Parliament has approved unanimously a law on trafficking in persons, which contemplates prison sentences for offenders of up to 12 years among other measures.

The law represents an important step forward for Mozambique, where until now the lack of specific anti-trafficking legislation has allowed traffickers to escape prosecution or be prosecuted only for lesser crimes while simultaneously denying victims any form of protection.

The legislation defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transport or receipt of persons in any form, including under the pretext of domestic employment at home or for training, for the purposes of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labour, involuntary servitude or debt bondage.

One of the main novelties is that the law makes human trafficking a public offence, meaning that prosecution no longer requires the involvement of the victim.

From now on the government is also committed to granting temporary residency to victims of trafficking in Mozambique and to offering protection to those who assist victims and work with the authorities to solve trafficking cases.

Mozambique is primarily a country of origin and transit for human trafficking activities involving women and children in particular. Many of the victims end up in South Africa, where they are put to work on farms or in mines or brothels or sold into domestic slavery.