Hefty penalties await human traffickers in Tanzania’s refined law

Nyang"hwale lawmarker Hussein Amar contributes a point as parliament debated the Written Laws (Miscellanous Amendments No.2) Bill, 2022 in Dodoma yesterday. PHOTO | SAID KHAMIS

What you need to know:

  • The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2008 that was amended in 2019 provides a minimum of two years and a maximum of 10 years to convicted suspects of human trafficking.

Dar es Salaam. In a deliberate move to discourage human trafficking, Parliament yesterday enacted a law that will see convicted suspects spend life jail terms or pay a maximum of Sh200 million fine.

The new legislative piece, passed through the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments No. 2) Bill, 2022, means that the new fine has been increased 20 times as compared to a minimum of Sh5 million and a maximum of Sh100 million stated in the old Act.

The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2008 that was amended in 2019 provides a minimum of two years and a maximum of 10 years to convicted suspects of human trafficking.

Tabling the Written Laws, (Miscellaneous Amendments no.2) Bill, 2022 in Parliament yesterday, the Attorney General (AG), Dr Eliezer Feleshi said the amendment aimed at addressing shortfalls identified in the previous Act.

The miscellaneous amendments also proposed changes of the sections in the Drugs Control and Enforcement Act, Cap 95 and those in the Public Leadership Code of Ethics Act, cap 398.

“Human trafficking is an international matter, therefore, legal systems should be aligned with international standards,” he said.

“The proposed amendment aims at setting conditions of necessity for Tanzanians to effectively fight against human trafficking,” he added.

Parliamentary Committee for Constitution and Legal Affairs deputy chairperson Najma Murtaza Giga said the imposed penalties aimed at preventing repeat of offenses, bearing in mind that the women and children were the major victims of human trafficking.

“It is a high time that the government should conduct detailed study and come up with severe punishments to completely discourage human trafficking in the country,” she said.

However, after an in-depth discussion, the Committee has agreed with the government’s proposal, noting that the Bill should be enacted into law without any changes.

“Courts should be empowered to impose maximum penalties for repeat offenders being supplementary to punishment stated by other sections of the law,” she said.

Debating the presentation, Ms Salome Makamba, Special Seats MP, Chadema, said human trafficking business was a violation of human rights.

“Following increase in these incidents, there is a need for imposing punishment. I personally don’t see a reason to provide convicted suspects with an alternative to pay a fine which means giving them suspects a room to negotiate. In my opinion convicted persons deserve life sentence,” she said.

According to her, people involved in human trafficking have strong networks, observing that requiring them to pay Sh100 million to Sh200 million was nothing to them.

An lecturer at the Tumaini University Dar es Salaam Campus (Tudarco), Mr Gaspardus Rwebangira, who is also an advocate of the High Court, said: “We, stakeholders, have received the amendment with delight. Unlike the current situation, the amendment will completely discourage the incidents.”

For his part, Mr Emmanuel Ukashu, an advocate, said the amendment would require practitioners to rethink their role in the illegal business.

“It is a good move, because there were a lot of outdated sections,” he noted.

Regarding the drugs control, Dr Feleshi said the amendment proposed, among other things, the introduction of special cells to accommodate suspects of illicit drugs trafficking pending arraignment.

Regarding the proposal, Ms Giga said the Committee had seconded the government proposal.