MADAGASCAR: Tier 2
Madagascar is a source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Malagasy children, mostly from rural areas, are subjected to prostitution, domestic servitude, and forced labor in mining, fishing, and agriculture within the country. Most child sex trafficking occurs with the involvement of family members, but friends, transport operators, tour guides, and hotel workers also facilitate the trafficking of children. Informal employment agencies recruit child domestic workers who are subsequently subjected to forced labor. Some children are fraudulently recruited for work in the capital as waitresses, maids, and masseuses before being exploited in prostitution. Government officials, NGOs, and international observers report child sexual exploitation continues to be widespread in the coastal cities of Toamasina, Toliara, Antsiranana, Nosy Be, Mahajanga, and Fort-Dauphin—top tourist destinations. Over the past three years, prostitution of boys has emerged as a growing problem. Child prostitution is prevalent, particularly around the formal and informal mining sites of Toamasina and Illakaka, respectively. Malagasy men are the main clients of prostituted children, while most child sex tourists are French and Italian nationals, with some reports of sexual exploitation of children by other Western nationals and Comorans.
It is estimated that thousands of Malagasy women are employed as domestic workers in Lebanon, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia; a smaller number of workers seek employment in Jordan, Mauritius, and Seychelles. Many of the women migrating are illiterate single mothers from rural areas and vulnerable to deception and abuse by recruitment agencies and employers. Trafficking victims returning from Gulf countries report various forms of abuse and exploitation. Reports suggest Malagasy men in the Middle East also endure exploitation through forced labor in the service and construction sectors. Malagasy women continue to be sent to China with falsified identity cards and exploited in forced labor and sold as brides. Malagasy men have been subjected to forced labor aboard Chinese-flagged fishing vessels in South Africa’s territorial waters. NGOs report government officials’ complicity in obtaining falsified national identity cards, which facilitates the sexual exploitation of children for commercial sex in Madagascar and the domestic servitude of Malagasy women abroad. Reports indicate public officials purchase sexual services from children in Antananarivo and Nosy Be, primarily in child sex tourism destinations. Police allegedly encourage financial arrangements between victims and their offenders, rather than pursuing charges, which perpetuates impunity.
The Government of Madagascar does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. It adopted a five-year national action plan and established a National Bureau to Combat Human Trafficking, a new coordinating structure that it pledged to support with staff and a budget. The government also passed a new comprehensive anti-trafficking law, and prosecutors secured the first three convictions under the new law in the two months following its promulgation. The government also secured its first three labor trafficking convictions under the 2007 anti-trafficking act, bringing the total number of trafficking convictions during the reporting period to six. Overall, authorities investigated 187 cases of sexual exploitation of children, an increase from the 68 trafficking cases the previous year. The government continued to lack formal procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and did not systematically provide services or refer victims to NGOs for care. The government made efforts to work with transit countries to prevent labor trafficking, but it failed to make headway with destination country governments on protection and legal remedies for exploited Malagasy workers. There were reports that officials were complicit in trafficking, though the government did not investigate or prosecute officials allegedly responsible for these offenses. Nonetheless, one high-ranking official, who had been criticized for failing to protect trafficking victims and suspected of corruption, was removed from his position.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MADAGASCAR:
Implement the new anti-trafficking legislation to investigate and prosecute all trafficking offenses; provide adequate funding to the National Bureau to Combat Trafficking and promote coordination between the bureau, NGOs, and international partners; increase efforts to raise public awareness of labor trafficking, including the labor trafficking of adults; develop formal procedures for and provide training to officials on how to adequately identify victims, investigate cases, and refer victims to appropriate services; monitor and regulate recruitment agencies and bolster consular services in the Middle East; work with destination country governments to guarantee protections for Malagasy domestic workers and jointly address cases of abuse; improve data collection on law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking, including the number of victims identified, cases investigated and prosecuted, and the number of convictions of trafficking offenders with those governments; and vigorously investigate and prosecute government officials suspected of complicity and seek convictions and adequate punishments.
The government demonstrated some progress in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. In December 2014, the National Assembly passed updated anti-trafficking legislation—Law No. 2014-040—broadening the scope of the previous legislation to cover sexual exploitation, labor trafficking, forced labor, forced begging, and debt bondage. The new law imposes stringent penalties for trafficking offenses, ranging from two to five years of imprisonment and a 1-10 million ariary ($385-3,850) fine, and stiffer penalties of five to ten years of imprisonment and fines ranging from 2-10 million ariary ($ 770-3,850) for trafficking crimes committed against children. The new legislation complements the previous Anti-Trafficking Law No.2007-038, which prescribes punishments for sex trafficking, ranging from two years’ to life imprisonment, which is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes such as rape.
