V. Special Cases
Scope and Magnitude. There are reports that Brunei is a destination for a small number of women from Thailand and the People's Republic of China who were trafficked for the purposes of forced prostitution.
Government Efforts. Brunei has a statute that outlaws sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children. Penalties for trafficking for sexual exploitation carry sentences of up to 30 years' imprisonment. Brunei authorities have taken steps to curb specific practices including the salary check off system that led to labor unrest. There are some protective measures for foreign workers, but they are not uniformly applied. Some foreign embassies provide protection services, including temporary shelter, for workers involved in labor disputes. Brunei has neither conducted public awareness programs nor provided training for government officials on trafficking.
The Republic of the Congo is only recently emerging from extended armed conflict. It will take time before the government establishes a credible police presence throughout the country. Armed guerrilla groups, particularly in the Pool region, have ceased hostilities, but have not fully disarmed. The absence of security in the country, and the government's challenge in rebuilding a country in which a significant percentage of the population was displaced by conflict, make it necessary to classify the Republic of the Congo as a special case.
Scope and Magnitude. A significant number of children serving with armed rebel militias have not been disarmed and reintegrated, though the government adopted a policy to not use child soldiers. Recent reports indicate that indigenous minority populations may be subjected to forced labor situations. NGOs and international organizations provide care and assistance to many trafficking victims. The Republic of the Congo has no law that specifically prohibits trafficking in persons, but traffickers could be prosecuted under existing laws on rape, illegal entry, forced labor, slavery, and prostitution.
Areas for Improvement. The government should continue efforts to reintegrate former child soldiers when they are freed from rebel control, take steps to establish a law enforcement framework to address trafficking, and be prepared to provide protection and services to trafficking victims if they are found in areas the government controls.
East Timor is not listed on the report this year because of a lack of information indicating a significant number of victims.
Scope and Magnitude. Press reports and reporting from origin countries indicate that East Timor is a destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. These reports indicate that women from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) have been trafficked to East Timor for forced prostitution. There has also been one report of commercial sexual exploitation of children in East Timor.
Government Efforts. The government recognizes that trafficking is a growing problem, but authorities have difficulty distinguishing trafficking victims from illegal migrants. While there is strong political will to address the problem, the government lacks the resources to effectively combat trafficking. The East Timorese Government is developing a national action plan and a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. The government has not developed the capacity to compile full information on trafficking arrests, prosecutions, and convictions. In 2003, authorities reported several raids of brothels, but only two arrests of traffickers. In one raid, authorities discovered up to 23 trafficking victims from Thailand. There is a lack of coordination between prosecutors and the police, and law enforcement officials generally lack training. There have been only sporadic efforts at victim protection and no anti-trafficking campaigns have been conducted in East Timor, in part because East Timor has not been a country of origin for trafficking victims.
Areas for Improvement. Government action should concentrate on adopting a strong and comprehensive anti-trafficking law; improving victim protection measures; arresting and prosecuting persons involved in trafficking, especially if such persons include government officials; and actively engaging with NGOs and regional and international bodies. The government and the United Nations should also promptly address credible reports that UN peacekeepers are clients of brothels that have trafficked women.
The collapse of the Aristide regime in February 2004, and the violence and looting that surrounded it, left Haiti lacking an effective government that can address the significant trafficking in persons challenge that the country faces. For that reason, Haiti has not been evaluated in the report's Tier system. Instead, it is being placed among special cases for the 2004 report until the new government has a record on trafficking to evaluate. The following background and recommendations are provided to help guide officials of the new government.
Scope and Magnitude. Haiti is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Haitian youth are internally trafficked in the "restavek" tradition in which poor mothers give custody of their children to more affluent families, in the hope that they will receive an education and economic opportunities. The reality is more often maltreatment and abuse and long hours of uncompensated hard labor. Haitian officials have estimated that 90,000-120,000 children are "restaveks," many of whom are mistreated and live in conditions that can amount to slavery. Haitians also migrate illegally to the Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Suriname, and St. Martin and other Caribbean islands. Many are vulnerable to trafficking. Significant trafficking takes place across the Dominican-Haitian border. Large numbers of undocumented Haitians who have migrated to the Dominican Republic are forced to labor in agriculture, particularly the sugar cane harvest. Observers estimate 2,500-3,000 Haitian children are trafficked annually into the Dominican Republic. Dominican women and girls are trafficked into Haiti for prostitution, and Haitian police have estimated that several hundred may be held in debt bondage in Port-au-Prince. Haiti is also a source and transit country for illegal migration, much of it bound for the U.S. and Canada. Some of these illegal migrants, such as Chinese, are forced into labor to repay smuggling debts.
