Zambia reviews legislation relating to smuggling of migrants

UNODC in partnership with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Zambia Law Development Commission convened a five-day (2-6 March 2020) retreat in Lusaka to identify gaps in the law relating to the smuggling of migrants (SoM). This activity is part of a joint project of UNODC with the Government of Zambia funded by the Swedish Government aimed at combating SoM.

The legislative review workshop was attended by 13 experts drawn from relevant government departments and the Zambia Law Development Commission (ZLDC). The experts assessed Zambia’s legislation in force as a first step towards a comprehensive legal framework on smuggling of migrants.

The workshop was officially opened by the Director of ZLDC, Mrs. Hope Chanda Ndlovu, who stressed the need for a national legislation that incorporates provisions, safeguards and protection enshrined in the applicable international and regional instruments. She regretted the fact that the Anti-Human Trafficking Act No. 11 of 2008, which is the key law addressing both human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in Zambia, criminalizes smuggled migrants.

Ms. Chanda echoed stakeholders calls for a review of legislation relating to the smuggling of migrants, emphasizing that criminalizing the act of consenting to be smuggled is inconsistent with the UN Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.

Stakeholders have argued that the state of affairs was a major hindrance to the effective implementation of programmes aimed at combating migrant smuggling activities in Zambia and needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

The desk review analyzed applicable provisions of international law, the Zambian Constitution, the Anti human trafficking Act No.11 of 2008 and allied legislation related to smuggling of migrants, good practices from other national laws in Africa and UNODC’s Model Law on Migrant Smuggling.

The review concluded that the current legislative provisions on the smuggling of migrants (SoM) are not fully aligned with the SoM Protocol and other international human rights instruments. It also concluded that addressing TiP and SoM in one statute resulted in conflating the two offences and jeopardizing rights of smuggled migrants.  

The desk review recommended the separation of the SoM provisions from the Anti-human Trafficking Act no. 11. It also recommended to incorporate provisions incriminating smuggling of migrants into the Immigration and Deportation Act No. 18, which is also under review.

This project contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in particular, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on the strengthening of peace, justice and strong institutions.