TRAFFICKING: South Africa to fast-track human trafficking law

[CAPE TOWN¸ 16 March 2010] - South Africa is to fast-track a comprehensive new law against human trafficking before the start of the soccer World Cup, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Tuesday.

South Africa hosts the month-long event from June 11 and some child rights groups have warned that trafficking, mainly for sexual exploitation, could rise during the tournament.

Work on the law, intended to bring together disparate pieces of legislation against trafficking and enhance prosecution, began in 2003. Currently, there is limited scope to prosecute because of the narrow nature of the existing trafficking laws.

Perpetrators could face life imprisonment or heavy fines under the bill.

"In the main this bill was not motivated by our hosting the 2010 World Cup, but as I've indicated all these international criminal syndicates might use (this) opportunity ... in order to intensify this trafficking of persons," Radebe said.

The bill would give South African courts extra-territorial jurisdiction to prosecute acts outside its borders and obliges Internet providers to report suspect activity and addresses.

According to a U.N. global report on trafficking, the most common form of human trafficking was sexual exploitation targeting girls and women, with forced labour the other major driver of a global phenomenon estimated to generate hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Radebe put the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill to parliament on Tuesday and said it would be fast-tracked to make sure it came into effect next month.

"We remain unrelenting in our commitment to fight crime, however it manifests itself, even in the form that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable members of our communities, women and children," Radebe said.

South Africa would follow Mozambique, Zambia, Swaziland and Tanzania as southern African countries which have specific legislation dealing with human trafficking.

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