Burundi, South Sudan: East Africa’s weak link in human trafficking

Wednesday July 8 2020

Human trafficking.

Burundi and South Sudan are lagging behind in the elimination of human trafficking, report says. PHOTO | FILE | NMG 

The EastAfrican
By The EastAfrican
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Burundi and South Sudan are lagging behind in the elimination of human trafficking, says US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) released in June.

The two countries have been ranked in Tier 3, meaning they did not make any effort to eliminate human trafficking.

However, the other members of the East African Community —  Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda —also did not perform well in preventing and prosecuting human traffickers, but were listed in Tier 2 for their efforts.

Once a county is listed in Tier 3, the US president determines how to apply assistance restrictions, including funding for cultural exchanges and education, and voting on loans provided by multilateral development banks.

The report says Burundi did not investigate, prosecute or convict officials allegedly complicit in trafficking crimes for the past five years, and lacked the procedures to identify and refer victims to services.

Despite the lack of significant efforts, the report noted that the Burundi government took some steps to address trafficking by working with an international organisation to provide training to immigration officials, identifying victims of trafficking abroad, conducting public awareness campaigns in partnership with an international organisation, and increasing cooperation with civil society.

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South Sudan—also on Tier 3— did not investigate or prosecute any forced labour or sex trafficking crimes for eight consecutive years.

Overall police and judicial officials continued to lack a basic understanding of what constitutes trafficking in persons and frequently combine human trafficking illegal migration cases.

Despite the lack of significant efforts, the South Sudan government took some steps to address trafficking, including forming and staffing an anti-trafficking inter-ministerial task force, cooperating with an international organisation to release 286 child soldiers, and identifying 19 potential trafficking victims.

Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, had mixed ratings but together, they identified 1,110 victims.

Key among their failings were underfunding agencies in charge of handling and preventing trafficking even as they scored well on protection efforts and investigation of cases.

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