Areas for Attention for the new Government of Haiti. The new Government of Haiti should enact a comprehensive anti-trafficking statute that defines and penalizes the crime. Once the Haitian National Police force is reconstituted, the government should earmark resources to a fully staffed police unit dedicated to fighting human trafficking with the authority to gather intelligence, investigate and arrest traffickers. That unit should conduct raids to free trafficking victims held in Port-au-Prince and other urban areas. It should investigate international traffickers and interdict out-bound trafficking. The Ministry of the Interior should continue to expand its efforts at the border, in conjunction with the police, to investigate international traffickers and interdict out-bound trafficking. Haitian officials should seek out opportunities to cooperate with the Government of the Dominican Republic. The Social Welfare Ministry (IBESR) should be given more resources to assist victims.
Iraq is a country still in transition. The Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) is working with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to help establish an interim government that will assume power on July 1, 2004 and administer the country until elections take place and a permanent constitution is ratified, no later than December 31, 2005. Because of the special circumstances in Iraq, it is difficult to get a highly accurate picture of the human trafficking situation in the country. This report, gathered from various information sources, is but an attempt to identify the extent of human trafficking in Iraq as well as efforts underway to fight it. Iraq appears to be a country of origin for women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation to other countries within the region and to India. Reports indicate that an increasing number of Iraqi women and girls are being trafficked into Yemen for sexual exploitation. Some of these victims cited threats against their families as a means of coercion; others may be victims of debt bondage. To a lesser extent, there have been reports of girls and women being trafficked within Iraq for sexual exploitation. Shortly after the war, a number of young Iraqi women and boys were kidnapped and held for ransom, with some kidnapped girls being sold into prostitution. At this stage, due to the lack of adequate information, the scope and magnitude of the internal trafficking problem in Iraq remains difficult to establish. Once a formal Iraqi government is established, it will need to develop and implement a national anti-trafficking action plan that includes a comprehensive anti-trafficking law; law enforcement training in identification, investigation and interdiction; and regional coordination on anti-trafficking efforts.
Prosecution. The CPA alerted U.S. personnel in Iraq to the possible emergence of trafficking in persons in post-war Iraq. The CPA also announced its zero-tolerance policy regarding U.S. personnel involvement in trafficking or related activities, and instructed U.S. Military Police to enforce this policy. Iraqi translators working for the CPA were alerted to the situation and encouraged to report information on any trafficking and kidnapping cases. Representatives from the U.S. Military and Iraqi police follow these leads and, as a result, numerous kidnappers, rapists, and suspected traffickers have been arrested and jailed by joint U.S.-Iraqi police actions. The U.S. Military Police and Iraqi Police arrested six men for kidnapping young girls and selling them into prostitution. The CPA modified the penalties for kidnapping to provide a maximum punishment of life imprisonment for each offense. Penalties for rape and indecent assault were also modified to provide a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Protection. Although currently there are no shelters for victims of trafficking, such persons may be referred to hospitals or international organizations for assistance. The future government of Iraq will need to develop and implement comprehensive and effective victim protection measures, including the provision of shelters, legal, medical and psychological services.
Prevention. Currently there are no preventive programs in Iraq. The future government of Iraq will need to develop and implement effective and innovative anti-trafficking measures, including outreach programs directed at reaching particularly vulnerable groups in the society, such as women and children. It will also have to train its future diplomats to detect and care for victims of trafficking in key destination countries.
Liberia is a nation in a profound state of change and uncertainty. The newly formed National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) took office in October 2003, ending 14 years of armed conflict. The government coalition currently controls little territory outside of Monrovia, the capital city. United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) peacekeeping forces are charged with restoring order throughout the countryside and training a reformed Liberian National Police force. It will take time before a credible police presence can be established throughout the country to enforce existing laws, including those against trafficking. Current government priorities are focused on disarming ex-combatants and distributing food and medicine.
Scope and Magnitude. Liberia is a source country for men, women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation, soldiering, and domestic and commercial labor. Government forces regularly conscripted men, women, and particularly children into their ranks during round-ups, as did rebel factions when raiding refugee and internally displaced persons camps. Child soldiers were forced to work as porters, cooks, messengers and combatants. In addition, young girls were recruited for sexual slavery, forced marriage, and combat. UNICEF estimates there are 15,000 child soldiers within armed groups, comprising up to 80% of some factions. The two rebel factions—LURD and MODEL—and elements of former government militias currently enslave victims in diamond and gold mines. Liberian children are also forced to porter supplies across the borders with Guinea and Sierra Leone and have been forcibly recruited into warring factions in Cote d'Ivoire.
Government Efforts. There is growing political will to combat trafficking and the Ministry of Justice is drafting a national plan of action to combat trafficking in persons. The NTGL is working with the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration, comprised of representatives from the warring factions, the transitional government and UNMIL, to end the forced conscription of Liberians into militias. The cease-fire has slowed such recruitment, but it continues outside the greater Monrovia area. The demobilization program provides child soldiers with specialized counseling and assistance. Officials of the Ministry of Justice's Human Rights Department received training in identifying trafficking and intervening effectively. The Ministry is piloting a campaign in Monrovia to raise awareness of Liberia's trafficking problem.
