Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Benin
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||4 June 2008|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Benin, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a044d.html [accessed 31 May 2016]|
BENIN (Tier 2)
Benin is a source, transit and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. A 2006 UNICEF study found that 93 percent of victims were Beninese and 92 percent were trafficked within the country. Of those trafficked internally, 86 percent were underage girls. Within the country, girls are trafficked primarily for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation, while boys are subjected to plantation and construction labor, street hawking, and handicraft activities. There is anecdotal evidence that child sex tourism may be developing in northern Benin. Children are trafficked from Benin to other African countries for the aforementioned purposes as well as for forced labor in mines and stone quarries. The majority of victims trafficked transnationally from Benin are taken to Nigeria and Gabon, though some are also trafficked to Cameroon, Togo, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Congo, and Guinea-Bissau. A small number of children are trafficked to Benin from other African countries, primarily Togo, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
The Government of Benin 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. While Benin strengthened its overall law enforcement and victim protection efforts in the last year, sentences imposed on convicted traffickers were inadequate and the Government of Benin failed to implement procedures to identify trafficking victims among females in prostitution.
Recommendations for Benin: Increase penalties imposed on convicted traffickers; screen females in prostitution to identify trafficking victims; investigate whether child sex tourism occurs in northern Benin; and pass a law prohibiting the trafficking of adults.
The Government of Benin took increased steps to combat trafficking through law enforcement efforts during the last year. Benin does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, though its 2006 Act Relating to the Transportation of Minors and the Suppression of Child Trafficking criminalizes all forms of child trafficking and prescribes a penalty for this crime of up to 20 years' imprisonment – a penalty that is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for rape. In 2007 and early 2008, the government arrested 31 traffickers. Between April 2007 and March 2008, Benin reported 39 prosecutions and 18 convictions of trafficking offenders, an increase from 35 prosecutions and eight convictions obtained during the previous year. Penalties imposed on convicted trafficking offenders, however, were inadequate, ranging from three months on bail to one year's imprisonment. In April 2007, the government contributed trainers to a UNODC anti-trafficking "training-of-trainers" program for police officers and court employees.
The Beninese government intensified efforts to protect trafficking victims during the last year. The Minors Protection Brigade (MPB) reported rescuing 190 victims, 25 of whom were repatriated from Nigeria, a substantial increase from 88 victims rescued during the previous reporting period. In January and February 2008, Beninese and Nigerian authorities worked together, pursuant to the terms of their joint anti-trafficking plan of action, to repatriate 47 Beninese children trafficked to work in Nigeria's stone quarries. The MPB continued to systematically refer rescued victims to a network of NGO shelters. In addition, the government's victim shelter became operational in May 2007. The government provides food to victims at the shelter, which is attached to the MPB headquarters and staffed with NGO personnel. The shelter provides temporary care to victims before they are referred to NGOs.
The Ministry of the Family continued to work with NGOs to reunite victims with their families. The government will not return victims to their home communities until a reinsertion program such as schooling, vocational training, or an apprenticeship, has been arranged for each child. The government continued to use its Social Promotion Centers located in each of Benin's 77 municipalities to provide basic social services to children, including trafficking victims. The government interviews victims to gather evidence to prosecute traffickers, but, in order to protect child victims from additional trauma, it does not encourage them to participate in trials unless a judge orders so. Government officials do not follow procedures for identifying trafficking victims among females in prostitution. Benin provides legal alternatives to the removal of foreign child victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution by refraining from repatriating such victims unless they are able to live safely in the country of origin. Victims are not inappropriately incarcerated or fined for unlawful acts as a direct result of being trafficked.
The Government of Benin made solid efforts to raise awareness about trafficking during the reporting period. From August 12 to 17, 2007, Beninese officials worked with Nigerian authorities and UNICEF to educate law enforcement and local communities in six villages along the Benin-Nigeria border about trafficking. In addition, the joint committee to combat child trafficking met twice in 2007 to discuss anti-trafficking coordination. The government completed its UNICEF-sponsored National Policy and Strategy for Child Protection in October 2007 and approved in September 2007 an ILO-sponsored five year national action plan to combat trafficking.
In April 2007, the National Child Protection and Monitoring Working Group submitted draft decrees to the Ministry of Justice that will activate provisions in the 2006 law regulating the movement of children. The provisions require children entering Benin to possess identity documents and children exiting with guardians other than their parents to have parental authorization documents. Agents of the MPB monitor borders to identify traffickers and victims. Beninese troops deployed abroad as part of peacekeeping missions receive trafficking awareness training through a donor-funded program. The Government of Benin has not taken steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts within Benin.