Trafficking in Persons Bill - Deputy Minister's Second Reading Speech

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Wednesday 14th May 2014

SECOND READING SPEECH ON
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS BILL (H. B. 5, 2014)

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (MR. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise to present the Trafficking in Persons Bill. This Bill provides for the domestication of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. It provides for the prohibition, prevention and prosecution of the crime of trafficking in persons and protection of victims of trafficking in persons; establishment of an Anti-Trafficking Inter-Ministerial Committee and provides for its composition and functions; and also establishment of centres for victims of trafficking in persons; and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to trafficking in persons.

Mr. Speaker Sir, Zimbabwe acceded to the Protocol on 13th December, 2013. Zimbabwe also committed itself to work with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) to address deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism laws. Trafficking in persons is connected with the Convention for the Financing of Terrorism on the issue of proceeds of the crime. As such, the country faced a threat of sanctions as a result of not domesticating the Protocol. Therefore, there was a need to expedite the gazetting of the Trafficking in Persons regulations so as to avert the threat of these sanctions. The effect of the economic sanctions would have been that the country was not going to be able to transfer money outside the country or to receive money from other countries. These sanctions were also going to have a negative impact on both regional and international trade that predominantly relies on money transfer.

Therefore, we had to use the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to enact Regulations that would ensure that we avert this disaster.

Coming to the Trafficking in Persons Bill, I will give a summary of the sections.

Section 1 is the Title and Commencement of the Bill. This section basically sets out the Short Title and date of commencement and the Bill will be cited as the Trafficking in Persons Bill.

Section 2 is the Definition section which sets out the definitions and the meaning of the words so that we decongest the meaning of any word in the Bill.

Section 3, Crime of Trafficking in Persons. This section defines the crime of Trafficking in Persons, stating all possible acts that can fall under this crime either by any individual, an organized criminal group or syndicate. It also goes further to stipulate the punishment for this crime which includes imprisonment for life or any other definite period of not less than 10 years. Also in this section, a description of circumstances in which a crime of trafficking is committed in aggravating circumstances is also given, for example, if a trafficked person is a child or a disabled person or as a result of the act of trafficking the victim dies, becomes insane, suffers mutilation or is infected with the Human Immune Virus (HIV) or any other disease. Lastly, it stipulates situations which cannot be considered as grounds of defence in the crime of trafficking. For example, the fact that the victim consented to the act or that the victim had previously engaged in prostitution or has a sexual or criminal nature shall not constitute a defence.

The definition of the crime in Trafficking in Persons encompasses all the three elements prescribed in the international standards in order to constitute a crime in human trafficking. These include:

1. The act which involves recruitment, transportation, harbour and receipt.

2. The means which includes coercive and deceptive methods.

3. Purpose which involves exploitation.

In addition, this section also stipulates that a crime of trafficking in persons can occur within the borders of Zimbabwe as well as outside the borders of Zimbabwe.

Section 4 deals with powers of law enforcement agencies. This section provides for the powers of law enforcement agencies to examine persons or vessels arriving in or leaving Zimbabwe on reasonable suspicion. The powers of law enforcement agencies are not limited to examining persons or vessels only, but include buildings as well. Law enforcement agencies are also empowered to search even persons or vessels within the borders of Zimbabwe not necessarily leaving or entering Zimbabwe.

Section 5 deals with Protection and Compensation of victims. This section provides for protection of victims in instances where they are vulnerable witnesses. Provisions governing vulnerable witnesses in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [Chapter 9:07] shall apply to such victims and the courts are supposed to order compensation of a victim by a trafficker.

Section 6 deals with Forfeiture of proceeds of Trafficking in Persons. This section provides for the courts, in addition to any other penalty imposed on a convicted trafficker to order confiscation or forfeiture to the State of all proceeds derived from the crime of trafficking. The property that is used in the commission of the crime, though not necessarily being a proceed of trafficking should also be confiscated in terms of this section.

