Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July 2014, 08:12 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Cote d'Ivoire

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Cote d'Ivoire, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee87c.html [accessed 24 July 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.

Cote d'Ivoire (Special Case)

In the months prior to the October 31, 2010 presidential election, the Government of Cote d'Ivoire made fair anti-trafficking progress. However, prospects for additional progress were extinguished by the political stalemate and civil war following the November runoff as incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to the internationally-recognized winner, Alassane Ouattara. During the four-month period that, critically, came at the end of the reporting period – months slated for implementation of the newly-passed child trafficking law – there was no national governing structure that could assume responsibility for addressing the country's human trafficking problem. Police were militarized, courts were non-functional, and prisoners were freed from jail. Basic public services were not available, including social services necessary to address the needs of victims. Government ministries were minimally staffed and effectively shut down due to a lack of funding for salaries. The country descended into a period of sustained violence that damaged the national infrastructure necessary to address the trafficking problem. During this period, Ouattara's legitimate, elected regime lacked control over government ministries and functions and the ability to engage in serious and sustained efforts to combat trafficking.

The following summary covers the anti-trafficking efforts of the Gbagbo government until the October 31, 2010 presidential election. The government failed to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders or take steps to identify trafficking victims among women and girls in prostitution. Although it referred some child victims to NGOs for care, the government did not provide services to adult victims, and it abandoned a plan to build two shelters for trafficking victims. Though the government acknowledged that certain forms of trafficking are a problem in the country, such as forced child labor, it did not recognize other forms, such as the forced prostitution of adults, and has never reported a prosecution of forced labor in the cocoa sector.

The following recommendations are provided to guide newly-installed government officials in undertaking future anti-trafficking initiatives in Cote d'Ivoire. The new government's policies and perspectives on Cote d'Ivoire's human trafficking problem are presently unknown.

Scope and Magnitude: Cote d'Ivoire is primarily a country of destination for children and women subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. It is also a country of transit and origin for trafficking victims. Trafficking within the country's borders is most prevalent, with victims primarily recruited and transported from the north of the country to the more economically prosperous south. Boys from Ghana, Mali, and Burkina Faso are subjected to forced labor in Cote d'Ivoire's agricultural sector, including on cocoa, coffee, pineapple, and rubber plantations. Boys from Ghana are forced to work in the mining sector, boys from Togo in construction, and boys from Benin in carpentry and construction. Girls recruited from Ghana, Togo, and Benin to work as domestic servants and street vendors often are subjected to conditions of forced labor. Women and girls are also lured to Cote d'Ivoire from Ghana and Nigeria with promises of jobs such as waitressing in restaurants and bars, selling clothing, or skills training, and are subsequently subjected to forced prostitution. During the year, an international organization reported receiving an Ivorian trafficking victim who had been forced into domestic servitude in Tunisia. There were reports that children may have been recruited, at times by force, into armed groups loyal to both Gbagbo and Ouattara.

Recommendations for Cote d'Ivoire: Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders, particularly those who exploit children in the commercial sex trade or in forced labor, including in the agricultural sector; train judges and magistrates on the provisions of the new child trafficking law, as well as on existing legislation that criminalizes the trafficking of adults; form a basic government structure, such as a committee or task force with an allocated budget, to coordinate the government's anti-trafficking efforts across ministries; complete construction on two government-run shelters intended to care for trafficking victims; take steps to integrate screening, separation, and reintegration of any children that may be associated with security forces, militias, and armed groups into overall security sector reform; and train law enforcement officials to identify potential victims among vulnerable populations, such as women and girls in prostitution, and to refer them to protective services.

Government Efforts: While the Government of Cote d'Ivoire enacted legislation to address child trafficking, it did not prosecute or convict trafficking offenders using existing legislation during the reporting period. In September 2010, the government passed Law No. 2010-272 Pertaining to the Prohibition of Child Trafficking and the Worst Forms of Child Labor, its first specific law punishing trafficking offenses. Although most criminal acts covered under this law were already proscribed under various articles of the country's penal code, the new law increases penalties for compelling or offering children for prostitution to five to 20 years' imprisonment and a fine; these penalties are sufficiently stringent, but not commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. The law's penalty for submitting 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 approximately $800 to $2,200. 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. Pimping and exploitation of adults and children in prostitution by means of force, violence, or abuse is outlawed by Articles 335-336. The Criminal Police Unit reportedly arrested and investigated six persons suspected of human trafficking during the reporting period, four of whom remain in prison awaiting trial. Efforts to obtain additional information about these cases were unsuccessful.

The Ivoirian government made inadequate efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the year. Law enforcement authorities did not demonstrate adequate efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, such as foreign children entering the country without their parents or working in agriculture, though some victims were identified and referred to NGOs for care. One NGO shelter for trafficking victims cared for five victims, three of whom were Togolese, referred by the Police and the Ministry of Interior's Brigade de Mineurs during the year. The Ministry of Social Affairs referred 50 girls who had been exploited in domestic servitude to another NGO-run shelter. The government had no care facilities for foreign or domestic trafficking victims, and did not provide financial or material support to the NGOs it relied on to care for victims. Prior to the political crisis in October 2010, it had planned to build two shelters for trafficking victims, which were to be co-managed by the Ministries of Family and Labor. The Ministry of Family donated land to the project and the government allocated half of the approximately $210,000 necessary to complete the project, but construction did not begin and was later postponed indefinitely as a result of the political crisis. It is not known whether trafficking victims were detained or prosecuted for acts committed as a result of their being trafficked, nor whether the government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenses.

The government demonstrated negligible efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. It did not launch any campaigns to educate the public on the dangers of human trafficking. In the previous reporting period, a presidential decree established an independent coordinating body (service autonome) within the Ministry of Labor and Civil Service charged with addressing child labor. The office became operational in June 2010, but lacks a budget and does not appear to have taken any action since that time. While the service autonome was envisioned as the coordinating body for all government efforts against child trafficking, the National Committee for the Fight against Trafficking, chaired by a representative of the Ministry of Social Affairs, is currently responsible for issues of child trafficking. Discussions regarding coordinating the efforts of these two bodies were not completed. The government did not take any measures to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts during the year. The government took steps to establish the identity of local populations by reinstating its issuance of identification cards to 5.7 million citizens over the age of 18. Cote d'Ivoire is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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