Special report by Beatri Kruger, Adjunct Professor: Public Law at the University of the Free State to mark a landmark date in the fight against human trafficking — August 9, 2015, when the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act (7/2013) came into operation.[/notice]
“Money may be able to buy a lot of things, but it should never, ever be able to buy another human being.” — Secretary of State John F Kerry – 2015 US TIP Report
Human trafficking constitutes one of the greatest injustices committed against a human being – it is a devastating assault on human dignity and on freedom.
Efforts to fight human trafficking have increased significantly but the effective combating of this crime remains a global dilemma. To address the global trade in human beings, the international community adopted the Palermo Protocol (Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children). This protocol laid down international minimum standards for combating trafficking in persons. States parties to these treaties, including South Africa, must comply with these standards in their domestic laws. South Africa took the first step in complying with international counter-trafficking obligations by introducing interim provisions pending the finalisation of comprehensive legislation.
On July 29, 2013, South Africa promulgated its first comprehensive counter-trafficking law, namely the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act 7 of 2013, to comply with international standards. However, the act was not put into operation.
Dream came true on Women’s Day
Outsmarting sophisticated and well-resourced traffickers is an immense challenge to domestic counter-trafficking responses. It was therefore widely welcomed that South Africa’s first comprehensive counter-trafficking law came into force on August 9, 2015. So, on Women’s Day, a dream came true. While the previous interim legislation covered child trafficking, for adult victims only sex trafficking could be brought to book. Accordingly, trafficking for labour purposes, for the removal of body parts, for forced marriages or for any other form of exploitation could not be prosecuted. For the first time, a law is now available providing for the protection of all trafficked persons irrespective of age or gender. In addition, this law is invaluable in that perpetrators can now be prosecuted not only for sex trafficking, but for all forms of trafficking – indeed a milestone to be celebrated!