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Human trafficking in Tanzania

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Human trafficking in Tanzania

Tanzania is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Boys are trafficked within the country for forced labor on farms, in mines, and in the informal business sector. Tanzanian girls from rural areas are trafficked to urban centers and the island of Zanzibar for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation; some domestic workers fleeing abusive employers fall prey to forced prostitution. In some regions, unregistered employment agencies are involved in recruiting minors from rural areas to work as house girls in the capital, where they are subject to exploitation. Tanzanian men are reportedly trafficked to South Africa for forced labor, and girls are trafficked to Oman, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), and possibly other European or Middle Eastern countries for forced domestic labor and involvement in sexual exploitation. Small numbers of Somali children are trafficked to Tanzania for labor and sexual exploitation. Citizens of neighboring countries may be trafficked through Tanzania for forced domestic labor and sexual exploitation in South Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. The Government of Tanzania does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.


Tanzania’s anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts improved significantly last year as a result of new training of police, unprecedented government funding of the police’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, and increased awareness of trafficking among Tanzania’s law enforcement community. Tanzanian law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, and Zanzibar has a separate legal code from the mainland of Tanzania. On the mainland, traffickers can be prosecuted under existing statutes criminalizing the sale of people, forced labor, child labor, and various sexual offenses. On Zanzibar, traffickers can be prosecuted under the Penal Act that criminalizes kidnapping, abduction, and slavery. Following a six-month period for Zanzibar to comment on draft national anti-trafficking legislation, Tanzania’s Cabinet approved the bill in mid-January 2008 and introduced it for a first reading to the Parliament two weeks later. The bill was then moved to a committee for discussion and editing, with a Parliamentary vote expected before the end of 2008. Using existing laws, the government actively investigated cases of trafficking during the reporting period; however, there were no known prosecutions or convictions.
The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit investigated all trafficking leads reported to police by the public or other law enforcement authorities. For example, the unit arrested a Zanzibari businessman in Bagamoyo for allegedly attempting to traffic 42 boys and six adults from Somalia into situations of sexual exploitation and child labor in South Africa via Tanzania, Zambia, and Malawi; the accused was released on bail while the investigation continues.


The government’s efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the reporting period were notable, though it continued to suffer from a lack of resources. Government officials regularly relied on three NGOs to provide shelter, counseling, and rehabilitation for victims of trafficking. Government authorities referred trafficking victims to these NGOs in regions where victim assistance was available. For instance, in the second quarter of 2007, one NGO shelter received 23 female trafficking victims; 17 were referred by police and one by a social worker. In January 2008, the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit changed its policy of requiring trafficking victims to go to a police station to make a statement; now a plain-clothes female police officer visits shelters to obtain sex trafficking victims’ statements in a more private setting. The Unit also hired a female police sergeant to better facilitate its interactions with female victims. A 24-hour crime hotline staffed by Tanzania police officers is available for citizens to make anonymous reports about suspected trafficking victims. While still severely constrained by lack of funding, the Ministry of Labor budgeted approximately $60,000 to its Labor Administration and Inspection Services for child labor inspections. In 2007, the Ministry of Labor withdrew nearly 1,100 victims from forced child labor situations, most of whom were provided the opportunity to compensate for their missed education by enrolling in one the Ministry of Education’s 305 Community Learning Centers. The government generally encourages victims’ assistance in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, but the lack of national procedures for victim protection likely led to the deportation of most foreign victims before they were identified or able to give evidence in court.