U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sierra Leone
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||3 June 2005|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sierra Leone, 3 June 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d863c.html [accessed 23 July 2014]|
Sierra Leone (Tier 2 Watch List)
Sierra Leone is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. There are no reliable estimates of the scope and magnitude of trafficking in the country; however, anecdotal evidence indicates that women and children are trafficked internally to Freetown and from neighboring countries for involuntary domestic servitude, street labor, and commercial sexual exploitation. Children are trafficked from rural areas to Freetown with false promises that they will be sent to school, but instead are forced to work on the streets. There have also been reports of trafficking for debt bondage and sexual exploitation in the diamond mines in the interior of the country. Sierra Leonean victims are also trafficked to West Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.
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. The government is severely challenged by the lack of resources in the country to address trafficking and is still grappling with many competing needs since coming out of an 11-year civil war in 2002. However, despite lack of resources, the government has made meaningful efforts during the reporting period to address trafficking in the country. Sierra Leone is placed on Tier 2 Watch List based on the government's commitments to undertake future steps over the coming year. To further enhance its anti-trafficking efforts, the government should increase efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of trafficking, pass the anti-trafficking legislation currently pending in the Parliament, take strong action against corruption in the country, and continue prevention efforts currently underway.
During the year, the government's efforts to investigate, arrest, prosecute, and convict traffickers increased. The Sierra Leone Police (SLP) now host biweekly meetings of a newly created anti-trafficking task force and are working to better coordinate anti-trafficking measures throughout the country. Additionally, in 2004 the government convened a legislative working group and has drafted comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation. Legislative reforms and passage of the anti-trafficking law will increase the government's ability to arrest and convict traffickers, but law enforcement efforts will likely remain hampered by a lack of resources, personnel, and equipment. Despite the absence of an anti-trafficking law, the government opened trafficking-related investigations using other criminal ordinances and is currently working to convict one individual suspected of trafficking at least 47 children. The Office of National Security started compiling statistics of suspected human trafficking cases identified at the international airport; it identified 18 such cases in 2004. Sierra Leone lacks the capacity to sufficiently monitor its borders and official corruption is endemic and continues to impede anti-trafficking efforts.
The government remained unable to provide adequate protection and assistance to victims of trafficking during the reporting period. Efforts to protect victims were ad hoc amidst an absence of a formal policy for protecting trafficking victims. Limited care is available through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children's Affairs. However, there are no shelters in the country that specifically assist trafficking victims. Nonetheless, the government has good cooperation and coordination with international organizations and NGOs and has worked considerably in the reintegration of child soldiers. Recently, 50 SLP officers received anti-trafficking training from an NGO, which included instruction on actions to be taken when encountering victims. Other law enforcement officials have benefited from training for trauma healing and sexual and gender-based violence conducted by NGOs and international organizations.
The government is aware of the need to prevent trafficking and has made modest efforts to devise a national strategy, but much work still needs to be done, particularly in training government officials. The Sierra Leone Police (SLP) now hosts a joint anti-trafficking action committee consisting of government and nongovernmental members. The committee has developed an anti-trafficking national plan, which will include a public awareness campaign. The government also, in cooperation with NGOs, sponsored an art exhibit, created by trafficking victims in a library and exhibition space in Freetown, which highlighted the issue. The SLP routinely uses the radio to speak out about the dangers of trafficking. Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children's Affairs officials periodically travel throughout the country to educate women on trafficking. The government created a National Education Plan that will expand access to primary education, especially for girls and the rural poor.