Last Updated: Friday, 28 August 2015, 14:50 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sierra Leone

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sierra Leone, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 28 August 2015]
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.

Sierra Leone (Tier 2)

Sierra Leone is a source country for trafficked persons. Tens of thousands of men, women, and children were trafficked internally in Sierra Leone throughout the civil war, which ended in January 2002. During the course of a 10-year conflict, rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) abducted individuals and forced them to work as laborers, mainly in the country's diamond fields. Women and girls were used as sex slaves and for domestic labor. Despite the end of the conflict and the release of some victims, the number of girls released was an extremely small percentage of the estimated number of girls used as sex slaves during the conflict. Moreover, it is likely that small groups of captured individuals are still being held for forced labor or sexual servitude. Children are reportedly being trafficked to Liberia as forced conscripts, and some children are being trafficked to Europe in false adoption schemes. Child prostitution is on the rise as well.

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 severe resource constraints. Sierra Leone can make additional progress through undertaking a comprehensive public awareness campaign, stepping up law enforcement efforts, and committing additional resources for victim protection and repatriation of victims.


The government conducts a survey of trafficking victims, works with international and non-governmental organizations on trafficking, and now includes trafficking issues in its ongoing reconstruction. The government's primary focus is on demobilization of child soldiers and reunification of families separated during the war. Government officials and non-governmental organizations provided briefings and counseling to local communities which accepted returned children. The government supports Voice of the Children, a radio program run by children for children. Sierra Leone is participating in a regional plan of action to combat trafficking in persons.


Although there is no specific anti-trafficking law, there are laws against procuring a female by threats or coercion for the purpose of prostitution. The government assists a special UN court in the trials of the former Interior Minister and other rebel commanders on charges of kidnapping and recruitment of child soldiers in March 2002. The police are actively compiling a database of trafficking cases. Police raided brothels in February 2003, breaking up a Nigerian trafficking ring. The ringleader escaped from custody. Police officials receive training in trauma healing and sexual and gender-based violence from non-governmental and international organizations. Police work closely with child protection advisors attached to the peacekeeping mission.


The government and international organizations have demobilized an estimated 5,200 former child combatants and reunited 2,363 non-combatant separated children, a significant number of whom were trafficked. The police are also actively involved in locating and securing the release of others still held captive, directing minors to UN programs, including the Child Protection Unit of the peacekeeping force, and others to NGOs for assistance.

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