Ethiopia Drafts Law Containing Death Penalty to Combat Human Trafficking

By Staff Reporter

human-trafficking-EthiopiaOctober 16, 2019 ( -- The Office of the Attorney General of Ethiopia has prepared a new draft bill introducing harsher penalties including death against human traffickers and migrant smugglers. The draft law contains a number of penalties, ranging from imprisonment to death penalty.

Tempted by job prospects abroad, many migrants use smugglers for a trip where too many end up falling prey to trafficking. They face unimaginable hardships - from abductions, attacks, hunger and dehydration on the route, to physical, sexual, psychological abused restriction of movements, death, and denial of salaries at the destination.

Communication Director of the office of the attorney general Zenabu Tulu told journalists on Wednesday that the new legislation is meant to raise Ethiopia's capacity to fight traffickers and smugglers and dismantle organized crime groups in the region.

More than 100,000 migrants mainly from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia have been reportedly smuggled into Yemen every year. Ethiopia is, in fact, a country of origin and transit to three migration routes in Africa - Northern, Southern, and Eastern Africa.

The new law is a breakthrough measure being taken to stiffen the punishment against human traffickers who also are accused of selling parts of the bodies of the migrants.

“The issue is serious and worrying, and the government has a responsibility to protect its citizens,” said the spokesperson for the Attorney General, stressing that the current laws are inadequate.

The Office of the Attorney General said a serious solution is needed to address the migration issue. The draft law being discussed among various stakeholders is being considered with that recognition and that human trafficking must be dealt with severe punishment.

According to the director, the draft bill, which consists of various penalties ranging from imprisonment to death, will be presented to the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives for approval.

Human trafficking and migrant smuggling are among the world's most shameful crimes, affecting every region in the world, including Eastern African countries. Ethiopia, being one of the most affected countries, the bill is seen as compelling and urgent to bolster the country's fight against this scourge.

The director did not mention if the new bill considers human trafficking within the country, where women and children are subjected to trafficking for forced child labor and prostitution. Girls from Ethiopia’s rural areas are forced into domestic servitude and, less frequently, commercial sexual exploitation, while boys are subjected to forced labor in traditional weaving, gold mining, agriculture, herding, and street vending. Small numbers of Ethiopian girls are forced into domestic servitude outside Ethiopia, primarily in Djibouti and Sudan.

According to the communication director, the draft law has been presented to the Legal, Justice and Democratic and Women, Youth and Social standing committees of the House of Peoples’ representatives.

Zenabu said the government of Ethiopia has reached agreements to work with neighboring countries to curb the ever-increasing human trafficking and migrants smuggling activities in the region.

The director also spoke about the activities currently going on to address the problem. He recalled Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s efforts to bring back citizens in detention centers from a few Countries. Zenabu also mentioned about Authorities investigating and tracking smugglers to prevent further illegal migration.

“Interception on individuals trying to illegally migrate will also be given more focus, said the spokesperson, including arresting and bringing suspected human traffickers before the courts,’ the spokesperson noted. “There is a need to strengthen the repatriation process and fill the gaps to prevent trafficking, but justifiable measures should be taken to abolish these crimes,” he added.

Despite a growing economy and public awareness campaigns on the dangers of human trafficking by the Ethiopian government, it is estimated that thousands of Ethiopians are trafficked to foreign countries every year.

The Ethiopian migrants are trafficked through three main routes to reach their final destinations, namely the Arabian Peninsula, the European mainland and South Africa.

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