VI. Special Cases

Trafficking in Persons Report
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
June 3, 2005

Children are often trafficked to big cities where they are forced to beg by organized gangs. [Kay Chernush photo] Trafficking in persons is an undocumented problem in Djibouti. There is a dearth of solid evidence or statistics to make a concrete case that trafficking is a significant problem in the country, though anecdotal evidence suggests some trafficking occurs. Insufficient or non-existent monitoring of migration and labor statistics makes it difficult at this time to substantiate the magnitude of trafficking occurring within the country's borders.

Scope and Magnitude. Djibouti may be a country of transit and destination for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced sexual exploitation. Local and international NGO sources indicate that persons trafficked into Djibouti, or persons who migrate to Djibouti and become victims of trafficking, come from Ethiopia and Somalia. The same sources indicate that individuals are occasionally trafficked onward to Arab countries or Somalia. Djibouti has numerous children exploited in prostitution, mostly economic migrants from neighboring countries. Some estimates place the total number of prostitutes in Djibouti at between 500 and 600, a small portion of which are believed to be under the age of 18. Children in prostitution work in the streets, apartments, or brothels. Older children reportedly forced younger children to engage in prostitution in order to collect their earnings. Individuals acting as pimps or protectors are frequently used to set up transactions.

Government Efforts. The government does not see trafficking in persons as a problem and there is currently no political will to address or combat the issue. Djibouti does have laws against prostitution, pimping, abduction, and exploitation of a person's weakness or ignorance; however, these laws do not cover the full extent of trafficking in persons. Djibouti also lacks the resources to sufficiently train its security forces to recognize trafficking, establish prevention programs, investigate and prosecute traffickers, or protect trafficking victims. Undocumented foreigners are typically deported to their countries of origin; trafficking victims may be among those deported. Approximately 20 Ethiopians are deported each week from Djibouti; further information about these individuals is unknown.


Iraq was in political transition during the reporting period and is therefore not ranked in this Report. Elections were held in January 2005 for a Transitional National Assembly, and the new government is currently taking shape to draft a constitution and formulate government policies.

Iraq is a country of origin for women and girls trafficked to Yemen, Syria, Jordan, and Gulf countries for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation. Some Iraqi women and underage girls are reportedly trafficked from rural areas to cities within Iraq itself. According to diplomatic and international organization sources in Syria and Yemen, there are thousands of Iraqi women working in prostitution in the two countries under conditions that constitute severe forms of trafficking in persons. In Damascus, many women and girls are exploited in commercial sexual situations in nightclubs and other establishments in Iraqi-populated areas, with some living and working under coercive conditions. Due to the special circumstances in Iraq, it is difficult to appropriately gauge the human trafficking situation in the country.

Boys weaving material. [Kay Chernush photo] Government Action. In 2004, Iraq investigated major crimes against women, some involving activities related to trafficking. Earlier versions of the 2004 Basic Police Course included a section on trafficking. However, this course was substituted with additional security training in order to address ongoing insurgent activities. As the security situation stabilizes, this training should be re-instituted to give Iraqi police the necessary tools to identify, develop, and prosecute trafficking cases. The Iraqi Interest Section in Syria works regularly with Syrian police to help Iraqi women accused of engaging in prostitution. Iraqi border controls are improving and are expected to stem illegal migration and trafficking of persons across the border. Although there are no NGOs or international organizations working on trafficking specifically, the NGO Women-for-Women promotes women's programs, which indirectly help trafficking victims. Additionally, some NGOs have established safe houses in Baghdad and northern Iraq to shelter abused women, including possible trafficking victims.

Areas for Improvement. The post-Saddam era is marked with significant challenges. As Iraq moves forward on the path to democracy and builds its internal security, administration, and infrastructure, the government should develop and integrate mechanisms for combating trafficking. This process must begin with an assessment of the situation. Similarly, consular officers in Iraqi Interest Sections in destination countries need training to better assist victims. Iraqi police and immigration officers should also be given appropriate training to identify and assist trafficking victims.


Jordan is considered a special case because full and accurate data on the extent and magnitude of its trafficking problem, which may be significant, is not available.

Jordan may be a destination country for women and girls trafficked from South Asia and South East Asia, primarily from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, for the purpose of labor exploitation. According to the Jordanian Ministry of Labor, 218,000 permits were issued for foreign workers in 2004. Of this, 20,000 represent foreign domestic workers, a small number of whom might end up victims of involuntary servitude. Some domestic servants suffer conditions that meet the definition of involuntary servitude, which is a form of trafficking. These conditions include but are not limited to: extended forced working hours, unpaid wages, sexual and physical abuse, and restrictions on freedom of movement, including the withholding of passports. Some abused foreign domestic workers run away from their abusive employers and seek shelter and protection at their embassies.

