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MPs slam Namibia’s human trafficking ranking

2014-07-25  Mathias Haufiku

MPs slam Namibia’s human trafficking ranking
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By Mathias Haufiku

WINDHOEK- Parliamentarians on Wednesday took with a pinch of salt the content of an international report that alleges human trafficking and slavery are rife in Namibia.

Namibia is ranked as one of the countries that do not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking and is placed in the Tier 2 Watch List by the United States Congress.

The US State Department is mandated by Congress to rank countries based on efforts to fight human trafficking. The rankings are four-tiered. Tier 1 countries are those that meet anti-trafficking standards. Tier 2 do not but are making a significant effort to do so. Tier 2 is a warning for countries that may fall into Tier 3. Tier 3 comprises countries that do not meet the standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. Tier 3 countries are open to sanctions by the U.S. government. 

A U.S. law also includes a watch list, in which countries in Tier 2 for two years are downgraded to Tier 3 unless they receive presidential waivers, available for two additional years. 

“The U.S. government is pressing in their human rights reports that Namibia apparently has a problem with trafficking of children,” said Justice Minister Utoni Nujoma.

“A delegation from the resident United States of America Embassy came to me to hand me the report on trafficking. I told them I am not aware of any child trafficking activities taking place in Namibia and that we will appreciate it as a country if they can highlight specific instances so that we can take the corrective measures.

“Human trafficking is not an issue in Namibia but people continue to raise it. I do not know where these talks are emanating from. Some even claim that Namibia is practising slavery,” said Nujoma.

National Assembly Speaker Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab warned that the allegations labelled against Namibia are serious and threaten to tarnish the image of the country. He therefore called on Nujoma to formally engage the U.S. Congress through the Namibian Embassy in the U.S. on the matter.

“We have constructive bilateral relations with the U.S. It is a matter we must take seriously because it is critical and it can tarnish the image of our country. We should formally register our protest and depending upon their response we can strategise on how to battle it,” Gurirab said.

Making his contribution to the subject, Nudo MP Arnold Tjihuiko said: “It is critically important that this evidence that tarnishes the image of our country be placed on the table and we scrutinise it.”

Swapo MP Kazenambo Kazenambo welcomed the findings of the report but warned that Namibia is a child trafficking transit country.

“It is good that this report exonerated us but we need to be alert and informed that it is not Namibian children being trafficked, but Namibia as a country is a transit for child trafficking – these are two different things,” he said. 

Kazenambo said more needs to be done to alert security agencies at the borders to be vigilant about human trafficking as well as narcotics. 

“That is where we need to grab and investigate and alert our agencies to be on the lookout,” said Kazenambo

In the Tier 2 Watch List, Namibia is joined by other countries including Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Seychelles, Rwanda, Malaysia and Kenya.

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2014-07-25  Mathias Haufiku

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