On 30 July, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) joins the international community in the commemoration of World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The day was set aside by the United Nations General in 2013 to raise awareness of the plight of victims of human trafficking and to advocate for the promotion and protection of their rights.
This year, the day is commemorated under the theme ‘Human Trafficking: Call your Government to action.’ The theme underscores the urgency for Governments to strengthen efforts to implement laws to address issues affecting victims of trafficking.
SADC recognises that trafficking in persons is a heinous crime that cannot be condoned, as it deprives people of their basic human rights. This is why SADC has adopted several legal instruments and strategic frameworks to address trafficking in persons in the region.
It is pleasing to note that fourteen (14) of the sixteen (16) SADC Member States have enacted comprehensive national legislation as well as plans and strategies aimed at combating trafficking in persons. This is a clear demonstration of commitment by Governments to combat and prevent trafficking in persons and to protect their citizens from this practice.
While we acknowledge the commitment by Governments in the region to address trafficking in persons, we also underscore the urgent need to accelerate the implementation of laws and policies established at national level and the need to strengthen the capacities of law enforcement officers to effectively respond to trafficking and protect victims of this unacceptable act.
Guided by instruments such as United Nations Protocol on Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and the Palermo Protocol, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), we must all work relentlessly to identify, prosecute and punish perpetrators of trafficking in persons. Above all, we must make every effort to protect and support victims of trafficking, particularly, women and children who are most at risk of trafficking.
On this day, SADC reaffirms its unwavering commitment to coordinate and facilitate the regional counter-trafficking response and to support Member States in fighting trafficking in persons in order to eradicate this crime.