Albertina Nakale Windhoek-The chairperson of the National Council Margaret Mensah-Williams says human traffickers should not be given any fine and rather get long jail terms. She made the remarks yesterday when the National Council convened an urgent session to conclude three bills that include the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill (Bill 14 of 2017); Urban and Regional Planning Bill (Bill 13 of 2017) and the Education Amendment Bill (Bill 15 of 2017). The august house will over the next four days review these bills as passed to it by the National Assembly for review. A bill to combat the trafficking of persons in or through Namibia, which has been passed in the National Assembly, seeks to give effect to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. Mensah-Williams said parliament has an important role to play in ending this shameful practice. “Human trafficking is a reality that affects many women, children and men in Namibia. I believe that the proposed sentences in the current bill are too lenient. I also think there should not be an option of a fine upon the conviction of a human trafficker,” she suggested. She said that through the review and passing of the bill, lawmakers will give government the tools it needs to protect and prosecute criminals who profit from exploiting others. Furthermore, she noted that when the bill comes into force, it would serve as a deterrent to perpetrators and make citizens more alert to the problem. She maintained that Namibia has an obligation to tackle the evil of human trafficking under the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. “We need to end this despicable industry and protect especially the most vulnerable in society,” she said. She urged all MPs to create awareness of the dangers of human trafficking in their constituencies. Furthermore, she added that the National Council would, early next year, embark upon creating public awareness on the issue through its programmes. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) there are over 40.3 million people worldwide who have been trafficked into various forms of modern slavery. She stated that people get trafficked for a variety of reasons, among others, for sexual exploitation, criminal activities such as street crimes, begging, domestic servitude, exploitative labour in beauty salons, restaurants, agriculture and so on and illegal private fostering to benefit from state grants. “Our country is both a destination and an exporter of victims of trafficking in persons. As a matter of fact, a local television station recently aired the heartbreaking story of a Kenyan woman who was trafficked into Namibia for sexual exploitation,” she said. Mensah-Williams said last week she also learned about the story of a Namibian woman who was sold by her uncle to traffickers in the United Kingdom a few years ago. “She is still in the UK right now fighting for her life. I was heartbroken when I was told that she had contracted HIV/AIDS as a result of sexual exploitation. These two stories are only the tip of the iceberg, because many cases of human trafficking remain unreported.” According to her, victims of modern slavery are unable to leave their situation of exploitation because they are controlled by threats of punishment and violence, and coercion and deception.
2017-12-19 09:06:31 8 months ago