The other day Home Affairs minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha drew attention to a growing crime that the country needs to do everything in its power to counter.
It is the crime of human trafficking that is fast growing in the country and has all sorts of negative implications on security and development.
It involves transporting youths and adults abroad by agents to illegally work as housemaids and in other informal jobs.
It also involves sometimes using Tanzania as a gateway to transport people from other countries to various destinations worldwide.
Although the minister would not disclose any figures, confining himself to warning that the illegal business had serious implications for the country, we know from various sources that there are agents in the country practicing and facilitating human trafficking.
Reports point out that the incidence of internal trafficking is higher than the transnational one and is usually facilitated by family members and friends who lure girls and boys with promises of assistance with education or finding lucrative employment in urban areas, which sadly never materialise.
This year’s Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) launched in June in the US, cites our country in the list of shame, showing that children from Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking in Kenya, China, India, and Pakistan.
Minister Nahodha said most of the youths exported from Tanzania are between 13 and 17 years old.
The minister rightly points out that at this age, children should be at primary or secondary school and that transporting them to other countries affects them psychologically and denies them a chance to determine and plan for their future lives.
And worse still, Nahodha says the heinous business is linked with terrorist groups, corruption and narcotic dealers across borders.
Human trafficking crimes according to research are rated as the third most profitable undertakings worldwide after narcotics and weapons, generating USD 32 billion annually to the agents.
We agree with the minister that every effort needs to be exerted to ensure that the crime is contained soonest, before the country is too deeply drawn into the international crime network.
The country cannot talk of success in promoting human rights, if it does not wage a concerted fight against such vices as human trafficking, which as the minister noted was growing in the country.
To show its commitment in fighting human trafficking, Tanzania has a law in place since 2008, known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, and the other day formed the National Anti-Trafficking Committee with the mandate to supervise the implementation of the law.
The committee will among other things prepare regulations that will specifically highlight responsibilities of every committee member and come up with new strategies to end the problem.
It is our conviction that an early awareness campaign that enables the broader public to appreciate the seriousness of the problem and also clearly see its role in fighting human trafficking will go a long way in curbing the vice.
This is an area that we would urge the government to work on urgently so that the crime can be contained in good time.