Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 07:59 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sierra Leone

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 - Sierra Leone, 14 June 2004, available at: [accessed 30 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.

Sierra Leone (Tier 3)

[*Please note: Sierra Leone was updated to Tier 2 Watch List per President George W. Bush, Presidential Determination No. 2004-46, September 10, 2004.]

Sierra Leone is a country of origin, destination, and transit for victims trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Victims are trafficked to Freetown internally and from neighboring countries for involuntary domestic servitude, street labor, and commercial sexual exploitation. Children are trafficked from rural areas to Freetown and to diamond mining areas for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Some victims are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to areas where international peacekeepers are concentrated. Victims are trafficked from Sierra Leone to West African countries for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Some victims are trafficked to Lebanon, Europe, and the United States for these purposes. Some former abductees, including former child soldiers, remain with their captors due to a lack of viable options.

The Government of Sierra Leone does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Sierra Leone was assigned a Tier 2 ranking in 2003; its efforts are now reassessed as Tier 3 due to the lack of progress on law enforcement, protection, and prevention efforts. The government acknowledges that trafficking is a problem but has failed to take significant steps to address the problem. Sierra Leone should enact and implement a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, conduct a national awareness campaign, and train government officials in identifying and assisting victims.


The Special Court, which is a hybrid UN-Sierra Leonean body, indicted 13 prominent persons for grievous violations of international law, including trafficking offenses involving child soldiers, sex slavery, and forced labor. Six of the indictees are currently being prosecuted for forced labor and sex slavery during the civil war. Two judges on the Special Court are Sierra Leonean and the national police made the arrests. There is no anti-trafficking law in Sierra Leone. The Family Support Unit of the police is assigned responsibility for trafficking in persons and has received anti-trafficking training, but its time is spent on domestic abuse cases. Government agencies have considered but not adopted an MOU to combat abuses in passport issuance to minors. Official corruption is endemic and impedes anti-trafficking efforts. Law enforcement efforts are also hampered by a lack of resources, personnel, and trafficking awareness. Penalties for child rape vary from two to 15 years' imprisonment according to the age of the victim and the circumstances of the crime.


The government cooperated extensively with international organizations and NGOs involved in the reintegration of child soldiers. The activities of the National Commission for War Affected Children are limited by resource constraints. There are no screening or referral mechanisms for victims. The government has not conducted awareness campaigns. The Ministry of Social Welfare repatriated a 17-year-old girl from Nigeria and provided reintegration assistance.


Sierra Leone has discussed but not established a committee to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts. The government has been focused on establishing security throughout the country and lacks resources to conduct prevention programs or to train officials to identify and assist victims. The Family Support Unit sponsored a seminar on sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation and officials have attended conferences addressing trafficking issues. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children's Affairs maintains a register of children separated from their families as a consequence of the war; many of these children are trafficking victims. The government lacks the capacity to effectively monitor its borders.

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