Special Cases

COTE D’IVOIRE (Special Case)

In the months prior to the October 31, 2010 presidential election, the Government of Cote d’Ivoire made fair anti-trafficking progress. However, prospects for additional progress were extinguished by the political stalemate and civil war following the November runoff as incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to the internationally-recognized winner, Alassane Ouattara. During the four-month period that, critically, came at the end of the reporting period – months slated for implementation of the newly-passed child trafficking law – there was no national governing structure that could assume responsibility for addressing the country’s human trafficking problem. Police were militarized, courts were non-functional, and prisoners were freed from jail. Basic public services were not available, including social services necessary to address the needs of victims. Government ministries were minimally staffed and effectively shut down due to a lack of funding for salaries. The country descended into a period of sustained violence that damaged the national infrastructure necessary to address the trafficking problem. During this period, Ouattara’s legitimate, elected regime lacked control over government ministries and functions and the ability to engage in serious and sustained efforts to combat trafficking.

The following summary covers the anti-trafficking efforts of the Gbagbo government until the October 31, 2010 presidential election. The government failed to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders or take steps to identify trafficking victims among women and girls in prostitution. Although it referred some child victims to NGOs for care, the government did not provide services to adult victims, and it abandoned a plan to build two shelters for trafficking victims. Though the government acknowledged that certain forms of trafficking are a problem in the country, such as forced child labor, it did not recognize other forms, such as the forced prostitution of adults, and has never reported a prosecution of forced labor in the cocoa sector.

The following recommendations are provided to guide newly-installed government officials in undertaking future anti-trafficking initiatives in Cote d’Ivoire. The new government’s policies and perspectives on Cote d’Ivoire’s human trafficking problem are presently unknown.

Scope and Magnitude: Cote d’Ivoire is primarily a country of destination for children and women subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. It is also a country of transit and origin for trafficking victims. Trafficking within the country’s borders is most prevalent, with victims primarily recruited and transported from the north of the country to the more economically prosperous south. Boys from Ghana, Mali, and Burkina Faso are subjected to forced labor in Cote d’Ivoire’s agricultural sector, including on cocoa, coffee, pineapple, and rubber plantations. Boys from Ghana are forced to work in the mining sector, boys from Togo in construction, and boys from Benin in carpentry and construction. Girls recruited from Ghana, Togo, and Benin to work as domestic servants and street vendors often are subjected to conditions of forced labor. Women and girls are also lured to Cote d’Ivoire from Ghana and Nigeria with promises of jobs such as waitressing in restaurants and bars, selling clothing, or skills training, and are subsequently subjected to forced prostitution. During the year, an international organization reported receiving an Ivorian trafficking victim who had been forced into domestic servitude in Tunisia. There were reports that children may have been recruited, at times by force, into armed groups loyal to both Gbagbo and Ouattara.

Recommendations for Cote d’Ivoire: Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders, particularly those who exploit children in the commercial sex trade or in forced labor, including in the agricultural sector; train judges and magistrates on the provisions of the new child trafficking law, as well as on existing legislation that criminalizes the trafficking of adults; form a basic government structure, such as a committee or task force with an allocated budget, to coordinate the government’s anti-trafficking efforts across ministries; complete construction on two government-run shelters intended to care for trafficking victims; take steps to integrate screening, separation, and reintegration of any children that may be associated with security forces, militias, and armed groups into overall security sector reform; and train law enforcement officials to identify potential victims among vulnerable populations, such as women and girls in prostitution, and to refer them to protective services.

