Kudakwashe Matambo - Harare, Zimbabwe
Among the key resolutions that delegates made was one pledging to do more research and collaboration, which they say is critical in fighting one of the most heinous crimes on earth that affects hundreds of desperate and unsuspecting male and female victims.
The conference, held in Harare at Arrupe Jesuit University recently was organised by the university’s department: the Africa Forum for Catholic Social Teaching (AFCAST) in partnership with the Nottingham University of the United Kingdom.
Survivors share their stories
Multiple stories shared by survivors of human trafficking touched the hearts of delegates and prompted the call for greater awareness about human trafficking to members of the public.
Explaining the work of the Zimbabwe TIP Secretariat, Chiedza Bindu, said that “human trafficking is a complex phenomenon since it involves multiple crimes.” Therefore, action, purpose and means are vital in determining the course that various cases take.
The United Nations defines the crime of TIP as, “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”
Africa Forum for Catholic Social Teaching (AFCAST) Administrator, Mrs Dadirai Chikwekwete, commended the victims of human trafficking for their bravery in sharing stories and for committing to be ‘advocates’ against the crime.
Human trafficking is a complex crime
Mrs Anna Medeiros, the Migration and Development Coordinator of the International Organisation on Migration (IOM) highlighted the point that “understanding what qualifies as trafficking can be quite complex and can sometimes involve other criminalities; hence misconceptions about the crime are quite common,” she explained.
She further explained the dynamics of migration and trafficking in persons noting that “the migration process itself involves risks for migrants such as the loss of documents, severe psychological diseases and exploitation.”
Zimbabwe Republic Police appeal for more cooperation
In the conference’s deliberations, delegates generally agreed that although both males and females traffic persons and can be victims, “more attention is needed to assist women” as current figures reflect their vulnerability.
Despite the complexity of defining and detecting human trafficking, the Zimbabwe Republic Police called on all members of the public and relevant stakeholders to work together with the Police to “detect and report cases of human trafficking.”
“Let us work as a team, let us not point any fingers at anyone - we can address human trafficking together,” said Maria Phiri of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Break the culture of silence
Making a presentation on efforts being made by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, the ZCBC Education Secretary, Sr Theresa Nyadombo said society “must break the culture of silence.” She remarked that “everyone must break the culture of silence. We must have human trafficking awareness, a network of everyone playing their part in ending this and the key weapon is education where we can promote the values of peace, love and accountability,” she said, adding that in a country with an ailing economy, more people, especially young people, were prone to such crimes as forced labour and human trafficking.
The workshop was attended by various senior government officials, NGOs, church representatives, members of the diplomatic corps and officials of the Nottingham University in the United Kingdom.
Zimbabwe launched the Trafficking in Persons Act in 2014.