US Embassy Maseru, lesotho tightens ways of combating human trafficking

 733 total views,  2 views today

…Letsosa addresses the action plan against trafficking in persons

By Mamello Mosaefane

United States Ambassador to Lesotho, Rebecca E. Gonzales has commended Home Affairs Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa’s decisive action on working to address the country’s trafficking in Persons (TIP) challenges.

Ambassador Gonzales emphasized that the United States of America’s intentions in combating trafficking in persons by working together with Lesotho’s Ministry of Home Affairs, Police, Defence and Law and Justice.

Gonzales, in a statement issued by the Embassy following a bilateral dialogue with Lesotho held on Monday this week, said they aim to help the country achieve rapid progress on the 2021 recommendations in the TIP report on Lesotho.

“His leadership has been instrumental in the government’s response to many of the issues I had raised the last year-including the allocation of funding for shelter and protective services for victims of trafficking.

“…Working with the key community partners like Beautiful Dream Society, the government of Lesotho, through the ministry of home affairs, he has started to prioritise the safekeeping of Lesotho citizens who have been victimized by traffickers,” Gonzales said.

Her Excellency also showed her appreciation to the Minister of Police and Public Safety for his ministry’s sustained efforts to fund the police anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling unit.

She added, “we have immediate plans to support the development of critical skills through law enforcement training and other professional development exchange”.

The Ambassador said the U.S. Embassy Maseru team is supporting Lesotho in ensuring the availability of proper legal frameworks to prosecute and convict traffickers.

Letsosa, commenting on the TIP 2021 report on Lesotho, said on the reported eight cases before the Director of Public Prosecutions progress achieved is that summons have been issued to prosecute these cases.

The recommendations in the TIP 2021 report include the need for increased efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers through independent and fair trials, including officials complicit in trafficking persons.

Letsosa also said the cabinet sub-committee has directed the multi-sectoral committee to revive the task team to investigate and prosecute trafficking in-person cases and allocate necessary resources.

The minister also reported that following the joint forces of the ministries of labor and employment, home affair- department of immigration and police- anti-trafficking unit for inspection of the regularity of foreign workers and employers to ensure compliance with the law and to detect potential cases of trafficking, there have been some detected cases which are under investigations.

It is through these ongoing investigations that Letsosa said it will be determined whether some government officials are involved or not.

The 2021-2016 action plan’s objective 1 outcome 3, according to Letsosa, requires the government of Lesotho to enhance data collection, sharing, and analysis which he said has bred a newly formed partnership with the federation of African lawyers to collect data countrywide.

Letsosa has also outlined the national strategic framework and action plan to combat trafficking, which he said is guided by principles that include among others:

  • “Cabinet sub-committee on trafficking in person establishment at regional offices must be focal points for the coordination of trafficking mandate at district level while the long-term strategic objective is to establish fully-fledged anti-trafficking units, with sufficient resources at district level”.

The minister said in the coming weeks, regional offices will serve as trafficking focal points in Botha-Bothe district serving Mokhotlong, Leribe to serve Thaba-Tseka, Mohale’s Hoek to serve Quthing and Qacha’s Nek, while Mafeteng will be an independent office.

Letsosa further added, “Specific attention will be afforded to mining districts and factories in Botha-Bothe as these are areas expected to increase trafficking sensitive situations”.

Letsosa said the government has opened a special bank account and reallocated funding to address trafficking matters.

The minister said victims of trafficking will be supported; through partnerships with organizations like Beautiful Dream Society.

Letsosa said throughout the festive season, the ministry of home affairs in partnership with the Republic of South Africa will conduct a series of awareness campaigns; targeting five regions in South Africa where Basotho are found in large numbers that include Welkom, Durban, Pretoria, Western Cape, and others.