Government Efforts: While the Government of Cote d’Ivoire enacted legislation to address child trafficking, it did not prosecute or convict trafficking offenders using existing legislation during the reporting period. In September 2010, the government passed Law No. 2010-272 Pertaining to the Prohibition of Child Trafficking and the Worst Forms of Child Labor, its first specific law punishing trafficking offenses. Although most criminal acts covered under this law were already proscribed under various articles of the country’s penal code, the new law increases penalties for compelling or offering children for prostitution to five to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine; these penalties are sufficiently stringent, but not commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. The law’s penalty for submitting a child to forced labor, or situations akin to bondage or slavery, is 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine, punishments which are sufficiently stringent. Penal Code Article 378 prohibits the forced labor of adults and children, prescribing a sufficiently stringent penalty of one to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of approximately $800 to $2,200. Article 376 criminalizes entering into contracts that deny freedom to a third person, prescribing a punishment of five to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine. Pimping and exploitation of adults and children in prostitution by means of force, violence, or abuse is outlawed by Articles 335-336. The Criminal Police Unit reportedly arrested and investigated six persons suspected of human trafficking during the reporting period, four of whom remain in prison awaiting trial. Efforts to obtain additional information about these cases were unsuccessful.

The Ivoirian government made inadequate efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the year. Law enforcement authorities did not demonstrate adequate efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, such as foreign children entering the country without their parents or working in agriculture, though some victims were identified and referred to NGOs for care. One NGO shelter for trafficking victims cared for five victims, three of whom were Togolese, referred by the Police and the Ministry of Interior’s Brigade de Mineurs during the year. The Ministry of Social Affairs referred 50 girls who had been exploited in domestic servitude to another NGO-run shelter. The government had no care facilities for foreign or domestic trafficking victims, and did not provide financial or material support to the NGOs it relied on to care for victims. Prior to the political crisis in October 2010, it had planned to build two shelters for trafficking victims, which were to be co-managed by the Ministries of Family and Labor. The Ministry of Family donated land to the project and the government allocated half of the approximately $210,000 necessary to complete the project, but construction did not begin and was later postponed indefinitely as a result of the political crisis. It is not known whether trafficking victims were detained or prosecuted for acts committed as a result of their being trafficked, nor whether the government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenses.

The government demonstrated negligible efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. It did not launch any campaigns to educate the public on the dangers of human trafficking. In the previous reporting period, a presidential decree established an independent coordinating body (service autonome) within the Ministry of Labor and Civil Service charged with addressing child labor. The office became operational in June 2010, but lacks a budget and does not appear to have taken any action since that time. While the service autonome was envisioned as the coordinating body for all government efforts against child trafficking, the National Committee for the Fight against Trafficking, chaired by a representative of the Ministry of Social Affairs, is currently responsible for issues of child trafficking. Discussions regarding coordinating the efforts of these two bodies were not completed. The government did not take any measures to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts during the year. The government took steps to establish the identity of local populations by reinstating its issuance of identification cards to 5.7 million citizens over the age of 18. Cote d’Ivoire is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

HAITI (Special Case)

The massive physical destruction in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, including the destruction of governmental buildings, equipment, and loss of personnel, and the continued lack of fundamental infrastructure throughout the government, severely limited the government’s ability to function in many areas, including in areas of law enforcement, social services and border control. This had a similarly limiting effect upon the government’s ability to address trafficking in persons. For these reasons, Haiti remains a Special Case for the sixth consecutive year. The extreme impact of the earthquake on the operational capacity of the Haitian government persisted throughout 2010 and into 2011. Twelve out of the 13 ministries collapsed in the earthquake, none of which have been rebuilt. Hundreds of civil servants and technocrats were killed, taking with them institutional knowledge and experience, and files were lost or destroyed. The Haitian government’s ministries operated out of tents and in overcrowded makeshift buildings. Although Haiti has a significant child trafficking problem, the Haitian National Police Brigade for Protection of Minors (BPM), responsible for investigating crimes against children has a minimal staff of 35 for the entire country, and lacks vehicles or investigational materials to inspect childcare facilities around the country. Border patrol lacks capacity to monitor the four official border crossings effectively, let alone the entire territorial border. Finally, the justice system is largely non-functional, as detention backlogs go back years, and few cases advance without some form of bribes or political pressure. The slow pace of reconstruction after the earthquake and the lack of government infrastructure obstructed basic government efforts to address trafficking in the country.

The following background and recommendations are provided to guide government officials and organizations working on anti-trafficking initiatives in Haiti.

