Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Democratic Republic of the Congo

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 14 June 2004
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Democratic Republic of the Congo, 14 June 2004, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
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.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (Tier 2 Watch List)

Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) is a source country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor, including soldiering. Uncontrolled armed groups continue to abduct and forcibly recruit Congolese men, women, and children to serve as laborers, porters, domestics, combatants, and sex slaves. The Congolese Armed Forces no longer actively conscript children, but still have child soldiers among their ranks despite express commitments to demobilize them. Credible estimates of the total number of child soldiers among all armed groups in the D.R.C. vary widely from 15,000 to 30,000. There are reports of armed groups in Ituri and Maniema forcing civilians, including children, to dig for minerals. There are confirmed reports of child prostitution involving female pimps.

Following several years of war, a unified transition government was formed in July 2003. Sporadic ethnic and political violence by uncontrolled armed groups continues in eastern Congo, and two-thirds of the national territory remains in former rebel hands.

The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so in those areas of the country under government control. Congo has been placed on Tier 2 Watch List pending a removal of child soldiers from government forces and issuance of official demobilization certificates. The government should enhance its anti-trafficking coordination, and, in close partnership with humanitarian agencies, work toward demobilizing the remaining child soldiers in its ranks and freeing child soldiers who are captive in armed militias in remote regions.


No law specifically prohibits trafficking in persons, although Congolese laws prohibiting slavery, rape, and child prostitution could be used to prosecute traffickers. Involvement in child prostitution is a crime, but these laws are rarely enforced. The reunified government has not investigated or prosecuted any cases against traffickers. The country's criminal justice system – police, courts, and prisons – is decimated following years of war. The justice system must be rebuilt and rule of law improved before trafficking cases can be adequately addressed.


The government has taken concrete steps to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate (DDR) child soldiers. In 2003, it established a DDR plan of action and an inter-ministerial coordinating committee, however this process has been seriously delayed by the failure of the Ministries of Defense and Interior to finalize procedures for the issuance of demobilization papers. Without this certification, child soldiers are at risk of re-enrollment, have difficulty obtaining assistance from humanitarian organizations, and usually cannot be reintegrated into their home communities. The DDR process is being implemented by international organizations and local NGOs, although the government actively coordinates, facilitates, and participates in the process. About 1,000 child soldiers were demobilized and reintegrated in 2003.


In 2003, the government cooperated in a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) assessment on violence against women and children, including trafficking victims, by providing information and assisting in the program design.

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