By MAIMBO MWEEMBA
Members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Trafficking, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has welcomed back two potential female victims of Human Trafficking.
The women believed to be in their twenties, with three Malawi nationals were intercepted by Malawian Immigration personnel at Kamuzu International Airport on February 5, 2022 as they attempted to board a direct flight to Oman in a suspected case of human trafficking
Speaking in a statement, Department of Immigration Public Relation Officer Namati Nshinka said this was on the bilateral cooperation and intelligence between authorities in Zambia and Malawi
“The Malawian authorities intercepted the potential victims of trafficking following a request from the Zambian Government to the Malawian Government through the diplomatic channels to stop one of the Zambian females from boarding. This was after a concerned citizen filed a missing person report with Immigration and Police on February 4 and 5, 2022, after receiving information that she was en route to Oman via Malawi,” part of the statement read.
Mr Nshinka said it has become apparent that more Zambians travelling to the Middle East Countries for employment avoid using International Airports because of the strict protocols.
“As was the case with the two Zambians who exited Zambia for Malawi through Mwami Border Control on 3rd February, 2022 before being intercepted at Kamuzu International Airport on 5th February, to this end, Officials at all ports of entry should always be on high alert to detect these kinds of incidents,” he said.
Mr Nshinka said that the interception of the potential victims of trafficking is a success story for Zambia’s counter-trafficking efforts coordinated by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Trafficking.
“The case has demonstrated the importance of inter-agency, inter-ministerial, and international coordination and collaboration in the fight against human trafficking. The case is particularly gratifying to all stakeholders involved because we have prevented two Zambians from falling into the ruthless hands of traffickers through a concerted effort,” he said.
He said that both potential victims, requested to have their identities withheld adding that withholding of their identity is also for their safety.
“Further, considering the ordeal they have gone through, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Trafficking, through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for the protection of vulnerable migrants in Zambia, will provide all the necessary services to assist them in recovering from any potential trauma,” he said.
Mr Nshinka said that this case should serve as a serious warning to trafficking networks as Government Agencies no longer combat trafficking in a fragmented manner.
He said it instead is more collaborated and well-coordinated approach. This shift in policy has demonstrated clear potential for more successful arrests and prosecution of traffickers.
“Although the prosecution of the two (02) Malawian suspects will continue in Malawi, and the Zambians testified in the matter, investigations will continue in Zambia to establish the trafficking network involved in the attempted trafficking of the said potential victims.
Further, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Trafficking will continue to work collaboratively with other partners to take action at every opportunity to dismantle and disrupt these criminal networks,” he said.
The Department of Immigration has since warned members of the public, especially families or friends of potential victims, travel and employment agencies to guard themselves against being used as recruiters by traffickers
This is according to a joint statement issued by the immigration Department and the Zambia police.