Areas for Improvement. The government should continue its efforts to regain control of outlying areas, rebuild its police force and judicial system, and demobilize and provide assistance to child soldiers.
Libya is considered a special case because press, media, and NGO reports indicate a significant human trafficking problem within its territory, although the U.S. Government has not had a diplomatic presence in Libya during the reporting period that would permit confirmation of these reports. Libya recently engaged with other affected countries to combat illegal smuggling, including human trafficking. Most reports depict Libya as a transit country for men, women, and children from Africa and Asia who come to the country in the hope of eventually transiting to Europe. Most Africans arrive via the arduous journey through the Sahara. Last summer, about 200 Africans attempting to reach Europe perished in the waters of the Mediterranean when their boat capsized. In the summer of 2003, there were reports of as many as 2,600 Africans arriving into Italy each month by boat. These victims on average pay $800-$1,000 to their smugglers, some of whom may be forced to work as prostitutes, laborers, and beggars to pay the debt incurred in their trafficking. There are also reports of a sizable expatriate community in Libya, including 600,000 Sub-Saharan Africans, some of whom may be trafficking victims.
Government Action. Due to lack of information the extent of the Libyan Government's efforts to fight trafficking is not clear, but its joint and active collaborations with other affected countries indicate that Libya is making significant efforts to fight human trafficking. In 2003, Italy and Libya signed an agreement to jointly patrol their territorial waters to curb trafficking. In February 2004, the Libyan Government extradited a major Eritrean human trafficker to Italy, after the Italian Government issued a warrant for her arrest. In 2003, press reports indicated 14,000 illegal arrivals in Sicily, the seizure of 195 ships and the arrest of 72 smugglers (some of whom maybe traffickers) by Italian authorities. In 2004, the Nigerian police handed over 20 of its nationals to Nigerian anti-trafficking authorities for further investigations and prosecution. The victims were on their way to Libya via the Niger Republic.
Areas for Improvement. The Government of Libya, given the extensive trafficking within its territory, should provide more information to help determine the extent of the problem as well as evaluate its anti-trafficking efforts. It should also continue cooperating with source and destination countries on anti-trafficking efforts. Libya should similarly cooperate with the International Organization for Migration and NGOs active in the fight against human trafficking.
Somalia has been without a central government since 1991. It is a country of origin and destination for trafficked women and children. Armed militias forcibly conscript Somali victims for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Some victims may be trafficked to the Middle East and Europe for sexual exploitation or forced labor. Trafficking networks are reported to be involved in transporting child victims to South Africa for sexual exploitation. There is political commitment within the Somaliland and Puntland administrations to address trafficking, but corruption and a lack of resources prevent the development of effective policies. Officials are known to condone human trafficking. In May 2003, Puntland authorities reported that they dismissed two officials for involvement in trafficking 133 Sri Lankans. No resources are devoted to preventing trafficking or to victim protection, although some police efforts seek to target traffickers. Various forms of trafficking are prohibited by statutory, Sharia, and customary law, but no traffickers have been prosecuted. Government officials are not trained to identify or assist trafficking victims. NGO's work with internally displaced persons, some of whom may be trafficking victims.
Areas for Improvement. All of the major factions in Somalia should cease the use of forced and conscripted labor, especially children. Government officials should target and prosecute traffickers.
Yemen is a special case because information on trafficking is fragmentary and difficult to corroborate. Yemen may be a country of origin and destination for internationally trafficked persons. In the past, trafficking has not been a problem in Yemen, but indications exist that one may be merging. There are reported cases of children trafficked within Yemen for child labor and to Saudi Arabia for begging. Reports in 2003 and 2004 indicate that increasing numbers of Iraqi women and girls were trafficked to Yemen for prostitution. Because trafficking is a nascent issue in Yemen, no surveys or reports are available on the scope and magnitude of the problem.
Government Action. Yemeni law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, but several other statutes are being used to prosecute traffickers. The government arrested eight people for attempting to traffic 20 children to Saudi Arabia for begging; these cases are pending. The Ministry of Interior issued a circular to the governorates that border Saudi Arabia instructing its field offices to be alert to potential trafficking situations and arrest perpetrators. Once the government became aware of the possibility that Iraqi women were trafficked to Yemen, a ruling was issued requiring entry visas for all Iraqis. Trafficked children recovered from Saudi Arabia were returned to their families, and Yemeni Ministry of Interior officials explained to the victims' families the risks involved in sending their children abroad. The government supports programs that indirectly address trafficking, such as programs promoting literacy, combating child labor, and combating violence against women. The Department will, over the next year, continue to engage the government of Yemen on trafficking issues.