World Bulletin / News Desk
The Ethiopian government plans to draft a bill introducing harsher penalties in an effort to curb illegal immigration, an Ethiopian official said Saturday.
Solomon Tesfaye, the head of administrative affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office, told The Anadolu Agency that the government also plans to introduce another bill to ensure the safety of Ethiopians working abroad.
Ethiopia’s penal code places sentences of three to eight years in prison and, on certain occasions, up to 15 years on people convicted of trafficking.
“This should change dramatically and [that] punishment against convicted smugglers should be proportionate to [the] harm inflicted, and harm – more often than not – is serious,” said Solomon, who also heads a national task force to end human trafficking in the country.
Solomon said the bill for amending the penal code will be submitted soon to parliament for ratification.
“We hope it will be endorsed very soon,” he said.
“Ultimately, it is through ratcheting up present efforts at expanding employment that the country would be able to curb the problem,” he added.
Solomon said that “smugglers should not go unpunished and [shouldn’t be allowed to] do their harmful trades with impunity while too many Ethiopians suffer en-route and in the hands of employers in destination countries.”
Migrants pay up to $2000 to smugglers, who, according to documented sources, operate in networks that yield billions of dollars.
On Monday, Italian police arrested 24 alleged smugglers after 700 people crammed in boat were feared to have died after the boat capsized.