During the reporting period, the National Police’s Morals and Minors Brigade investigated 187 cases of sexual exploitation of children between the ages of 5 and 18, some of which may have included trafficking, an increase from the 68 trafficking cases investigated the year prior. Fifteen cases of labor trafficking were prosecuted. In one case, the government prosecuted 11 alleged traffickers for the illicit recruitment of migrant workers; three were convicted of trafficking offenses under Law 2007-038 but sentenced only to two-year suspended prison sentences and fines of 1 million ariary ($385), which is an inadequate deterrent for traffickers. The government prosecuted seven other suspected traffickers under the new 2014 anti-trafficking law and obtained three convictions. There were six convictions reported for the year. Total national statistics on prosecutions and convictions remained difficult to track, due to a lack of coordination between law enforcement and the courts and poor record keeping; therefore, there may have been additional prosecutions and convictions. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses, despite widespread corruption and allegations of complicity.
The government sustained efforts to protect victims. It continued to lack formal procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and did not systematically provide services or refer victims for care. The Ministry of Population and Social Affairs, in collaboration with an international organization, continued to coordinate approximately 450 child protection networks across the country. These networks are mandated to protect children from various forms of abuse and exploitation, as well as ensure access to medical and psychosocial services for victims. However, the care was at times inadequate, the standard of care was uneven from one region to another, and it remained unclear if some of the networks provided services to trafficking victims during the reporting year. Officials continued to operate and fund the Manjary Soa Center in Antananarivo, which removed 35 child victims from situations of exploitative labor and sex trafficking. The center provided medical care and, based on the ages of the victims, either reintegrated them into the public school system or provided vocational training. On March 4, with support from an international organization, the Vonjy Center was launched at the Befalatana public hospital in the capital as part of an integrated approach to victim care, designed to address the needs of victims of sexual violence including trafficking victims. With medical providers, social workers, and two elements of the minors brigade permanently posted under one roof, this assistance center is designed to address the needs of victims of sexual violence, including trafficking victims. There were no reports the government arrested or punished trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking, yet three children were committed to a group home for obtaining false documents with the intent of working abroad. The government remained without formal procedures to encourage victims to assist law enforcement in the prosecution of their traffickers; however, the police reported some victims were active participants in the investigations of their alleged traffickers. Under the new anti-trafficking legislation passed December 2014, victims are guaranteed compensation for reintegration and medical care; this provision had not yet been implemented during the reporting period, reportedly due to a lack of funding.
During the reporting period, many trafficking victims continued to return from the Middle East, where they were subjected to various forms of abuse while working in domestic service. The government failed to engage with foreign governments regarding the protection of and legal remedies for exploited Malagasy workers. However, it did make modest efforts to assist in the repatriation of eight Malagasy migrants from Comoros, Mauritius, and Ethiopia. Upon repatriation, the vast majority of Malagasy trafficking victims arrived destitute and in need of psychological and medical services; the government failed to provide victims with resources or assistance and continued to rely heavily on NGO support.
The government continued efforts to prevent trafficking. During the reporting year, the government formally adopted a five-year national action plan to combat human trafficking and pledged to commit staff and 38.95 million ariary ($15,000) toward its implementation in 2015. On March 3, the government adopted a decree creating the National Bureau to Combat Human Trafficking, which will coordinate the implementation of the national action plan, determine policy, and monitor prosecution of human trafficking cases. The newly adopted decree requires an annual budget line for the bureau, as part of the national budget. A 2013 ban on domestic worker travel to high risk countries remained in place during the reporting period, which according to officials, led to a decrease in the number of migrant workers leaving for Gulf countries; however, illicit recruiting agencies continue to circumvent the ban by sending workers through Mauritius, Kenya, South Africa, and Comoros, and NGOs continued to report trafficking victims in Gulf countries and Malagasy women trafficked and sold as brides in China. The government did not make efforts to improve its oversight of recruitment agencies.
During the reporting year, the national Gendarmerie established a specialized unit focusing on child protection. A new tourist police branch was also formed to patrol beaches and other areas popular for child sex tourism in September 2014. The Ministry of Tourism posted warnings against child sex tourism in establishments across the country, and the Ministry of Population and Ministry of Communication carried out an awareness campaign entitled “Break the Silence” in Toliara, one of the high-risk cities for trafficking, between June 2013 and May 2014. The police continued to operate a national hotline to report child exploitation cases, but due to a lack of specificity in data collection, the number of resulting trafficking cases remained undetermined. Officials continued to partner with local NGOs and international organizations to implement a code of conduct to combat the commercial exploitation of children in the Nosy Be and Toliara tourism industry, but It had yet to be disseminated across the country. The government provided training on combating trafficking in persons to law enforcement, judges, and civil society, as well as general guidance to diplomatic personnel on preventing trafficking based on local laws. The government did not make any tangible efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor during the reporting period.