BURKINA FASO: Tier 2
Burkina Faso is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Burkinabe children are subjected to forced labor as farm hands, gold panners and washers, street vendors, domestic servants, and forced begging by unscrupulous Koranic school teachers; girls are exploited in sex trafficking. Burkinabe children are transported to Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, and Niger for forced labor or sex trafficking. To a lesser extent, traffickers recruit women for ostensibly legitimate employment in Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and various European countries but subject them to forced prostitution. Burkina Faso is a transit country for traffickers transporting children from Mali to Cote d’Ivoire, and is a destination for children subjected to trafficking from neighboring countries, including Ghana, Guinea, Mali, and Nigeria. Women from other West African countries are fraudulently recruited for employment in Burkina Faso and subsequently subjected to forced prostitution, forced labor in restaurants, or domestic servitude in private homes. In recent years, Nepalese traffickers have subjected Tibetan women to sex trafficking in Burkina Faso. During the reporting period, women and girls from Cote d’Ivoire were discovered in Burkina Faso en route to Saudi Arabia, where they allegedly would have faced domestic servitude. Reports from an international organization contend 10 Burkinabe peacekeepers deployed to the UN mission in Mali may have engaged in sexual exploitation.
The Government of Burkina Faso does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government reported an increased number of prosecutions and convictions of trafficking offenders, made some modest efforts to address unregistered Koranic schools that subject students to forced begging, and continued to train authorities and social workers on victim protection. It also increased its funding for victim services. Despite identifying seven alleged traffickers posing as Koranic school teachers, however, there is no evidence the government initiated investigations into the traffickers; victim protection measures remained inadequate, especially long-term services and services for adults; and the national anti-trafficking committee remained inactive for a second consecutive year.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BURKINA FASO:
Vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders—including traffickers posing as Koranic school teachers—and apply penalties prescribed by the 2008 anti-trafficking law; increase resources for victims, including social reintegration, to prevent additional trafficking among identified victims; expand training for law enforcement officials to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution and children working in agriculture and mining, and refer them to protective services; increase the availability of shelter and services for all victims, including adults; strengthen the system for collecting anti-trafficking law enforcement and victim identification data, and ensure that authorities responsible for data collection receive adequate resources; investigate trafficking allegations that do not involve movement; improve coordination among the national and regional anti-trafficking committees, including by increasing funding to the regional bodies; convene the national, regional, and provincial anti-trafficking committees annually; and work with NGOs to develop a formal referral mechanism to provide victims with long-term care.
The government increased its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2008 anti-trafficking law prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes maximum penalties of 10 years’ imprisonment. Law No. 11-2014/AN criminalizes child prostitution and the sale of children—including the sale of children for crimes not considered trafficking in the 2000 UN TIP Protocol—and prescribes penalties of five to 10 years’ imprisonment or fines between 1,500,000 West African CFA francs (CFA) ($2,490) and 3,000,000 CFA ($4,980), or both. For sentences that include only a fine, penalties are neither sufficiently stringent nor commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In September 2015, the government adopted a law on the prevention and repression of violence against women and girls. Under the law, sexual slavery is punishable with two to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of one to two million CFA ($1,660-$3,320), which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate.
The government investigated 38 suspected traffickers in 2015, which led to the prosecution of 16 suspects and the conviction of nine traffickers—an increase from two prosecutions and no convictions in 2014 and closer to the 22 prosecutions and 18 convictions reported in 2013. During the reporting period, law enforcement intercepted seven unregistered Koranic teachers transporting 43 children to Mali and Cote d’Ivoire, allegedly for forced labor in cotton fields; officials returned the children to their families and arrested the seven teachers, but it is unclear if authorities investigated or continued to detain them. There were no prosecutions or convictions for forced begging by unscrupulous Koranic school teachers, despite the prevalence of this form of trafficking in the country. During the previous reporting period, the government arrested a Burkinabe woman for allegedly subjecting more than 30 women to trafficking in Lebanon, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia; she was imprisoned pending trial, but it was unclear if she remained in prison or if the case was ongoing at the end of the reporting period. Law enforcement identified 17 Ivoirian women and girls allegedly bound for domestic servitude in Saudi Arabia and arrested three suspected traffickers in connection with the case. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses; however, law enforcement efforts remained hindered by general corruption in the judiciary.
