Child trafficking regulations in South Africa

A big talking point in immigration law nowadays is the onerous new regulations for travelling with minors, set to become active in June 2015. While the DHA’s heart seems to be in the right place, these regulations are all but good news for anyone in the tourism industry. We of course support every effort to reduce child trafficking in South Africa.

According to the DHA, the general idea is to reduce child trafficking, kidnapping and abduction. Media reports and activists have reported around 30 000 children being trafficked every year. The African media fact-checking service known as Africa Check believes this number to be highly exaggerated and unsubstantiated. They went on to state that such exaggerations, while effective at capturing the attention of the public, create a poor platform for policymaking and resource allocation. In reality, between 2010 and 2011, the South African National Prosecuting authority reported 235 adults and 13 children as victims of human trafficking. Missing Children SA report having dealt with 304 missing children in 2012, 2% (6) of which are due to human trafficking. The amount of child trafficking cases seems to be exponentially less than broadcasted on the media and, unfortunately, it seems the DHA is basing its regulations on the media reports instead of actual statistics.

Another interesting point made is that most child trafficking doesn’t involve international air travel, but rather across land borders or within rural areas/cities. The new regulations will only help to prevent child trafficking over air travel, which of course makes one wonder when border control will implement a similar regulation.

The question now is: Will the new regulations have any effect on the amount of child trafficking in South Africa, or will they only damage our tourism industry? The regulations have already been delayed from 1 October 2014 to June 2015, so there is clearly some pushing back been done by the tourism industry.

The fact that a child passport is issued only with the supported birth certificate already serves as a proof of connection to the parents. The reason for the need for an unabridged birth certificate, we assume, is to cut back on the amount of forged passports. Whether or not this will prevent further forgeries is unclear, but we imagine criminals will be forging unabridged birth certificates going forward- certainly easier to forge than passports!

In general, the changes made to regulations by the DHA, while done with the best intentions, may only succeed in creating an extra hoop for potential tourists to jump through, while failing to control child trafficking as intended.

More information in regards of travelling with children to or from South Africa you will find HERE

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