency efforts.

But it was evident that we still had much to do. The extent of that has been illustrated by the most recent report on our efforts. We are still without adequate capacity to investigate trafficking cases and appropriately protect victims. Furthermore, our law enforcement efforts diminished over the past year, and have proved unable to secure any trafficking convictions, mainly through lack of adequate information to support a prosecution.

The penalties provided by our legislation are severe but these will not represent proper retribution for trafficking, or a sufficient deterrent to would-be traffickers where prosecution is ineffective. And the continuing failure of prosecution through inadequate gathering of evidence is exacerbated by the absence of the necessary implementing regulations.

Clearly the latter cannot be finalised until the legislative amendments, currently in preparation, are promulgated within a new Act. I therefore take this opportunity to urge those involved in the legislative process to accord this exercise the highest priority.

A robust and efficient prosecution capability is a vital component in strengthening our fight against human trafficking and smuggling. We recognise that, in the first place, we have improvements to make, and that effectiveness demands a partnership between key stakeholders. The participation of so many relevant public and private sector individuals and institutions at this workshop is thus highly reassuring.

One constantly recurring theme in any objective assessment of our efforts to date is the lack of sufficient resources to achieve our objectives and, thus, a significant contributor to existing shortcomings. In this regard I do take this opportunity, while re-iterating our continuing gratitude to our development partners for the assistance given to date, to urge donors to consider increased support in the critical areas. Our Fiscal Adjustment Roadmap clearly demonstrates the magnitude of the many pressing requirements in the social services sector – all essentially chasing the same money.

One area in which we have made significant progress is in the public education programme. At this point it is worth reminding the public of the existence of the toll-free telephone hotline carrying the number “975.” The awareness programme continues to be reinforced at national events, and the importance of a keen and perceptive vigilance among the public cannot be overstated. We will continue to promote knowledge and commitment in this area.

Our 2012/13 National Action Plan is clearly articulated, with finalisation of the legislative amendments, a strengthened prosecution capability and the regulation of labour brokers as key outputs for the year.

I would like, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, to thank UNICEF and World Vision for hosting this Prosecutors Training Workshop and encourage our generous donors to consider holding a review session after a suitable period to seek confirmation that, following this workshop, there is a vigorous and faithful application of the knowledge and skills obtained from these sessions.

I also repeat our continuing gratitude to the United States Government, and in particular Ambassador Irving, for all the assistance given to Swaziland particularly in the areas of technical assistance and the monitoring facility that has enabled us to set targets and track progress.

Inter-state collaboration is an essential feature of successful anti-trafficking work. Swaziland will continue to collaborate with other state bodies and we expect to recognise this commitment in a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed with South Africa and Mozambique in the very near future.

Finally, may I thank the Emergency Response Team for its work to date and for demonstrating how important is the partnership between Government, NGOs, faith-based organizations, and development partners, in particular, the United Nations to whom we are immensely grateful.

May I end by assuring the Nation that His Majesty’s Government is fully committed to eradicating human trafficking. I thank you all for attending this important workshop, and trust that those in the judiciary, as well as members of the Emergency Response Team will all derive huge benefit from this training workshop which I now declare officially open.

Thank you.

 

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