- The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) ministers responsible for combating trafficking in persons have adopted a ten-year Regional Strategic Plan of Action, aimed at increased cooperation and adoption of national policies that will help curb the practice.
The strategic plan, is however still to be submitted to the SADC Council of Ministers for approval in August, 2009.
The SADC ministers together with other regional and international partners met yesterday in Maputo, Mozambique, noting that the phenomenon of trafficking in persons, especially women and children is growing in the SADC Region.
Delegates at the conference said trafficking in persons represents a new, sophisticated and aggressive form of slavery.
"Trafficking in persons is a criminal activity that requires clear and comprehensive legislation to prevent and combat. Furthermore, there is a need for programmes and legislation to protect and assist victims of such trafficking, with full respect for their human rights, and to promote cooperation among all stakeholders in order to address this problem," the ministers said in a communique issued at the end of the conference.
The further stated that people in the SADC region are more prone to trafficking as a result of vulnerabilities created by war, endemic poverty, minimal access to health and education, gender inequality, unemployment, which mainly affects children particularly orphans, youth and women who comprise the majority of the poor.
The Regional Plan of Action, according to the statement, clearly lays out methods and areas of cooperation to combat all areas of human trafficking, especially of women and children. The statement further said the plan of action addresses trafficking from a comprehensive perspective, as outlined in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, the Ouagadougu Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, Especially Women and Children of the African Union, and the Protocol on Gender and Development of SADC.
It concluded by saying that in particular, the Plan of Action seeks to address amongst others, priority areas such as legislation and policy measures, training for skills enhancement and capacity building, prevention and public awareness campaigns, victim support and witness protection, research and information sharing, as well as monitoring and evaluation on the implementation of the Plan of Action at regional and national levels.
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