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 and coastal regions, and from impoverished families in urban areas, are exploited in prostitution, domestic servitude, and forced labor in mining, fishing, and agriculture across the country. Most child sex trafficking occurs with the involvement of family members, but tourist operators, taxi drivers, and local adults in prostitution also facilitate this crime. Informal employment agencies recruit child domestic workers who are subsequently subjected to forced labor. Some children are fraudulently recruited for work in Antananarivo as waitresses and masseuses before being exploited in prostitution. Reports suggest child sexual exploitation is most prevalent in tourist destinations and surrounding formal and informal mining sites. Previous reports indicated prostitution of boys was becoming more prevalent. Malagasy men exploit child sex trafficking victims, while most child sex tourists are French and Italian nationals, and to a lesser extent, other Westerners and Comorians.
It is estimated that thousands of Malagasy women are employed as domestic workers in Lebanon, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia; these women circumvent a 2013 ban on work in Gulf countries by transiting Mauritius, Kenya, Comoros, and South Africa. Many of the women migrating are illiterate and vulnerable to fraud and abuse by recruitment agencies and employers. Reports suggest Malagasy men in the Middle East also endure forced labor in the service and construction sectors. Malagasy women are sent by persons acting as informal placement agents to China with falsified identity cards and exploited in forced labor and sold as brides. Malagasy men were subjected to forced labor aboard Chinese-flagged fishing vessels in South Africa’s territorial waters in the previous reporting period, and increasingly are subjected to domestic servitude in China. NGOs previously reported 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. Past reports indicated public officials purchase sexual services from children in Antananarivo and Nosy Be, primary child sex tourism destinations. Police encourage financial arrangements between victims and their offenders, rather than pursuing charges; this perpetuates impunity.
The Government of Madagascar does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. It formally established the National Office to Combat Trafficking, and its members met several times during the reporting period. The government did not take adequate measures to operationalize its five-year national action plan, which came into effect in 2015, or allocate sufficient funding to support the effective work of the national office. Although the government reported 10 convictions in 2015, a slight increase from six in 2014, authorities reported only eight trafficking-related investigations, a significant decrease from 187 cases investigated the previous year. It continued to lack formal procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and did not systematically provide services. Although the government began to draft a bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia in 2015, it did not make tangible progress with other destination country governments on protection and legal remedies for exploited Malagasy workers.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MADAGASCAR:
Increase efforts to prosecute and convict suspected trafficking offenders, including allegedly complicit officials, using the updated anti-trafficking legislation; adequately fund the National Office to Combat Trafficking; develop formal procedures for, and provide training to officials on, proactive measures to identify victims, investigate cases, and refer victims to appropriate services; implement the five-year national action plan to combat trafficking; monitor and regulate recruitment agencies sending migrant workers to the Middle East; operationalize the training center for prospective migrant workers and recruiters; collaborate with destination country governments to protect Malagasy migrant workers and jointly address cases of abuse; increase efforts to raise public awareness of labor trafficking, including of adults subjected to forced labor; and 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.
The government demonstrated uneven anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Anti-Trafficking Law No. 2007-038 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. Law No. 2014-040 broadened the scope of the 2007 anti-trafficking law to cover sexual exploitation, labor trafficking, forced labor, forced begging, and debt bondage. The updated law imposes sufficiently stringent penalties for trafficking offenses, ranging from two to five years’ imprisonment and a one to 10 million ariary ($315-3,130) fine, and stiffer penalties of five to 10 years’ imprisonment and fines ranging from two to 10 million ariary ($625-3,130) for trafficking crimes committed against children. During the reporting year, justice officials facilitated workshops in Nosy Be and Toliary to familiarize law enforcement personnel with the 2014 anti-trafficking law.
National statistics on prosecutions and convictions remained difficult to obtain and verify, due to a lack of coordination between law enforcement and the courts and inadequate record keeping. During the reporting period, the national police’s Morals and Minors Brigade investigated two potential trafficking cases and six trafficking-related cases, a stark decrease from the 187 cases of child sexual exploitation it investigated the year prior. Media reported the arrest of 14 alleged traffickers for the illicit recruitment of migrant workers; all 14 were referred for prosecution, a slight increase from the 11 prosecutions for illicit recruitment the year prior. Officials reported 10 trafficking convictions under the updated anti-trafficking law in 2015, compared with six in 2014. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses; however, there were widespread corruption and allegations of complicity.
The government sustained minimal 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 psycho-social services for victims. However, the networks’ protective services were at times inadequate, the standard of care was inconsistent across regions, and it was not clear whether any of the networks provided services to trafficking victims during the reporting year. The government continued to operate and fund the Manjary Soa Center in Antananarivo, which housed 35 children who had been removed from situations of forced labor and sex trafficking. This center provided vocational training or reintegration into the public school system. There were no reports the government arrested or punished trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. The government remained without formal procedures to encourage victims to assist law enforcement in the prosecution of their traffickers; however, the police reported victims were generally willing participants in the investigations of their alleged traffickers. Under the 2014 anti-trafficking law, victims are entitled to compensation for reintegration and medical care; however, this provision was not implemented for the second consecutive year.
In 2015, officials assisted, through diplomatic facilitation, with the repatriation of 60 Malagasy citizens who were subjected to trafficking in China, Comoros, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand. The government did not engage with foreign governments regarding the protection of and legal remedies for exploited Malagasy workers; however, it did complete an initial draft of a bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia during the reporting year. During the reporting period, many trafficking victims continued to return from the Middle East, where they had been subjected to various forms of abuse while working in domestic service. Upon repatriation, the vast majority of Malagasy trafficking victims arrived destitute and in need of psychological and medical services; however, the government did not provide victims with financial support or assistance but referred them to NGOs and international organizations for immediate care.
The government demonstrated modest efforts to prevent trafficking. During the reporting year, the government formally established the National Office to Combat Trafficking, as called for in its five-year national action plan, which came into effect in early 2015. Although members of the new national office convened seven meetings during the reporting year to draft staff duties and develop internal organizational structure, the government did not take additional steps to operationalize the national action plan and reduced funding for its implementation to eight million ariary ($2,500); during the previous reporting year, the government allotted 38.95 million ariary ($12,000). A 2013 ban on domestic worker travel to Gulf countries remained in place; however, illicit recruitment agencies circumvented the ban by sending workers through Comoros, Kenya, Mauritius, and South Africa. In October 2015, the government signed an agreement with an international organization to commence construction of a training center for prospective migrant workers and recruitment agencies; however, progress on this effort was unknown.
In November 2015, the government established a new tourist police branch in Ranohira Isalo to protect vulnerable populations against commercial sexual exploitation of children. However, officials did not disseminate the code of conduct to combat the commercial exploitation of children in the Nosy Be and Toliara tourism industry for the second consecutive year, although they did disseminate it in four additional regions with support from international organizations. Although authorities continued to operate the national hotline to document cases of child exploitation, no call statistics were available at the end of the reporting period. The prime minister launched an anti-trafficking awareness campaign, conducted and financially supported by an international organization, and justice ministers organized two national radio broadcasts to educate the public on the 2014 anti-trafficking law. During the reporting year, Malagasy officials, with donor funding, organized training on the identification and prevention of trafficking in the context of national disasters for an unknown number of humanitarian actors. The government did not make significant efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor during the reporting period. The government provided general guidance to diplomatic personnel on preventing trafficking based on respective local laws.