Freeman Razemba–Crime Reporter
Security has been tightened at all border points as Government seeks to end unauthorised crossings of organised criminal gangs likely to be ferrying child victims of human trafficking, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said on Wednesday night.
Investigations into several child trafficking cases are underway to ensure those caught on the wrong side of the law are adequately punished.
Speaking during the ZBC corporate social responsibility initiative dubbed Safe Kids Campaign, Minister Mutsvangwa said children were protected by the Constitution. Through the Safe Kids Campaign, ZBC seeks to raise awareness and assist in ending child trafficking in Zimbabwe.
“When something bad happens to a child it touches all society. I am sure most of you are aware of my recent personal grief when I lost my beloved granddaughter Paida,” said the Minister.
“My personal tragedy reminded me of the value children have in our lives and makes me empathise with those who may lose their children to bad people who traffic them mostly for evil intentions. “Children are protected by the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Whilst our traditional methods of raising them are time tested, let us make sure that they don’t fall foul of our Constitution and laws of our great nation.
So, as a Ministry we are proud that ZBC saw it prudent to start this noble cause which will raise awareness on child trafficking and the trafficking of persons in general.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Government, its departments and institutions, were fully involved in the investigation of several trafficking cases and were doing all it could to ensure “it ends this diabolical practice through the enactment of policies and pieces of legislation such as the Trafficking in Persons Act”.
“As Government we also have clear and cogent plans to combat human trafficking. The trafficking in persons national plan of action for 2021–2025 was recently presented in Cabinet and an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs will oversee the formulation and implementation of this national plan of action whose membership includes my ministry,” she said.
The national plan of action is a framework established to ensure a well-coordinated approach in responding to trafficking in persons and has four pillars: prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships.
“These pillars render support, protection and assistance to the victims. This is in line with international standards and laws such as the Palermo Protocol which is a United Nations Convention against transnational organised crime. This seeks to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons especially women and children.
“Furthermore, Zimbabwe’s trafficking in persons national plan of action is in line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Trafficking in Persons Act and United Nations Conventions. As Government, we have also tightened security at all border points to end unauthorised crossings from organised criminal gangs likely to be ferrying child victims of human trafficking.
“My ministry is ensuring that community radio stations are established in most border areas so that people stay well informed and abreast with information,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
President Mnangagwa’s Government, said the Minister, is inclusive, hence it is pushing the ideal of leaving no one and no place behind.
ZBC board chairperson, Dr Josiah Tayi, said the untold fact was that for the estimated 40 million victims of human trafficking globally, 25 percent of them were children.
“Of this staggering number most human trafficking cases go undetected; this is due to the fact that tracking these illegal practices is very difficult. Child trafficking statistics go over many disturbing facts, among them that the vast majority of children who are taken are forced into sex trade work or end up doing manual labour. These children are modern slaves and suffer the physical and psychological fallout from this type of treatment.
“It is for these expressed reasons that the national broadcaster ZBC, seeks to raise awareness of the cancer by pushing the movement against child trafficking forward in the public scope. Nothing changes if we aren’t talking about it!,” he said.
Dr Tayi said the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime published a report in 2016 that lists the highest areas of child trafficking as being in Africa and the Middle East at 62 percent of all child trafficking cases.
“Social media is among the many sources for child trafficking. Traffickers use social media to identify children, recruit them, and advertise potential children for trafficking.
“It is a vice that calls us as a national broadcaster to stand up and do something. On behalf of the ZBC, I am therefore honored today to bring to you the Safe kids Campaign and invite you to watch a documentary on child trafficking,” Dr Tayi said.
He said through this documentary, ZBC shares its commitment to continue reporting and tracking missing children through all forms of communication including television, radio and online platforms as part of its corporate social responsibility.