Government Action. A government steering committee that includes representatives from UNIFEM, NGOs, and source countries monitors and evaluates the conditions of domestic workers in the country. However, it is unclear if the committee systematically differentiates trafficking cases from labor disputes. It needs to do so and compile data to better understand the trafficking situation and recommend appropriate remedial action. In 2004, the Government of Jordan prosecuted some employers found to be abusing foreign domestic workers, closed down three recruiting agencies, and provided various forms of assistance to some trafficking victims. The government does not, however, provide shelter to trafficking victims. Such victims usually rely on their own embassies or friends for shelter. In an effort to raise awareness among employees and employers, the government is working with UNIFEM to produce a pamphlet highlight the rights of foreign workers in Jordan.

The Government of Jordan should conduct an assessment of the trafficking situation and, if appropriate, develop and implement a comprehensive anti-trafficking national plan of action that includes appropriate protection and prevention measures. It should also train its law enforcement personnel to systematically identify and prosecute trafficking crimes.


The National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) took office in October 2003, ending 14 years of armed conflict. It is primarily composed of corrupt armed faction leaders who cannot serve in a post-election government, have a limited mandate, and possess almost no ability or willingness to resolve significant issues. Absent firmly established authority, the NTGL relies on the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for effective control of the country and preservation of the fragile peace. UNMIL has the de facto lead on combating trafficking in Liberia.

Scope and Magnitude. Liberia was formerly a significant source and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Former government and rebel forces trafficked men, women, and children to serve as porters, laborers, combatants, and sex slaves during the civil war. UNICEF estimates that the former warring factions included more than 15,000 children. Armed groups also compelled people to mine gold and diamonds. During the year, however, the overall situation dramatically improved as factions disbanded. The majority of trafficking victims returned to their homes, many with the repatriation assistance of NGOs and UN organizations. There is currently no evidence of widespread trafficking in persons.

In May 2004, several Moroccan, Russian, Ukrainian, and Filipino women were discovered in a Monrovia nightclub and determined to be victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The nightclub owner reportedly confiscated the women's passports and withheld their income. The women were given protection in an UNMIL safe house for several months and subsequently repatriated to their respective countries. The court case is still pending, but, given the state of the Liberian judiciary, may not soon be brought to conclusion.

Government Efforts. The National Transitional Government of Liberia lacks both funding and trained personnel to cope with the issue of trafficking in persons. The NTGL consists of people who led or served in rebel groups which were egregious offenders in the practice of trafficking in persons for the purposes of forced and bonded labor, soldiering, and using girls and women as sex slaves. Because involvement among government officials, including ministers, was so widespread, it is unlikely that any action will be taken against these individuals. Some senior officials are also known to have patronized clubs where trafficked women were employed; in the current post-conflict environment there is little motivation to confront the problem. The government is not devoting any resources to combating trafficking in persons in terms of prevention, protection, or prosecution. Funding for the police is inadequate, and corruption is a serious problem. This situation is unlikely to change until after the October elections and the inauguration of the new government in January 2006. In the interim, UNMIL, through its civilian police and trafficking units, serves as an effective deterrent to the resumption of all but small-scale trafficking in persons activities.


Macau is not listed on the report this year because available information does not substantiate a significant number of victims originating in, destined to, or transiting the country. Anecdotal reporting, however, suggests that existing organized crime groups operating in Macau are involved in trafficking of women to Macau's many brothels.

Scope and Magnitude. Macau is a destination for women trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Most of the women are from Russia, Eastern Europe, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, and the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.). There were no reports of child trafficking or trafficking for the purpose of forced labor. Macau authorities believe that Chinese, Russian, and Thai criminal syndicates are involved in the movement of women into Macau for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Government Efforts. Macau has a statute that outlaws trafficking in persons, and the government enforced the law, though it provided no data on the numbers of trafficking-related investigations, prosecutions, or convictions — if any. Penalties for trafficking carry sentences of from two to eight years' imprisonment. There is cooperation between the local government, police, immigration officials, and local NGOs in dealing with trafficking issues. There are no government assistance programs designed specifically for trafficking victims, and no local NGOs that work on trafficking issues. However, there are government programs and charitable organizations that provide assistance and shelter to women who are victims of abuse.


Malta is not listed on the report this year because information available does not indicate a significant number of victims.

Malta is primarily a country of destination for women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Women are trafficked primarily from Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia.

The government recognizes that trafficking is a problem, and has addressed trafficking through law enforcement means over the last year. Available information indicated that victims typically arrive in Malta legally on a tourist visa and are trafficked into private homes or into street prostitution. In addition, Malta has developed a higher profile as a destination for potentially vulnerable populations illegally migrating from Libya and Tunisia. A more complete picture of trafficking in Malta is warranted. The government should focus specifically on understanding the nature of the problem better, provide specific law enforcement training to raise awareness and increase recognition, and develop a screening mechanism to ensure victims are assisted and protected.