Scope and Magnitude: Haiti is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The Haitian National Police and local NGOs reported an increase in alleged cases of forced labor and sex trafficking of children and adults since the earthquake. Young children without family support or secure housing appear to be increasingly at risk. The majority of trafficking cases are found among the estimated 173,000 to 225,000 restaveks —the term for the practice of child domestic servitude—in Haiti. The majority of children become restaveks when recruiters arrange for them to live with families in other cities and towns in the hope of going to school. Restaveks are treated differently from other non-biological children living in households; in addition to involuntary servitude, restaveks are particularly vulnerable to beatings, sexual assaults, and other abuses by family members in the homes in which they are residing. Restaveks are often dismissed when they become teenagers or difficult to control. Dismissed and runaway restaveks make up a significant proportion of the large population of street children, who frequently are subjected to sex trafficking or street crime by violent criminal gangs. Since the earthquake, local shelters have received a record number of restaveks. Many are also living in internally displaced persons camps.

Representatives from NGOs monitoring the Haitian-Dominican border reported that children frequently cross the border illegally, often in the company of an adult who is not the child’s parent or guardian. This adult is generally paid approximately three dollars to pretend to be the child’s parent until they get to the other side of the border. Some of these children are taken to be reunited with parents working in the Dominican Republic, but others are believed to be going to work in organized begging rings or in domestic servitude. Haitian men, women, and children also are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking in the Dominican Republic, other Caribbean countries, the United States, and South America.

Government Efforts: In a positive step, Haitian officials recognized that human trafficking, including the exploitation of restavek children, is a serious problem in the country; however, the lack of legislation prohibiting all forms of trafficking was a major obstacle to progress. The absence of legislation also contributed to confusion among elements of the Haitian government and some of its international donors among the crimes of human smuggling, human trafficking, and illegal adoption. Legislation criminalizing all forms of human trafficking has been pending in Parliament for several years. A draft bill on trafficking has been presented to Parliament for consideration in the next session, which is expected to occur near the end of the reporting period. The Haitian justice system did not make advances in prosecuting traffickers during the reporting period. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions or convictions of trafficking offenders in Haiti. The BPM was severely understaffed and lacking in resources such as vehicles and computers, like many Haitian National Police units. The BPM, however, did refer cases, including cases of child domestic servitude, to the prosecutor’s office, where they often languished as part of Haiti’s large case backlog. The Haitian National Police provided a handbook for police cadets, written in collaboration with Interpol, on sex trafficking.

The government lacked formal victim identification and assistance policies and resources. Shelter services for adult trafficking victims did not exist. The government’s social welfare agency worked well with NGOs to identify and refer some child victims to donor-funded NGOs who provided shelter, food, medical, and psychosocial support. One NGO, with international donor support, screened approximately 14,000 children during the reporting period and registered 200 of them as potential victims of child trafficking. The children were transferred into the social welfare agency’s custody, and over 100 of them were reunited with their families. Haiti’s border with the Dominican Republic was not well-monitored, but at the four designated border crossings, Haitian officers worked with NGO child protection officers (who have been seconded to the police) to screen children passing through the border for possible trafficking. In December 2010, police stopped a truck with four men and seven children in a suspected trafficking situation and worked with the NGO to reunite the children with their families.

Prevention efforts have been largely NGO-driven. The government did not register all births immediately and did not keep statistics concerning the number of births unregistered each year, increasing children’s vulnerability to human trafficking. Haiti is not a popular destination for international child sex tourism; however, there were many foreign nationals in the country for non-tourist purposes, and there were some incidents of foreigners procuring child commercial sex acts. The government of Haiti worked with the Canadian government to deport a child rapist to Canada for prosecution.

A divergent definition of trafficking in persons within the NGO community further hindered coordinated anti-trafficking strategies. There have been reports of duplication of anti-trafficking efforts by international organizations unaware of local mechanisms already in place.

Recommendations for Haiti: Enact legislation criminalizing sex trafficking and all forms of forced labor, including domestic servitude, with penalties that are proportionate to the seriousness of the crime committed; in partnership with NGOs, adopt and employ formal procedures to guide officials in proactive victim identification and referral of victims to available services; provide in-kind support for victim services; consider partnerships with NGOs to establish and support community based social workers as protection and prevention measures; and improve access to quality education for all children.

