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Human trafficking still Africa’s billion Dollar industry

The United Nations 2019 Human Trafficking report shows that Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa is a global player in this crisis. The report shows that while most African countries how have proper laws in place, some countries do not use these laws and report no investigations and no prosecutions.

One study quoted by the UN report estimated that 357 million children lived in conflicts areas in 2016. Every one of them would have been at risk of exploitation by armed groups or other traffickers. According to the report, Africa is home to armed conflicts, government corruption and extreme poverty. Consequently, many people are living in or seeking to escape these conditions. By trying to get out of the continent to a better place, the report stressed that these people face a high risk of human trafficking. Large, profitable networks of human traffickers often go on uninterrupted because of the disunity between African countries.

There are 9.2 million Africans that are victims of modern slavery as of 2016, accounting for 23 per cent of total global modern slavery, the report said. Africans are vulnerable to forced labor, sexual exploitation and forced marriages. It underlined that human trafficking in Africa is a 13.1 Billion US Dollar industry. Out of this number, 8.9 Billion comes from sexual exploitation, adding that victims of sex trafficking yield 21.8 US Dollars each due to high demand, so even while forced labor has three times more victims, sexual exploitation generates more than double the profits.

Furthermore, no African country completely complies with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, minimum standards for fighting human trafficking, the report alleged. It designated that twenty-two African countries fall under Tier 2 that acknowledges that significant efforts are being made towards improvement and 19 countries fall under Tier2’s watch list, indicating that not enough progress has been made in the country. Nine countries, eight of which are not considered free, fall under Tier 3, where significant efforts have not yet been made.

UN organization said forty per cent of girls are married before they turn 18, with that number being even higher in some countries such as Nigeria and Chad. Forced marriage is, unfortunately, a cultural norm, leaving girls susceptible to domestic and sexual violence as well as serious health risks. The report further highlighted that these girls are also in the risk of being trafficked. Poverty and a lack of education perpetuate its cultural acceptance, making it harder for police to identify and help victims.

Armed conflicts throughout the continent make children vulnerable to be trafficked and to becoming child soldiers, the UN said. In the Central Africa Republic six thousand children were forced into military. With many African countries sharing this reality, Africa accounts for 40 per cent of all child soldiers in the world. The reckless and easily influenced nature of children makes them easy targets for traffickers, who view them as expendables, the report emphasized.

It further stressed that human trafficking in Africa especially of children and women is facilitated by the cultural climate. With child labor being widely accepted, many parents living in poverty consider it an option when they cannot afford to raise their children. Many traffickers are close family or friends, so parents view the exchange as sending their children away for a while in order to make money. The report also indicated that other parents may view trafficking as people who enable their children to do work in order to prepare for married life or adulthood.

Libya has been named as a destination where majority of human trafficking takes place. Migrants attempting to reach Europe through Libya in order to escape the turmoil in their home country are especially vulnerable, the report claims. It underlined that elaborate trafficking networks stretch throughout Libya from Sub-Saharan states and traffickers target migrants on these routes with false and misleading job offers before pushing them into forced labor or sexual exploitation.

According to the UN report, human trafficking in Africa is able to flourish partly because of minimal interstate cooperation in response to major trafficking rings. Currently, the report said, some states do succeed in identifying individual perpetrators, but often fail to dismantle the wide networks of traffickers that across state borders. Eradicating human trafficking requires coordinated efforts, especially that of international police.

Despite all the bad things, slow progress is still being made. The amount of African countries in TVPA’s third tier has decreased since 2015. Many countries strengthened the persecution of traffickers and six countries developed better anti-human trafficking laws. Regardless of whether armed conflict was involved or not, more than half of Sub-Saharan victims of trafficking were children, with boys and girls nearly equal. East Africa involved a far larger proportion of adults who were trafficked, while Southern Africa involved more women.

Girls are rarely detected in East and Southern Africa, whereas in West Africa, they are the most frequently detected victim profile. The report indicated that Nigeria reported a particularly large number of girl victims, while Kenyan authorities reported many victims who were men.Traffickers were usually male, but Sub-Saharan Africa stood out from other regions because of the larger number of female offenders.

Globally, most countries reported more male offenders than female, but Mauritius reported more prosecutions of women than men. At the end of 2017, 25 suspected traffickers had been arrested in Botswana. Of these, 60 per cent were men from Botswana and Malawi. The rest were from other Sub-Saharan countries and from the Caribbean.

The report said during the same period, 30 adults and children were identified as victims of trafficking in Botswana. Most of them were citizens of Malawi and the rest came from other Sub-Saharan countries. Adult forced labor made up 77% of the victims, child forced labor 10% and child sex trafficking the remaining 13%.

 Meanwhile, the US State Department put out its own global report on trafficking earlier in 2018, categorizing countries according to how nearly they fulfilled minimum standards for eliminating trafficking. Zimbabwe was categorized as a country that does not meet the minimum standards but that is making significant efforts to do so. However, the 2018 report said that the government did not show increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period.

 The report critized Zimbabwe’s laws on trafficking, saying the offence were characterized as a movement-based crime’ and that it did not adequately define ‘exploitation’. Forced labor was criminalized, but prescribed penalties of up to two years which is not tough enough. Just two possible cases of forced labor were investigated in Zimbabwe during the period of the report, compared with more than 70 in the previous period. And although there was a special police Victim Friendly Unit, responsible for investigating cases involving women and children, the unit was ‘largely inactive’ and did not report investigating any trafficking case during the year.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de DĂ©veloppement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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