The government has laws criminalizing international trafficking, child labor, and sexual exploitation.

Malta's White Slave Traffic (Suppression) Ordinance applies to anyone who forces another person over the age of 21 to leave Malta for the purpose of prostitution by violence, threats, or deceit. This law provides for imprisonment of up to two years. For the crime of trafficking in minors, the law provides for sentences of from 18 months to four years. Aggravating circumstances such as bodily harm, generating a large profit, or involvement with a criminal network allow for a higher degree of punishment. When the government detected trafficking in 2004, the government arrested 13 Maltese men for trafficking 30 to 40 women from Eastern Europe. In 2004, two police officers were charged with and convicted of trafficking.


While there is no formal screening or referral process in place for victims of trafficking, the government made informal referrals and provided services to trafficking victims within the context of services available for victims of domestic violence. The government reported providing five victims identified in the 2004 case with social services, including housing and counseling. In 2004, the government provided funding for first-line responders to attend victim assistance training seminars in Europe. The government maintained a 24-hour hotline for many types of victims, including possible victims of trafficking.


The government has indicated willingness to address trafficking in Malta. In April 2004, the government completed a survey of Malta's laws on trafficking and the organizations that assist victims. Further, Malta's NGO community has become increasingly vigilant to possible trafficking victims within the country's refugee population. The police monitored immigration for trafficking patterns and trends and conducted some informal screening for indications of possible trafficking.


Two boys digging in ground. [Kay Chernush photo] Somalia has been without a central government since 1991. Its geographic area is divided among the self-styled independent Republic of Somaliland, the Autonomous Puntland Administration, and the remainder of the country, which is without any recognizable administration or government. Despite the formation of a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in October 2004, Somalia continues to be without a functioning central government. The TFG remains resident in Nairobi and lacks the necessary means to identify, investigate, or address the country's many issues, including those relating to trafficking in persons. The TFG's capacity to address human trafficking will not increase without tangible progress in reestablishing governance and stability in Somalia.

Scope and Magnitude. Somalia is a country of origin and destination for trafficked women and children. Armed militias reportedly traffic Somali women and children for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Some victims may be trafficked to the Middle East and Europe for forced labor or sexual exploitation. Trafficking networks are also reported to be involved in transporting child victims to South Africa for sexual exploitation.

Government Efforts. Individuals presenting themselves as political authorities within Somaliland and Puntland have expressed a commitment to address trafficking, but corruption and a lack of resources prevent the development of effective policies. Many of these individuals are known to condone human trafficking. In the absence of effective systems of revenue generation, as well as any legal means to collect resources and then distribute them for some common good, no resources are devoted to preventing trafficking or to victim protection across the majority of the Somali territory. Various forms of trafficking are prohibited under the most widespread interpretations of Sharia and customary law, but there is no unified policing in the territory to interdict these practices, nor any authoritative legal system within which traffickers could be prosecuted. Self-styled government officials are not trained to identify or assist trafficking victims. NGOs work with internally displaced persons, some of whom may be trafficking victims.


Little girl holding cup and doll. [Kay Chernush photo] Tunisia is a special case because of lack of information differentiating illegal immigrants from possible trafficking victims.

Tunisia may be a country of transit for some trafficked sub-Saharan Africans and South Asians attempting to reach continental Europe. According to press reports, thousands of illegal migrants enter Tunisia annually in transit to Europe. However, since the government does not systematically differentiate trafficking victims from illegal immigrants, it is difficult to determine how many of these cases are trafficking-related. In 2004, the IOM office in Tunis proposed to the Government of Tunisia a survey to determine the extent of illegal migration and trafficking. If implemented, the survey could provide a basis for the Government of Tunisia's counter-trafficking policy.

Government Action. In 2004, the Government of Tunisia took positive actions to combat trafficking. It enacted an anti-trafficking law that imposes tougher sanctions on traffickers and accords certain protections to victims. According to media reports, the government has begun enforcing this law. Additionally, Tunisia amended a 1975 law on passports and travel documents and tightened issuance procedures. Press reports also highlighted that, in 2004, Tunisia interdicted illegal migration attempts and arrested and convicted those responsible, including possible traffickers. Also, Tunisia held security talks with Spain, including a discussion of illegal migration and trafficking.

The Governments of Tunisia and Nigeria reportedly plan to sign a special agreement for the repatriation of Nigerian citizens caught illegally transiting Tunisia. The government has good relations with NGOs and international organizations that assist non-Tunisians. The Government of Tunisia should develop and implement a system to differentiate between illegal immigrants and possible trafficking victims. Such an approach should help to compile data and, if necessary, devise an appropriate anti-trafficking response, including a means for according protection to victims of trafficking.