Section 7, Extra-territorial jurisdiction of Zimbabwe Courts in case of Trafficking in Persons. This section provides for the jurisdiction of Zimbabwean courts in the crime of Trafficking in Persons. It also provides that the crime of Trafficking in Persons shall be extra-territorial operation.

Section 8, Centres for victims. This section provides for the establishment of centres for victims of Trafficking in Persons and programme that may be offered to victims. The Ministry of Labour and Social Services is mandated with establishing and operating centres for victims of trafficking.

This section also provides for medical assistance to victims of trafficking at the centres for victims. In addition, those who man the centres for victims will be assisted by the police as far as securing the safety for victims from harm by traffickers is concerned.

Section 9 and Schedule: Establishment of the Anti-Trafficking Inter-Ministerial Committee. This section provides for the establishment of an Anti Trafficking Inter-Ministerial Committee and members thereof. The Committee will be the contact point for all statistics on Trafficking in Persons in Zimbabwe.

The Schedule mainly elaborates on the conditions of service, remuneration and filling of vacancies, disqualification, vacation of office, meetings and procedure of Committee, minutes of proceedings as well as validity of decisions and acts.

Section 10: Regulations. This section provides for the powers of the Ministers to make regulations. This is basically a standard provision in legislation.

Sections 11 and 12: Amendments to the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act and the Criminal Codification and Reform Act.

The Trafficking in Persons Bill also include the proposed amendments to the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime [Chapter 9:24] and the Criminal Codification and Reform Act [Chapter 9:23]. The amendments had been passed through the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Amendment of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act [Chapter 9:24] Regulations (2014), published through Statutory Instrument 2 of 2014, passed on 3rd January 2014 and Amendments of Criminal Codification and Reform Act [Chapter 9:23].

These amendments are required because Zimbabwe agreed to adopt and implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financial Terrorism. These recommendations were under the Eastern and Southern African Money Laundering Group’s Memorandum of Understanding. Earlier, Zimbabwe had also passed the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act [Chapter 9:24] in June 2013. However, FATF identified certain deficiencies in that Act  in our criminal law which needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency if the country is to remain in compliance with its obligations under the Memorandum of Understanding. These deficiencies relate to the specific criminalization of the crime of piracy and the adequacy of the criminal and civil penalties provided under the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act [Chapter 9:24].

Thus, provisions to do with the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act and the Criminal Law (Codification Reform) Act were incorporated into the Trafficking in Persons Bill for joint approval by Parliament. This is because the laws have the same objective of meeting the FATF requirements.

It is therefore, critical that this august House domesticate the Trafficking in Persons Bill and the proposed amendments to the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act incorporated within the Bill.

The Bill, together with the amendments had been passed in terms of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, hence the need to regularize through Parliament. It is therefore, critical that amendments effected through such measures be regularized through normal Parliamentary approval process before the lapsing of the 180 days.[1] The implications of not passing the Bill and the amendments are far-reaching since FATF will impose financial sanctions on Zimbabwe for lack of cooperation.

So Mr. Speaker Sir, I urge the House to have a look at the Bill and give it the urgency that it requires as we face a real threat of sanctions being imposed on us and we will not be able to trade with any other country. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

 

MR. GONESE: I am not debating but I would like to ask the Minister to adjourn the debate because for a Bill of this nature, it is important for us to have input from the Portfolio Committee. In that regard Mr. Speaker, we stand guided by our Portfolio Committee and then we can also study the speech by the Minister, then we can make meaningful contributions. I do not have anything against the Bill but I think it is also important for us as an august House to ensure that we have done proper justice.

 

[DEBATE ADJOURNED]

 

 

NOTE BY VERITAS

The Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services has requested the Minister to take it through the Bill in detail at its meeting on Monday 19th May.  It also wishes to conduct countrywide public hearings on the Bill and has drawn up an itinerary for that purpose.    

 




[1]     Note by Veritas.  The three sets of regulations made under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act were gazetted on 3rd January 2014.  They will expire at midnight on Wednesday 2nd July 2014.

 

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