U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sierra Leone
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||12 June 2007|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sierra Leone, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be3d628.html [accessed 28 May 2015]|
Sierra Leone (Tier 2)
Sierra Leone is a source and transit country, and may be a destination country, for children and women trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Within the country, women and children are trafficked from rural provinces to towns and mining areas for domestic servitude, sexual exploitation as well as forced labor in diamond mines, petty trading, petty crime and begging. Women and children may also be trafficked for forced labor in agriculture and the fishing industry. Transnationally, Sierra Leonean women and children are trafficked to other West African countries, notably Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, and The Gambia, for the same purposes listed above and to North Africa, the Middle East, and Western Europe for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. Women and children may also be trafficked from Liberia and Guinea for forced labor in mines and sexual exploitation.
The Government of Sierra Leone does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so, despite limited resources. To strengthen its response to trafficking, Sierra Leone should: continue to increase law enforcement efforts against traffickers; improve its data collection on the number of traffickers and victims identified; train government officials about trafficking, including officials at Sierra Leonean embassies and consulates in destination countries; and implement its 2007 national action plan to combat trafficking.
The Government of Sierra Leone demonstrated increased law enforcement efforts over the reporting period. Sierra Leone prohibits all forms of trafficking through its 2005 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, which prescribes a maximum punishment of 10 years' imprisonment. This punishment is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties for rape. Between January 2006 and February 2007, the government reported 12 trafficking investigations and seven prosecutions. During the reporting period, Sierra Leone convicted its first trafficker under its 2005 law, imposing penalty of five years' imprisonment. The government has provided venues for NGO-sponsored law enforcement training on the 2005 law against trafficking. However, there is limited coordination between police and ministries responsible for combating trafficking. In 2006, the Sierra Leone Police Family Support Unit (FSU), which is responsible for combating trafficking, added fields for all forms of trafficking to its crime database, although data collected to date are not uniformly reliable.
The Government of Sierra Leone took limited steps to protect victims over the past year. Although the government does not operate shelters for trafficking victims, police identified and referred an unknown number of victims to the Ministry of Social Welfare (MOSW) for further referral to NGOs for care. The MOSW, in coordination with NGOs, has conducted training for social workers to provide trafficking victim assistance in FSU offices nationwide. The government has collaborated with UNICEF and NGOs to create a protection network for street children, many of whom are vulnerable to being trafficked or may be escaped trafficking victims. Sierra Leone does not train employees in its embassies and consulates in destination countries to provide care to victims or establish relationships with anti-trafficking NGOs in those countries. The government does not encourage victims, many of whom are children, to participate in trafficking investigations or prosecutions, focusing instead on returning child victims to home communities. The government does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution, although all trafficking victims rescued to date have been Sierra Leonean nationals. The government does not penalize victims for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
The Government of Sierra Leone made increased efforts to prevent trafficking. Chaired by the Ministry of Justice and the MOSW, the National Anti-Trafficking Task Force, established in 2004, met regularly during the year. In November 2006, this body completed a one-year 2007 National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking, which was formally approved by the Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Trafficking. This plan mandates the creation of a government-financed anti-trafficking secretariat. In September 2006, the government contributed personnel, a venue and utilities for the launch of the project "Raising Awareness of Trafficking in Persons to Reduce its Prevalence." Sierra Leone has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.