The government maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2008 Law on Preventing and Combating the Trafficking of People criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of 16 to 20 years’ imprisonment. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Inconsistent with international law, the law did not establish the use of force, fraud, or coercion as an essential element of the crime. In December 2019, the government approved updates to the penal code that reportedly penalize sex trafficking offenses, including providing harsher penalties for child sex trafficking offenses; these updates will be implemented in June 2020. Additionally, draft amendments to bring the 2008 anti-trafficking law in line with international standards were awaiting approval by various stakeholders at the end of the reporting period.
The government investigated 13 potential trafficking cases in 2019, determining eight of these cases to be trafficking; this compared with 10 investigations in 2018. These cases involved 22 Mozambican male and female victims who were sexually abused and exploited in forced labor from rural areas in southern Mozambique to Maputo; the government did not report the number of traffickers involved in the eight cases. The government initiated prosecutions in all eight of the confirmed cases of trafficking, compared with prosecuting seven defendants in seven cases during the previous reporting period. The government convicted two traffickers under the 2008 anti-trafficking law, the same number of convictions reported in 2018. Courts sentenced traffickers to imprisonment ranging from three to 13 years. The remaining six prosecutions did not result in conviction. Observers indicated that there may have been other trafficking cases in process at the end of the reporting period that were otherwise not reported by the government. For example, an international organization reported that the government arrested and prosecuted an alleged child trafficker in an IDP resettlement camp during the reporting period; however, the government did not provide information on this case. Similar to previous years, alleged traffickers commonly bribed police and immigration officials to facilitate trafficking crimes both domestically and across international borders; however, the government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government conducted various trainings across the country for front-line responders during the reporting period. In partnership with an international organization, the government trained judges and investigators from the National Criminal Investigation Service on the legal elements of trafficking. The Department of Assistance to Family and Minor Victims of Violence conducted 52 training courses for 887 National Police officers to discuss integrated care for victims of violence, including trafficking. The government, in partnership with an international NGO, also provided training on the legal framework of trafficking to provincial reference groups in Maputo and Gaza Provinces and training on victim identification and assistance to border officers in Maputo Province and at the South African border. The attorney general’s office maintained bilateral memoranda of understanding with the Republic of South Africa, Eswatini, and Zambia to address cross-border cooperation on trafficking cases.