business

Nov. 11, 2021

NEO SENOKO

3 min read

Lesotho frantic to end human trafficking

Lesotho frantic to end human trafficking

Home Affairs Minister, Motlalentoa Letsosa

Story highlights

  • Country goes all-out to remain eligible for USA development assistance
  • More organised and effective means in place in multi sectoral response to trafficking in persons

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TIME is of essence, as Lesotho moves towards making the desired impact in dealing with trafficking in persons (TIP) in order to remain eligible for foreign assistance, particularly the proposed second Millennium Challenge Corporation compact.

On Monday this week, the United States (US) ambassador to Lesotho, Rebecca Gonzales reiterated that combatting human trafficking is a top priority for the US Government, hence the need to support Lesotho to make rapid progress towards achieving the recommendations in the 2021 TIP Report to avoid any assistance restrictions.

“We want to see Lesotho’s meaningful anti-TIP progress, that would warrant an upgrade to Tier 2 by the end of February 2022 because this means that we will have supported the protection of crucial foreign assistance and the country’s proposed second Millennium Challenge Corporation compact,” Gonzales said during a dialogue meeting with government and other stakeholders on Monday.

The dialogue allowed the parties to jointly review the government’s progress on increasing anti-trafficking in persons’ efforts across the country during the reported period.

Despite upgrading from a lower level, Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watchlist in this year’s edition of Trafficking in Person Report, Lesotho will have to step up its efforts in order to remain eligible for further US’ development assistance.

Failure to achieve these targets may result in the country, among others, losing out on further US development assistance such as the country’s second Millennium Challenge Corporation compact which is necessary to increase economic growth, reduce poverty and create sustainable opportunities for Basotho. 

Ms Gonzales further revealed that the US embassy in Maseru is committed to supporting initiatives that are in line with ensuring that there are proper legal frameworks to prosecute and convict traffickers, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice and that of Police among others.

“Following today’s very productive bilateral dialogue, I am confident that through demonstrated strong leadership and continued engagement, the Government of Lesotho will secure tangible achievements in combatting human trafficking in the coming months,” she said.  

In outlining the progress that has been made recently, the Minister of Home Affairs, Motlalentoa Letsosa said through collaborative efforts with all stakeholders, the country has undertaken large strides towards addressing the challenges presented by the TIP Report 2021, despite the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic.

He said through the National Strategic Framework and Action Plan to combat trafficking in persons 2021-26, Lesotho has become more organised and effective in its multi sectoral response to trafficking in persons.

“As part of government’s commitment in full ownership of the process, we are pleased to report that the multi sectoral committee is fully functional and coordination between and amongst government stakeholder ministries as well as non-governmental organisations and civil society has improved significantly.

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“We are pleased to report that with respect to the eight cases before the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), summonses have been issued to prosecute them. Further, the Cabinet Sub Committee has directed the Multi Sectoral Committee to resuscitate the Task Team to Investigate and Prosecute TIP cases and allocate necessary resources. It has also directed that the SADC Data Collections System be fully utilised by all concerned parties,” Mr Letsosa also said.

He added that his ministry along with that of Labour and Employment as well as the Department of Immigration and the LMPS-Anti Trafficking Unit have an operational joint task force for inspection of the regularity of foreign workers and employers to ensure compliance with the law and to detect potential cases of trafficking.

As a result of this effort, he said, there are cases being detected and investigations are ongoing, citing that this will determine whether or not government officials are involved.

 

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