NAMIBIA has been upgraded to a Tier 1 country in the 2020 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for fully meeting the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.
The country is the only country in Africa to achieve a Tier 1 ranking this year, joining 34 nations globally.
This is according to a statement released by the US embassy on Friday.
The TIP report is compiled by the US Department of State.
According to the statement, a country's tier ranking reflects the Department of State's assessment of that government's efforts during the reporting period to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons established under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
While Tier 1 is the highest ranking, it does not mean that a country has no human trafficking problem or that it is doing enough to address the problem.
“Tier 1 countries, including the United States, still have much room for improvement. All governments should strive to continually improve their efforts to fight this heinous crime and fully protect the victims,” US embassy interim spokesperson Katherine Cantrell said.
Lisa Johnson, US ambassador to Namibia, said the country has made great strides in the fight against human trafficking over the past year – particularly by enforcing the Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2018.
“While there is still more work to be done, Namibia should be proud of its efforts to increase public awareness of human trafficking, bring traffickers to justice, and provide essential services to trafficking victims,” she said.
Johnson further congratulated the country, NGOs and civil society organisations, as well as international organisations for their collaboration and dedication to combatting human trafficking in Namibia.
According to the report, the Namibian government made key achievements to reach Tier 1, such as finalising the implementation of regulations of the act, increasing the number of prosecutions and convictions, sentencing traffickers, and training front-line responders.
The country also identified more victims, referred a higher percentage of identified victims to care, and partially funded two NGO shelters that provide protective services for victims.
The country reported investigating nine new labour trafficking cases and arresting 31individuals: 20 for alleged labour trafficking and 11 for sex trafficking, and 29 ongoing investigations: nine for sex trafficking and 20 for labour trafficking, compared to investigating the same number of new cases in 2018.
Of the nine new labour trafficking investigations, the government initiated 15 prosecutions, an increase from seven cases prosecuted in 2018.
The government reported four prosecutions were ongoing from the previous reporting period.
Traffickers had exploited victims from Namibia, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe in sex and labour trafficking, including domestic servitude and agricultural work on private farms.
As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Namibia, and traffickers exploit victims from Namibia abroad.
Some victims are initially offered legitimate work for adequate wages, but then traffickers subject them to forced labour in urban centres and on commercial farms.
According to the report, traffickers subject Namibian children to forced labour in agriculture, cattle herding, and domestic service, and to sex trafficking in Windhoek and at Walvis Bay.
Namibians commonly house and care for children of distant relatives to provide expanded educational opportunities, however, in some instances, traffickers exploit these children in forced labour.
Among Namibia's ethnic groups, San and Zemba children are particularly vulnerable to forced labour on farms or in homes.
Traffickers may subject children from less affluent neighbouring countries to sex trafficking and forced labour.