South Africa Moves to Restrict Human Trafficking

South African authorities have accelerated plans to enact legislation targeting human trafficking activities ahead of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in June and July, amid warnings from rights advocates that trafficking incidents will rise before and during the competition.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe submitted the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons bill to parliament this week, according to Reuters. The law would combine various pieces of existing legislation, compelling Internet providers to report suspicious activity and empowering South African courts with extra-territorial jurisdiction to pursue perpetrators. Radebe expects the new law to come into effect within a month.

The move to finally upgrade trafficking legislation, which has been in the works since 2003, comes amid reports of increased human trafficking associated with the 2010 World Cup. Traffickers preying on Ethiopians have been using stories of jobs created in South Africa ahead of the event as one of their lures, according to a recent Ethiopian government report cited by IRIN. In some cases, victims pay “brokers” to get them across the borders for employment.

The number of human trafficking victims at any given time is 2.5 million, with millions more already trafficked, according to the United Nations. Victims are predominantly women and children, mostly from impoverished families, who are lured into modern forms of slavery by traffickers as part of a multibillion-dollar-per-year business.