COTE D’IVOIRE: Tier 2
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 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 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 subjected to forced labor. Some women and girls recruited from Ghana and Nigeria to work as waitresses in restaurants and bars are subsequently subjected to forced prostitution. In previous years, Ivoirian women and girls have been subjected to forced domestic service in France and Saudi Arabia and 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 demonstrated a new commitment to address adult trafficking by prosecuting and convicting two traffickers for the forced prostitution of two women, creating a working-level committee and national action plan on adult trafficking, and drafting legislation to criminalize adult trafficking. However, the government did not finalize the national action plan or the draft legislation during the reporting period. Additionally, the government demonstrated weak protection efforts, to which it allocated inadequate resources; furthermore, it relied almost entirely on NGOs to provide all protective services to domestic victims and referred foreign victims immediately to their respective embassies for repatriation without providing any care.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COTE D’IVOIRE:
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 data on anti-trafficking efforts, including law enforcement cases involving the trafficking of adults prosecuted under separate statutes in the penal code as well as victim protection data; and finalize and begin implementation of a national action plan to address adult trafficking.
The government demonstrated increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. 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 ranging from 500,000 to 50,000,000 Central African CFA francs (FCFA) ($1,000 to $100,000); these penalties are sufficiently stringent, but not commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. The law’s penalty for subjecting 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 360,000 to 1,000,000 FCFA ($720 to $2,000). 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 of 500,000 to 5,000,000 FCFA ($1,000 to $10,000). Pimping and exploitation of adults and children in prostitution by means of force, violence, or abuse are outlawed by Articles 335 and 336. In November 2014, the Ministry of Solidarity drafted legislation that criminalizes adult trafficking; however, the law was not finalized or enacted during the reporting period.
The government reported an unknown number of investigations, 25 prosecutions, and 17 convictions in 2014, compared with nine investigations, 23 prosecutions, and 11 convictions reported in 2013. Of the 25 prosecutions, 23 involved alleged traffickers prosecuted for child trafficking under the 2010 child trafficking law; Ivorian courts convicted 15 traffickers in these cases, with penalties ranging from 3 months’ to 10 years’ imprisonment. The two remaining prosecutions involved two Nigerian traffickers who subjected two Nigerian adults to forced prostitution in the mining region; Ivorian courts sentenced the two traffickers to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 1,000,000 FCFA ($1,860) for pimping and corruption under the penal code. The government allocated 3,600,000 FCFA ($7,000) to the National Police’s Anti-Trafficking Unit, which remained severely underfunded. The government did not provide any specific anti-trafficking training to law enforcement officials. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses; however, NGOs and media reports indicate that corruption among police and gendarmes may have facilitated trafficking in 2014. Additionally, in 2013, allegations arose that an Ivorian diplomat stationed in Copenhagen subjected his domestic employee to forced labor and sexual abuse; the diplomat voluntarily left his posting in June 2013 when Danish authorities threatened prosecution, but the Ivorian government did not take any further disciplinary action against the diplomat during the reporting period.
The government demonstrated minimal efforts to identify and protect victims. Given the government’s substantial dedication of resources to anti-trafficking activities, the amount allocated to the protection of victims was severely inadequate. The government did not compile accurate victim identification records, and therefore, the precise number of victims identified is unknown. The Ministry of Solidarity identified approximately 60 child victims of trafficking from Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, and Guinea in 2014; however, it is unclear whether the government provided these victims any protective services or referred them to organizations that did so. International partners identified two adult Nigerian women, who the government later referred to NGO care; an international organization assisted in the repatriation of the victims. The government did not operate any formal care centers exclusively for trafficking victims and relied almost exclusively on NGOs and international partners to provide victim care. It did not have a formal mechanism to refer victims to the care of local NGOs, which reported a significant lack of coordination among ministries responsible for administering victim services. Although foreign victims reportedly have the same access to care, in practice, the government generally referred foreign victims to their respective embassies for repatriation, rather than providing them with shelter or services. There were no reports that the government detained, fined, or jailed victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; 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 sustained modest efforts to prevent trafficking. The National Monitoring Committee (NMC) and the Inter-Ministerial Committee, established in 2011, continued to serve as the national coordinating bodies on child trafficking issues. The committees met regularly throughout the reporting period and began revising the national action plan on child labor and trafficking, which expired in 2014; however, they failed to finalize the updated national action plan by the close of the reporting period. The NMC continued a nationwide awareness campaign, 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 child anti-trafficking law and to educate the public on how to take action against the worst forms of child labor. In November 2014, the government created a working-level committee to focus on adult trafficking. The committee met four times during the reporting period and, in coordination with an international partner, approved a draft national action plan on adult trafficking; the committee did not finalize or adopt this plan during the reporting period. The government did not demonstrate efforts to address local demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor during the reporting period. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel or peacekeepers deployed abroad during the reporting period.