The South African Human Rights Commission and the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development, in partnership with the Conference of Western Attorneys General Africa Alliance Partnership (AGA-Africa) hosted a one day symposium on Trafficking in Persons on the 5th November, 2018 at The Capitol Hotel, 101 Katherine Street, Sandton.
The symposium was officially opened by the Chairperson South African Human Rights Commission, Adv. Prof Bongani Majola. He welcomed everyone and thanked his colleagues for organising the Symposium as well as the event partners, the Deputy Minister of Justice, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ & CD) and the AGA-Africa team for joining hands with the Commission on this important initiative.
“We have a mandate to promote human rights and to monitor the observance “ He said.
Hon. John Jeffery – Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, in his keynote address thanked the AGA-Africa team and explained that the policy framework on trafficking in persons is awaiting ministerial approval.
“We need to explore cooperation with organizations like AGA and make use of their offers of technical assistance and training. I trust that the National Prosecuting Authority will look at areas where it requires support.”
Mr Markus Green ESQ – AGA-Africa Board Member, in his remarks said that human trafficking is a crime that focuses on the very weak and vulnerable in society and that it is up to us to stand up for the voiceless.
“We have a mandate to equip ourselves and create awareness on this scourge. If you see something, say something.”
ADV Tseliso Thipanyane– CEO South African Human Rights Commission spoke on South African law on human trafficking and noted that Slavery did not stop when it was declared illegal and that Human Trafficking should be considered one of the worst crimes in the world.
Jahna Lindemuth – Attorney General of Alaska, in her keynote address said that human trafficking is an important topic not only in South Africa, but across the globe, including Alaska and the US and tears the fabric of society apart.
“This is not a problem that can be solved through law enforcement alone; that is only one part of it, and everyone needs all hands-on deck in partnership. It is about building relationships, so you know who to call when a critical item touches both our jurisdictions.” She said.
Mary-Ellen Barrett – Deputy District Attorney, San Diego County, during her sessions facilitated on international best practice, responsibilities of stakeholders and ways to prevent trafficking. She emphasized on the importance of stakeholders working together especially to allow for sharing of information to ensure there are no loopholes in the prosecution procedures.
“I have seen change as obstacles have been removed such as victim services at odds with each other and prosecutors previously not trained, now trained. Ground-breaking research has been done in San Diego. We are better together.” She commended.
Marisa DiTillio – Deputy District Attorney, San Diego County, facilitated on US law on human trafficking and the Detection, Investigation & Prosecution of Trafficking offenses. she noted that there’s growing use of social media in recruiting victims of trafficking.
“while defining human trafficking as slavery, the definition leads to other issues. The challenge is getting the public to understand what it entails, given that society is generally happy to put a label on it, but not delve into it and what it means.” she said.
Zhuldyz Akisheva – UNODC Regional Representative for Southern Africa spoke on SADC and regional approach to human trafficking . She said that UNODC will continue to partner with the department of justice as well as AGA-Africa in the fight against the global transnational crimes.
“It is heart breaking and we are calling on justice institutions to stand up and protect the victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking.”
Marcel van der Watt – National Freedom Network, during his session on the Detection, Investigation & Prosecution of Trafficking offenses, said that data was required in order to take action against human trafficking.
“An empirical database of evidence is required in order to convince decision makers of the need to take action.” He added.
Banele Kunene – South African National Project Officer UNODC, GLO.ACT, during his session on the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders said that the response to human trafficking requires all stakeholders, particularly at national level, to work together.
“To prevent human trafficking, protect victims, identify perpetrators and ensure their prosecution requires a functional and efficient mechanism for information exchange, collaboration and strategy planning without contradictions and duplication.”
Ms Angie Makwetla – SAHRC Commissioner, in her closing remarks quoted Nelson Mandela
“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.”
She thanked everyone for being present and contributing to the discourse on preventing human trafficking in South Africa and for ensuring that the symposium was a success. She gave special thanks to the panellists for sharing their knowledge and very enlightening sessions.