Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Djibouti

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Djibouti, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee83c.html [accessed 20 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Djibouti (Tier 2)

Djibouti is a transit, source, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. There is little verifiable data on the human trafficking situation in Djibouti. Large numbers of voluntary economic migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia pass illegally through Djibouti en route to Yemen and other locations in the Middle East; among this group, a small number of women and girls may fall victim to domestic servitude or forced prostitution after reaching Djibouti City or the Ethiopia-Djibouti trucking corridor. An unknown number of migrants – men, women, and children – are subjected to conditions of forced labor and sex trafficking once they reach Yemen or other destinations in the Middle East. Djibouti's large refugee population – comprised of Somalis, Ethiopians, and Eritreans – as well as foreign street children remain vulnerable to various forms of exploitation within the country, including human trafficking. Older street children reportedly act, at times, as pimps for younger children. Children are also vulnerable to forced labor as domestic servants and to forced crime, such as theft. A small number of girls from impoverished Djiboutian families may be coerced into prostitution by family members or others. Members of foreign militaries stationed in Djibouti contribute to the demand for women and girls in prostitution, including trafficking victims.

The Government of Djibouti does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government made efforts to arrest traffickers and sustained partnerships with international organizations and foreign governments to address the confluence of human trafficking with smuggling in Djibouti. However, it did not improve implementation of the protection or prevention components of its anti-trafficking law, even within the government's limited capacity. Specifically, the government did not take steps to improve efforts to criminally prosecute traffickers or institute procedures for law enforcement or other government authorities to identify and refer trafficking victims to available services. Addressing migrant smuggling and daunting refugee flows remained a main concern, diverting government attention and limited law enforcement resources that might otherwise have been devoted to detecting and responding to forms of trafficking occurring within the country's borders.

Recommendations for Djibouti: Continue and expand a nationwide campaign to educate government officials and the general public on human trafficking, particularly highlighting the appropriate treatment of domestic workers under Djiboutian law; continue to work with judges, prosecutors, and police to clarify and apply the difference between cases of human trafficking and alien smuggling, particularly regarding courts' application of Law 210 to cases of alien smuggling; form partnerships with local religious leaders, building their capacity and encouraging them to educate their congregations about trafficking; enforce the anti-trafficking statute through investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders responsible for child prostitution, domestic servitude, or other forced labor offenses and provide data on convictions and sentences for trafficking offenders; institute a module on human trafficking as a standard part of the mandatory training program for new police and border guards; establish policies and procedures for government officials to proactively identify and interview potential trafficking victims and transfer them to the care, when appropriate, of local organizations; ensure police and relevant social welfare workers receive clear instructions regarding their specific roles and responsibilities in combating trafficking and protecting victims; and expand mechanisms for providing protective services to victims, possibly through the forging of partnerships with civil society or international organizations.

Prosecution

The government made modest efforts to enforce laws against human trafficking during the reporting period. Djibouti's Law 210, "Regarding the Fight Against Human Trafficking," enacted in December 2007, prohibits both forced labor and sex trafficking. The law also provides for the protection of victims regardless of ethnicity, gender, or nationality, and prescribes penalties of up to 30 years' imprisonment for convicted trafficking offenders. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Djiboutian law enforcement officers participated in human trafficking training programs sponsored by international organizations and foreign governments during the reporting period. During the reporting period, the government reported a total of 20 arrests related to trafficking under Law 210, down from 78 in 2009. The government did not, however, report any statistics on prosecutions, convictions, or sentences for forced prostitution or forced labor. Djiboutian authorities did not demonstrate concerted efforts to investigate or punish child trafficking, domestic servitude, or other forced labor offenses, nor did the government report any efforts to investigate or punish government officials complicit in trafficking offenses during the reporting period.

Protection

The government's efforts to protect victims of trafficking increased slightly, but remained weak overall during the reporting period. With few resources itself and a small pool of underfunded NGO partners, the government had little means with which to address the needs of trafficking victims during the year. In December 2010, government officials received training from IOM and foreign governments on direct assistance to victims of trafficking. During 2010, IOM reported identifying 20 Ethiopian victims of trafficking, including 10 victims of forced labor, who were assisted through IOM in returning to their home communities. Djiboutian police reported rescuing 163 children from prostitution and providing them with basic medical services. It is unclear what protection services the government provided to these victims after their medical care. Djiboutian authorities did not have a formal, comprehensive system to proactively identify victims of trafficking among high-risk populations, such as illegal immigrants and those arrested for prostitution. The government regularly deported undocumented foreigners and there was no evidence that authorities screened them for indicators of human trafficking. Children found in prostitution may have been arrested, but reportedly were not charged with crimes. After detaining children on suspicion of engaging in prostitution, police indicated that they attempted to locate and meet their parents or other family members to discuss appropriate child protection; children were then released to the care of family members. When family members could not be found, foreign children may have been deported to their country of origin; the government did not report data on such deportations. Police worked with the Ministry of Health's clinic and hospitals, and with NGOs, to provide some medical care to victims of child prostitution. The Government of Djibouti did not provide shelter or services directly to victims of trafficking, but collaborated with international and non-governmental institutions who offer such help. Although victims of trafficking were permitted to file civil suits against their traffickers, there did not appear to be any concerted encouragement from the government for victims to assist in criminal investigations of their traffickers. Foreign victims of trafficking are not offered legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution.

Prevention

The government sustained partnerships with international organizations to prevent trafficking in persons. Addressing concerns for migrants who depart Djiboutian shores for intended illegal entry to Yemen, the government continued its partnership with IOM to inform immigrants of the potential dangers of irregular migration. The government worked to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts by continuing to investigate some child prostitution cases and deploying a regular police vice squad. The government did not take any known measures to reduce the demand for forced labor.

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