SOMALIA (Special Case)

Somalia remains a Special Case for a ninth consecutive year due to the lack of a viable central government since 1991. Control of its geographic area is divided among the self-declared independent Republic of Somaliland, the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, and the remainder of the country nominally under the control of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Somalia currently lacks a national governing structure that could assume responsibility for addressing the country’s human trafficking problem. During the reporting period, fighting continued between TFG troops, allied militias, and African Union forces against anti-TFG forces, terrorist groups, and extremist elements. The TFG remained preoccupied with the task of securing government representatives and installations from attacks by such elements; in this perpetual state of insecurity the government was not able to address human trafficking. In addition, the TFG currently lacks the necessary means to identify, investigate, and address systemic issues in Somalia, including those related to forced labor and forced prostitution; its capacity to address human trafficking will not significantly increase without tangible progress in re-establishing governance and stability in Somalia.

Information regarding trafficking in Somalia remains extremely difficult to obtain or verify; however, the Somali territory is believed to be a source and transit country for men, women, and children who are subjected to conditions of forced labor and sex trafficking. As in previous years, trafficking victims were primarily trafficked within the country, from Somalia’s south and central regions to the Puntland and Somaliland regions. Sources note a rise in reported trafficking cases during the reporting period. Somali women and girls may have been subject to sex trafficking in Garowe, the Puntland-administered part of Las Anod (Sool region), and pirate towns such as Eyl and Harardheere. Sources report a clearer link between piracy and human trafficking during the reporting period; girls are reportedly taken from coastal regions, particularly Bossaso, and placed in pirates’ homes to be exploited in domestic and sexual servitude. Some female brothel owners, who can profit as much as $50 per client, kept victims in harsh conditions and meted out physical abuse as a means of compelling victims to work. There was reportedly an increase in the use of drugs to render victims unconscious during transport. In Somali society, certain groups are traditionally viewed as inferior and are marginalized; Somali Bantus and Midgaan are sometimes kept in servitude by more powerful Somali clan members as domestic workers, farm laborers, and herders.

Due to an inability to provide care for all family members, some desperate Somalis willingly surrender custody of their children to people with whom they share family relations and clan linkages; some of these children may become victims of forced labor or sex trafficking. While most child laborers work within their households or family business, some children may be forced into labor in agriculture, herding livestock, or in the construction industry.

Human smuggling is widespread in Somalia and evidence suggests that traffickers utilize the same networks and methods as those used by smugglers. Men, women, and children in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps or congregated along coastal areas hoping to be smuggled to Europe or the Middle East remained particularly vulnerable to trafficking. There were reports of trafficking offenders preying on young women and children, mostly IDPs from South and Central Somalia, at marketplaces and in the streets, falsely promising them lucrative jobs outside Somalia. Dubious employment agencies facilitate human trafficking, targeting individuals desiring to migrate to the Gulf states for employment. Somali women are smuggled, sometimes via Djibouti, to destinations in the Middle East, including Yemen and Syria, as well as to Sudan and South Africa, where they are subjected to conditions of domestic servitude and forced prostitution. Somali men are subjected to conditions of forced labor as herdsmen and menial workers in the Gulf states. Somali children are reportedly smuggled to Saudi Arabia through Yemen for forced begging. Members of the Somali diaspora use fake offers of marriage to lure unsuspecting victims, many of whom are relatives, to Europe or the United States, where they are forced into commercial sexual exploitation. For example, in November 2010, U.S. authorities indicted 29 Somali gang members for prostituting four girls – including one 12-year-old – in several U.S. states. Ethiopian women are smuggled through Somalia to Yemen and onward to other destinations in the Middle East where they are forced into domestic servitude and prostitution.

