Cote d’Ivoire is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Trafficking within the country is more prevalent than transnational trafficking, and the majority of victims that have been identified are children. Due to a stronger emphasis on monitoring and combating child trafficking within the country, the number of adults subjected to trafficking may be underreported. Within Cote d’Ivoire, Ivoirian women and girls are subjected primarily to forced labor in domestic service and restaurants, as well as to forced prostitution. Ivoirian boys are subjected to forced labor within the country in the agriculture and service sectors. Boys from other West African countries, including Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Togo, are found in Cote d’Ivoire in forced agricultural labor, including on cocoa, coffee, pineapple, and rubber plantations; in the mining sector; and in carpentry and construction. Girls recruited from Ghana, Togo, and Benin work as domestic servants, and street vendors often are subjected to forced labor. Some women and girls who are recruited from Ghana and Nigeria to work as waitresses in restaurants and bars are subsequently subjected to forced prostitution. Ivoirian women and girls have been subjected to forced domestic service in France and Saudi Arabia. During the reporting period, Ivoirian women were subjected to sex trafficking in Morocco.
The Government of Cote d’Ivoire does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government increased efforts to address child trafficking by increasing prosecutions of child trafficking offenses, increasing convictions of trafficking offenders, and identifying more child trafficking victims than in 2012. However, the government continued to fail to demonstrate any tangible efforts to address adult trafficking. It did not report any law enforcement efforts against adult trafficking cases, identify or provide any protection to adult victims, or finalize or adopt a national action plan to combat adult trafficking for the third year in a row.
Recommendations for Cote d’Ivoire:
Develop and enact legislation to criminalize all forms of adult trafficking, and use this and existing legislation to prosecute traffickers, particularly those who exploit women in prostitution and men in forced labor; train law enforcement officials to follow established procedures to identify potential trafficking victims and refer them to protective services; establish a formal victim referral mechanism between the government, NGOs, and international organizations providing care to trafficking victims; increase efforts to provide victims with appropriate services, including the dedication of specific funding for such services and the development of government-run shelters; improve efforts to collect law enforcement data on trafficking offenses, including cases involving the trafficking of adults who are prosecuted under separate statutes in the penal code, and make this data available to other government agencies and the general public; and finalize and begin implementation of a national action plan to address adult trafficking.
The Government of Cote d’Ivoire demonstrated increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts to combat child trafficking, but did not demonstrate tangible efforts to address adult trafficking. Law No. 2010-272 Pertaining to the Prohibition of Child Trafficking and the Worst Forms of Child Labor, enacted in September 2010, prescribes penalties for compelling children into or offering them for prostitution of 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 the equivalent 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 are outlawed by Articles 335 and 336. In December 2011, the Labor Advisory Board received a draft decree prohibiting and prescribing punishments for involuntary domestic servitude; it did not finalize or issue the decree during the reporting period.
During the reporting period, the government reported nine investigations of trafficking offenses, 23 prosecutions, and 11 convictions; this represents an increase from 2012, when the government reported 15 investigations, eight prosecutions, and two convictions. All 23 prosecutions involved child trafficking. Nine of the convicted trafficking were sentenced under Cote d’Ivoire’s anti-trafficking law to 12 months’ imprisonment and a fine of the equivalent of approximately $1,000; sentencing information on the additional two traffickers was unavailable. However, no law enforcement efforts were taken to address adult trafficking during the reporting period.
The government, in collaboration with NGOs and international organizations, provided training for social workers, labor inspectors, police officers, and gendarmes. However, all training efforts focused on child trafficking and there remains a lack of knowledge and understanding of adult trafficking among government officials. The government did not report any investigations or prosecutions of officials for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the year; however, reports indicate that corruption among police and gendarme forces may have facilitated trafficking in 2013.
The Ivoirian government sustained modest efforts to identify and protect child victims of trafficking, but did not demonstrate tangible efforts to identify or protect any adult victims. It reported the identification of 45 child trafficking victims in 2013; 28 of the children were foreign nationals and 17 were Ivoirian. NGOs and international organizations in Cote d’Ivoire identified an additional 156 child victims. The government did not provide adequate care to victims of trafficking and relied almost exclusively on services provided by NGOs and international partners; given the government’s substantial dedication of resources to implement its anti-trafficking activities, the amount allocated to the protection of victims was severely inadequate. The government did not operate any formal care centers exclusively for victims of trafficking, nor did it have a formalized referral mechanism in place between itself and local NGOs. The government provided limited financial support to an NGO-run shelter for children in emergency situations; some trafficking victims may have used this shelter. During the reporting period, the Ministry of Solidarity, Family, Women, and Children identified, rescued, and provided repatriation assistance to twelve child trafficking victims from Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali.
The Government of Cote d’Ivoire did not have a formal policy in place to encourage victims’ voluntary participation in investigations and prosecutions of their traffickers; however, some victims did participate in the investigations and prosecutions of their traffickers during the reporting period. While the government lacked a formal policy for repatriating foreign victims, it typically cooperated with the victim’s embassy, consulate, or local community leaders of the same nationality regarding repatriation. There were no reports that victims were detained, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; however, the lack of formal identification procedures for adult trafficking victims likely resulted in some adult victims remaining unidentified in the law enforcement system.
The Government of Cote d’Ivoire demonstrated sustained efforts to prevent child trafficking, but failed to demonstrate tangible efforts to prevent adult trafficking. The National Monitoring Committee (NMC) and the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), established in 2011, continued to serve as the national coordinating bodies on trafficking in persons issues; however, both committees focused almost entirely on child trafficking. The committees continued to meet regularly to implement the 2012-2014 National Action Plan on Child Labor and Trafficking; the government provided the equivalent of approximately $10.8 million for implementation of this action plan in 2013. A national action plan to address adult trafficking was not finalized during the reporting period.
The NMC completed the second phase of a nationwide awareness campaign, originally launched in September 2012, which included TV and local radio information spots, 100 billboards, and the distribution of illustrated pamphlets in French and five local languages to explain the new child anti-trafficking law and to educate the public on how to take action against the worst forms of child labor. Additionally, the governments of Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso entered into a bilateral cooperative agreement against cross-border child trafficking in October 2013. The government launched a monitoring and evaluation system designed to collect and analyze statistical data on child trafficking and worst forms of child labor, coordinate the efforts of different actors involved in the fight against child labor, and provide regular reports. The government did not demonstrate efforts to address local demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period.