Honourable Chairperson

Honourable Delegates


The age-old saying “the only thing certain about life is death” might fairly be extended to include the word “crime.”

And a further certainty is that the nature of crime is continually changing. We, the police forces of the world, are having to accelerate the development of strategies and mechanisms to deal with the ever-changing face of crime. And one crime in particular has become especially prominent and stands out as among the most appalling and repugnant – human trafficking.

Human trafficking has been a sad and deeply regrettable blot on the global landscape for as long as history can recall. It took thousands of innocent men, women and children from Africa to slavery elsewhere and, although that form of slavery was officially abolished in the 1800s, it continues in a more clandestine, yet in most cases equally wicked, manner today. Now a crime, it has gone underground and become less visible and harder to detect.

And similarly it exploits and imprisons the most vulnerable people of our world, more than 50% of whom are women and children. As one of the most lucrative of criminal activities, reported to net organized syndicates over 30 billion US dollars a year, it represents a formidable opponent to police work.

It is a great honour for me to meet and address fellow Ministers of Police of Interpol Member States. How highly Swaziland values this opportunity to pool our strategies, as well as reinforce our commitment to international collaboration in tackling contemporary criminal violence. The role of Interpol has never been more crucial, its effectiveness never so vital.

My task in these few minutes today is to share with you the Swaziland experience regarding human trafficking and smuggling. Of vital importance is that I am totally open with you about the nature of our challenge while at the same time I trust you will note the progress we are making.

The Kingdom of Swaziland, with a population of around 1.2 million, is the size of Wales in the United Kingdom, and located between the neighbouring republics of South Africa and Mozambique. Human trafficking in our country is an emerging form of criminality, at least in terms of reliable data and documentation. But it already manifests itself in all three known forms – a source, destination and transit point for trafficked human beings.

The victims have been mainly women and children, trafficked internally and transnationally for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and forced cheap labour in both formal and informal sectors of the economy.

Our intelligence operations have also revealed that some have been the victims of organized crime units and trafficked through to neighbouring countries or even overseas. Invariably there is the promise for adult women of work and a better life, while parents are duped into believing that educational scholarships await their children. Almost always, those victims end up in prostitution or other forms of imprisonment and misery.

Human trafficking syndicates have even resorted to using the letterheads of highly respected foreign churches and pastors in order to secure passports for the victims.

So what is Swaziland doing about this scourge? In the first instance we signed up to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent and Punish Trafficking in Persons. It required domestic legislation and other mechanisms that cover prevention, protection and prosecution.

Our People Trafficking and Smuggling (Prohibition) Act was passed at the same time as the launching of the Red Light 2010 Campaign which, reinforced by messages continually made at national events, has informed and motivated all sectors of the population. We have also installed a simple number “975” toll-free telephone line which has proved a valuable link for the public to report suspected cases of human trafficking.

An Inter-Agency task force, which includes our Police Force, has taken up the mantle of coordinating our national programme of enforcing the legislation, developing the necessary prevention, detection and protection processes and facilities, conducting research and liaising with regional and international bodies.

During the process of developing a National Strategy and implementing the Action Plan our efforts have been recognized by the United States Government’s anti-people trafficking and smuggling programme, to the extent that, last year, Swaziland was promoted to Tier 2 Watch List.

There is still much to do and we have now embarked on many additional measures – sharing our policing experiences, collaborating on best practice, providing law enforcement officers with adequate investigative tools and appropriate training, establishing special courts together with the necessary training for magistrates and prosecutors. There will be no resting on our laurels until our country is entirely free of the despicable crime of human trafficking.

I thank you for the opportunity to present the Swaziland experience and pledge our continued collaboration with our international counterparts.


Thank you.

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