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UN expresses concern over a suspected trafficking incident involving Mozambican children

Maputo, 31 January 2008 – The United Nations expressed concern today over a suspected trafficking incident involving 40 children in the central Province of Manica.

The children were found in the back of a truck which was stopped by Mozambican police on Monday in Inchope. They are currently in the protective custody of Social Welfare authorities in the city of Chimoio and the case is under Police investigation.
 
“This incident calls attention to the serious problem of child trafficking and the urgent need for the adoption of legal instruments to enforce the protection of children against abuse and exploitation,” said UN Resident Coordinator Ndolamb Ngokwey.

Even though trafficking is illegal under international legal instruments ratified by Mozambique, legislation for the prosecution of alleged human traffickers needs to be enforced. In practice, suspected human traffickers have been prosecuted by the State under laws relating to violent kidnapping, corruption of minors, hijacking and deprivation of liberty among others.

A comprehensive Children’s Act was approved by the Council of Ministers in March 2007. The proposed legislation covers child rights and includes an article directing the State to adopt special legal and administrative measures to stop kidnapping, sale and trafficking of minors, independently of its objective and intended form. The Act is pending with Parliament and is expected to be adopted early this year.

A specific law against human trafficking was also approved by the Council of Ministers in 2007 and is pending Parliament approval.

“The UN urges Parliament to place this legislation on the agenda of the legislative session due to commence in March,” said UNICEF Representative Leila Pakkala. “Once passed by Parliament, the Children’s Act and the Anti-Trafficking Laws will strengthen the legal and protective framework for children, including victims of trafficking and abuse.”

Studies have found that Mozambique is both a country of origin and transit for child trafficking. The capital Maputo is the main destination for internal trafficking while South Africa is the main destination for children trafficked outside of Mozambique and from neighboring countries. Most children who fall prey to trafficking are aged between 13-18 years. Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to exploitation due to their age and dependency.

The UN family is supporting the government and civil society organisations to combat trafficking through information campaigns that alert parents and communities of this threat and the training of police and immigration authorities to prevent and protect children from trafficking.

For more information, please contact:

Thierry Delvigne-Jean, UNICEF, Tel: (+258) 21 481 121; Mobile: (+258) 82 312 1820; tdelvignejean@unicef.org

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF, Tel : (+258) 21 481 181; Mobile: (+258) 82 316 5390; gpereira@unicef.org

 

 
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