The government sustained efforts to identify trafficking victims and modestly increased its funding for short-term victim services for a large number of potential child trafficking victims, yet there were no shelters or services for adults, and long-term care for all victims remained inadequate. In 2015, the government continued to support 400 potential child trafficking victims, compared with 280 in 2014; it is unclear how many of these potential victims were identified during the reporting period and how many the government identified. The majority of these children were intercepted while being transported, sometimes in large numbers on trucks or buses, and were rescued prior to reaching destinations where they would have faced exploitation, typically in gold mines or in city centers as domestic servants or street beggars. Due to data collection constraints and lack of disaggregated trafficking and smuggling statistics, it is unclear how many of these children were trafficking victims. The government, with funding and other support from local NGOs and international organizations, operated 23 multipurpose transit centers that provided limited food, medical care, and counseling to child trafficking victims and children vulnerable to trafficking before reuniting them with their families; it did not report how many victims were referred to protective services. The government allocated 21,200,000 CFA ($35,200) to these transit centers to support protection activities, including health care, schooling, vocational training, family returns, and social workers; the government had allocated the equivalent of approximately $11,000 the previous reporting period. The government acknowledged victim services remained inadequate; the lack of protection and resources for victims resulted in many being subjected to additional trafficking after identification. The 2015 law on the prevention and repression of violence against women and girls mandates measures for victim support, including the establishment of free emergency integrated support centers to offer comprehensive support services for women and girl victims of violence, including sexual slavery. There is no evidence the government made efforts to establish such centers during the reporting period.
The government trained 210 government employees, social workers, police, gendarmerie, and members of civil society on the links between mobility and trafficking. It also trained members of its anti-trafficking committees—including law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel—on the proactive identification of trafficking victims. The government had standard victim identification and referral procedures, but authorities and front-line responders did not employ them uniformly during the reporting period. The law provides that foreign citizens may apply for asylum if they fear they will face hardship or retribution in their country of origin. The government did not report assisting with the repatriation of victims abroad, but it helped such victims upon return develop personalized plans for reintegration into local communities. There were no reports of trafficking victims penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking.
The government moderately increased efforts to prevent trafficking. The Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity, which had the lead on anti-trafficking efforts, renewed the annual national anti-trafficking plan, but there was no evidence the government took action to implement the plan; the national anti-trafficking committee—responsible for the plan’s implementation and comprised of representatives from government ministries and NGOs—did not meet during the reporting period. Thirteen regional bodies composed of police, social workers, transit companies, NGOs, and other regional stakeholders coordinated administrative efforts to support anti-trafficking law enforcement activities and victim protection efforts, as well as collect anti-trafficking data. These bodies lacked sufficient resources, and it is unclear how many met during the reporting period. The government had child protection networks, composed of law enforcement, judicial officials, health workers, and NGO representatives in 23 of the country’s 45 provinces to improve coordination between stakeholders that provide care for child victims, including victims of trafficking. Some of the committees met during the reporting period and gathered trafficking data for the national anti-trafficking committee. The government began to develop a basic integrated data system to collect statistics on child protection, including child trafficking, and sent officials on field missions to brief law enforcement agents on the proper collection of anti-trafficking data. The government continued to conduct anti-trafficking advocacy campaigns and operated a toll-free number for people to report cases of violence against children and violations of children’s rights, including trafficking. Unlike in previous years, the government did not provide funding for the hotline; it is unclear if the number received any trafficking-related calls during the reporting period. The government also allocated 106,671,000 CFA ($177,000) to vocational training for and the social reintegration of young street children vulnerable to trafficking.
During the reporting period, the government created an intermediary body to help monitor new Koranic schools and teachers at the local level and identify unregistered schools and instructors who subject children to trafficking. This organization helped law enforcement intercept seven unregistered teachers and 43 children reportedly bound for exploitation in Mali and Cote d’Ivoire. The government did not make any discernible efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts. Burkinabe labor inspectors are not allowed to inspect private homes, rendering victims of domestic servitude invisible to authorities. While inspectors are authorized to inspect private farms, they rarely did. The government, in partnership with foreign donors, provided Burkinabe troops with anti-trafficking training prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. During the reporting period, 10 Burkinabe peacekeepers were accused of sexual exploitation while deployed on the UN mission in Mali; the government was investigating the allegations at the end of the reporting period. While the government did not provide formal anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel, it did give its diplomats an informal briefing on human trafficking.