September 7, 2019 South Sudan NEWS PORTAL

(JUBA) – According to the 2019 United Nations Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), the Government of the Republic of South Sudan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.

Despite the lack of significant efforts, the government took some steps to address trafficking, including cooperating with the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (NDDRC) and an international organization to release 955 child soldiers, as well as signing the 2018 Civil Registry Act into a law aimed to increase registration of children with birth certificates.

The government signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Optional Protocol on the prohibition of the Recruitment and Use of Children in Armed Conflict

However, the government continued to recruit and use child soldiers unlawfully, at times by force; did not fully implement its existing action plan to demobilize child soldiers; and did not hold any members of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF)—formerly the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA)—criminally accountable for these unlawful acts.

Authorities did not report any investigations or prosecutions of forced labor or sex trafficking crimes for the seventh consecutive year, and did not train officials on the existing laws that prohibit human trafficking.

The government made negligible efforts to proactively identify and protect trafficking victims and continued to indiscriminately arrest and imprison individuals for prostitution violations, including child sex trafficking victims, without screening for indicators of trafficking.

The report recommends that the government cease all recruitment and use of children by the SSPDF and its associated militias.

Other recommendations it outlines include:

  • Immediately release child soldiers under the command or influence of the SSPDF and affiliated militias and, in partnership with international organizations, transfer them to appropriate civilian rehabilitation and reintegration programs.
  • Investigate and prosecute suspected trafficking offenses under existing anti-trafficking laws, and convict and punish traffickers, including complicit government officials.
  • Train law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges on the 2008 Child Act, 2008 Penal Code, and 2017 Labor Act so officials can more effectively investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including military officials complicit in the unlawful recruitment, use, and sexual exploitation of children.
  • Provide financial or in-kind support to the SSPDF’s Directorate of Child Protection to facilitate efforts to identify perpetrators and refer cases to civilian courts.
  • Establish and implement screening and referral procedures to prevent penalization of trafficking victims for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking.
  • Train law enforcement and social workers to recognize trafficking victims, particularly among vulnerable groups such as children, individuals in prostitution, and internally displaced persons.
  • Develop an inventory of service providers and train government officials on procedures to refer victims to these entities to receive care.
  • Conduct a public awareness campaign to educate the public on all forms of human trafficking. • Incorporate anti-trafficking training into the National Aliens Committee’s programming and increase coordination with government ministries, law enforcement, NGOs, and civil society actors.
  • Amend the 2008 Penal Code to criminalize adult sex trafficking and increase the penalty so it is commensurate with penalties for other grave crimes, such as rape.
  • Accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

The report also outlines Prosecution, Protection and Prevention strategies to adopt to fight human trafficking in the country.

Human Trafficking Profile in South Sudan

Over the past five years, since 2014 human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in South Sudan, and traffickers exploit victims from South Sudan abroad.

South Sudanese women and girls, particularly those from rural areas or who are internally displaced, are vulnerable to domestic servitude throughout the country.

Male occupants of the household sexually abuse some of these women and girls or traffickers force them to engage in commercial sex acts.

South Sudanese and foreign businesspeople subject South Sudanese girls to sex trafficking in restaurants, hotels, and brothels in urban centers—at times with the involvement of corrupt law enforcement officials.

Children working in construction, market vending, shoe shining, car washing, rock breaking, brick making, delivery cart pulling, gold mining, and begging may be victims of forced labor.

Families force girls into marriages, at times as compensation for inter-ethnic killings or as a way to survive severe food insecurity; traffickers may then subject some of these girls to sexual slavery or domestic servitude.

South Sudanese and foreign business owners recruit men and women from neighboring countries—especially Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Somalia—as well as South Sudanese women and children, with fraudulent offers of employment opportunities in hotels, restaurants, and construction, and force them to work for little or no pay or subject them to sex trafficking.

Some traffickers operate in organized networks within the country and across borders. East African migrants transiting through South Sudan to North Africa are vulnerable to forced labor and sex trafficking.

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