Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burkina Faso

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burkina Faso, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee8f4a.html [accessed 28 July 2014]
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.

Burkina Faso (Tier 2)

Burkina Faso is a country of origin, transit, and destination for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Burkinabe children are forced into labor as farm hands, gold panners and washers, street vendors, domestic servants, beggars recruited as pupils by unscrupulous religious teachers, and exploited in the sex trade. Burkinabe children are also transported to Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, or Niger for subsequent forced labor or sex trafficking. Burkina Faso is a transit area for traffickers transporting children from Mali to Cote d'Ivoire, and may be a destination for children trafficked from other countries in the region. To a lesser extent, traffickers recruit Burkinabe women for forced prostitution in Europe. Women from other West African countries are fraudulently recruited for employment in Burkina Faso, and subsequently subjected to situations of forced labor in restaurants, domestic servitude, and forced prostitution.

The Government of Burkina Faso does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government recognizes that child trafficking is a problem in the country, and it continued its efforts to proactively identify child victims. A police operation launched following an INTERPOL-supported training event was successful in rescuing 103 children from situations of forced labor, many at artisanal gold mining sites, and the Ministry of Social Action reported identifying an additional 557 child victims during the year. The government did not take steps to identify adult victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution. During the year, the government sustained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts which led to the arrest of 24 suspected traffickers and the conviction of six trafficking offenders. However, the government struggled to obtain complete data on its law enforcement efforts.

Recommendations for Burkina Faso: Strengthen the system for collecting anti-trafficking law enforcement data and ensure that the authorities responsible for data collection are supplied with adequate means for accessing and compiling this information; while distinguishing between human trafficking and the separate crimes of abduction and child selling, increase efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders, and apply appropriate penalties as prescribed by the May 2008 anti-trafficking law; train law enforcement to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution and children working in agriculture and mining, and refer them to protective services; include adults in the Ministry of Social Action's yearly victim identification targets; and while continuing to fund transit centers and vocational training programs, develop a formal referral mechanism for coordinating with NGOs to provide victims with long-term care.

Prosecution

The government sustained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year. Burkina Faso's May 2008 anti-trafficking law prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes maximum penalties of 10 years' imprisonment, and up to life imprisonment under certain aggravating circumstances; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with prescribed penalties for other serious offenses, such as rape. The government reported investigating 24 trafficking cases in 2010. Three of these cases did not have sufficient evidence to go to trial; two resulted in acquittals; six resulted in convictions; and the rest remain ongoing. The government provided incomplete data on sentences imposed on the six convicted offenders, though they ranged from six months' to one year's imprisonment. The Ministry of Justice reported that in 2009, high courts considered 32 criminal cases against child traffickers – information which had been previously unavailable due to the destruction of court records in a natural disaster – though it did not provide information on the outcomes of these cases. The Ministry of Social Action disseminated 1,000 copies of the country's 2008 anti-trafficking legislation to law enforcement and border officials throughout the country, and in October 2010, the government coordinated with INTERPOL to conduct three days of anti-trafficking training, which included sessions led by officials from the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Social Action, for nearly 100 law enforcement officers in the Cascades region, a transit area for the trafficking of children en route to Cote d'Ivoire. There were no reports of government officials' complicity in trafficking.

Protection

The Government of Burkina Faso sustained its overall efforts to proactively identify and provide protective services to child victims during the year, but did not identify or provide protective services to any adults. The Ministry of Social Action identified 660 child victims, 562 of whom were boys, in 2010, exceeding its target of identifying 500 child victims during the year. A police operation launched following an INTERPOL-sponsored anti-trafficking training in October 2010 led to the identification of 103 of these victims. Reports indicate that these children were not all of Burkinabe origin, but the government did not maintain comprehensive statistics as to the national origin of the victims identified. The Ministry of Social Action reported it worked with donors and the diplomatic representatives of neighboring countries in order to repatriate those of non-Burkinabe origin. During the year, the government continued to operate 23 transit centers with international organization partners, and referred an unknown number of victims to these centers to receive food, medical care, and clothing before being reunited with their families. Although the majority of the government's protection efforts provide only short-term care for victims, in 2010 the government worked with international donors to provide vocational training for 120 trafficking victims. Burkinabe authorities repatriated one 11-year-old girl who was suspected to have been a trafficking victim in Ghana, and collaborated with NGOs to repatriate 75 foreign victims identified in Burkina Faso. The government allows foreign citizens to apply for asylum if they fear they will face hardship or retribution if returned to their country of origin, though no trafficking victims sought this protection during the year. No victims are known to have assisted in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders; it is not known whether authorities encouraged them to do so. There were no reports that trafficking victims were penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Government personnel did not employ procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations such as women in prostitution.

Prevention

The Government of Burkina Faso sustained modest efforts to prevent trafficking in persons. The country's national committee for the coordination of anti-trafficking activities, led by the Ministry of Social Action's Directorate for Child Protection and Combating Violence Against Children, did not meet during the year. Thirteen regional vigilance and surveillance committees, composed of local officials and community leaders, met during the year to coordinate activities to identify and assist potential victims. The Ministry of Social Action plans to publish a report on the government's 2010 anti-trafficking efforts in June 2011. The government estimates that its public anti-trafficking awareness campaigns, including workshops, movie discussions, debates, live plays, and seminars, financially supported through partnerships with NGOs and international organizations, reached more than 20,000 people during the year. The government also used nationwide radio and television to broadcast anti-trafficking programs. The government took some steps to implement its anti-trafficking National Action Plan, adopted in 2007. The government also undertook measures to decrease the demand for forced labor by increasing the number of labor inspectors it trained and employed, though it did not take steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government provided Burkinabe troops anti-trafficking and human rights training prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.

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