Dar es Salaam. A new human rights report names the option of paying a fine for the crime of human trafficking as one of the obstacles obstructing efforts to end trafficking in persons in Tanzania.
The 2021 Human Rights Report by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) wants the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, 2008 amended to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment and align the procedural law pertaining to trafficking-related arrests within the act with the requirements for other serious crimes.
According to the law, a person convicted of human trafficking can either face a fine that ranges between Sh5 million and Sh100 million, imprisonment, or both.
“One of the factors that have been identified as an obstacle in combating human trafficking in Tanzania is the option for fine as punishment in the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, 2008,” the report, launched on Monday, says in part.
According to the report, human trafficking continued to be a threat to human rights in 2021, including the right to personal security. LHRC documented at least 20 incidents of human trafficking, reported in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Mara, Dodoma, Mbeya, Shinyanga, and Geita Regions.
In January 2021, for instance, 15 people in Dar es Salaam, including a businessman Sadikiely Meta (71), were taken to Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court, faced with 41 charges, including human trafficking.
They were accused of trafficking 37 people with disability (PWDs), including children with disabilities aged 7 to 11 years, from Tabora and Shinyanga Regions and taking them to Dar es Salaam to beg and generate income for them.
In August 2021, also, fifty-two-year-old Mohamed Shalaby, an Egyptian; Ally Rajabu(40), a Tanzanian; and Chebet Benson(33), a Ugandan; were arraigned before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court in Dar es Salaam, charged with human trafficking offences.
The Egyptian was charged with trafficking 95 people, 90 of whom were Tanzanians and five Burundians, to Mauritius and Canada. The Tanzanian was charged with facilitating the crime and the Ugandan was charged for illegally working in Tanzania.
The report also observed several incidents of commercial sexual exploitation of children were reported, especially in Dar es Salaam and Morogoro. LHRC says it documented at least three such incidents.
“Human trafficking incidents are underreported,” the report noted. “This is contributed by its covert nature and lack of or limited understanding among community members and human rights stakeholders on what constitutes human trafficking.”
The report calls human trafficking “a serious human rights concern,” especially for children, who are the most vulnerable group in society. It constitutes a violation of fundamental human rights such as the right to liberty and personal security, freedom from torture, and freedom from violence.
“The government [has] to develop a new anti-trafficking in-person action plan to replace the National Anti-Trafficking in Persons Action Plan (2018 – 2021),” LHRC urged in its report. “There is also a need to raise and increase public awareness on human trafficking and encourage community members to report acts of human trafficking.”
On this matter, The Chanzo understands that the National Anti-Trafficking in Persons Action Plan was updated on February 4, 2022. Tanzania now has NPA 2021-2024.
LHRC also budgetary constraints as another key challenge obstructing efforts to combat human trafficking in Tanzania.
In June 2021, the Chairperson of the Anti-Child Trafficking Committee Adatus Magere noted that the availability of limited resources has been a major challenge for the Government in combating human trafficking.