According to the UN, the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict has been increasing over the past two years; although the exact figure is unknown, UN sources estimate that there are several hundred children in the forces of the TFG or its associated militias, and several thousand among the insurgent groups. Youth under the age of 18 continued to be recruited, including by force and deception, for direct participation in hostilities in central and southern Somalia. During the reporting period, extremist groups al-Shabaab and Hisbul Islam merged and jointly used systematic force and deception to target vulnerable children, sometimes as young as eight years old, for membership in their militias. These forces reportedly increased recruitment at schools and other educational facilities during the reporting period; al-Shabaab threatened to punish teachers and parents who refused to send their children to the training camps. The groups used children to plant roadside bombs and other explosive devices in addition to carrying out assassinations, portering, and domestic servitude. In Kismayo, Baidoa, and Merka, al-Shabaab obligated all boys 15 years of age and older to fight or face death; in November, al-Shabaab executed two children in Hurwaa District of Banadir region. Al-Shabaab also continued to forcibly recruit young girls who were then “married” to its militia leaders and used for sexual servitude, logistical support, and intelligence gathering. While the TFG’s military reportedly improved its recruitment practices to prevent conscription of child soldiers into government ranks, UN sources reported that the TFG and its allied militias continued to unlawfully use children throughout the reporting period in their fighting forces. Without established birth registration systems, it remained difficult to determine the exact age of persons conscripted into armed groups.

The respective authorities operating in Somalia’s three regions made few concrete efforts to address human trafficking during the reporting period; there was generally a lack of anti-trafficking efforts on all fronts – prosecution, protection, and prevention – in all regions of Somalia. There is a severe lack of capacity in every part of the country to adequately address the problem. Understanding of human trafficking and how to identify and address it remained low among government officials and the general population. TFG officials recognized trafficking as a problem, but acknowledged that it is not a priority.

None of the three regions have laws that specifically prohibit human trafficking, though the pre-1991 penal code outlaws forced and compulsory labor and local laws prohibit forced labor, involuntary servitude, and slavery in Somaliland. In December 2010, the Puntland Parliament enacted provisions prohibiting and punishing offenses under Islamic law when smugglers cause the death of smuggled or trafficked persons, prescribing punishments of between one and five years’ imprisonment. However, there is neither a unified police force in the territory to enforce these laws, nor any authoritative legal system through which trafficking offenders could be prosecuted. There were no known prosecutions or convictions of human trafficking offenses, including by traditional or Shari’a courts, during the reporting period. Despite the existence of laws protecting children from conditions of forced labor, authorities did not enforce these against child traffickers. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for government officials and made no known efforts to investigate, prosecute, or punish government officials involved in trafficking offenses.

The government did not provide any protection services to victims of trafficking. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and local organizations began providing rented houses and reintegration services to rescued trafficking victims in Bossaso, Puntland. These facilities were dedicated to trafficking victims and accessible to male and female Somali and foreign victims. These organizations also placed child victims with families for care. During the reporting period, IOM and its local partners provided medical and psychological assistance, food, clothes, vocational training, and seed money for establishing small businesses to 10 victims of trafficking – eight in Puntland and two in Somaliland. IOM reported that clan elders brought a total of 50 suspected trafficking victims in Somaliland and Puntland to its attention. The government did not provide financial or in-kind assistance to these organizations. Government authorities did not utilize formal procedures to identify and protect victims of trafficking or refer them to available protection services. The government also did not provide assistance to any Somali nationals who were repatriated as victims of trafficking.

During the reporting period, there were no reports of formal conscription or forced recruitment of persons under the age of 18 into the TFG, Somaliland, or Puntland armed forces. During a November 2010 visit by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict, the TFG prime minister promised to investigate all reports of child soldiers, some of who may be trafficking victims, in the TFG army and, if found, to demobilize them. Also in December, the TFG named a Focal Point for Human Rights and Children with responsibility for addressing child soldier issues. Throughout the reporting period, the TFG also continued to improve its recruitment practices and participate in formal troop training to stop child soldier recruitment, including conscription. New recruits, trained in Uganda and Djibouti, were thoroughly vetted, and child soldiers were removed from the new units upon return to the country. However, there are reports that the TFG and allied forces continued to use a small number of children in armed service, some of whom may have been involuntary conscripts.

The government made no known efforts to prevent trafficking in persons. During the reporting period, the government did not conduct anti-trafficking information or education campaigns or make any discernible efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. Neither Somali national nor regional authorities implemented any programs to address forced child labor or provided assistance to non-governmental organizations to do so. Somalia is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.