Last Updated: Friday, 29 August 2014, 14:18 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Egypt

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Egypt, 14 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c1883f8c.html [accessed 30 August 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.

EGYPT (Tier 2)

Egypt is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children who are subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and forced prostitution. Some of Egypt's estimated two hundred thousand to one million street children – both boys and girls – are exploited in prostitution and forced begging. Local gangs are, at times, involved in this exploitation. Egyptian children are recruited for domestic and agricultural labor; some of these children face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude, such as restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. In addition, wealthy men from the Gulf reportedly travel to Egypt to purchase "temporary" or "summer marriages" with Egyptian females, including girls who are under the age of 18; these arrangements are often facilitated by the females' parents and marriage brokers and are a form of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Child sex tourism occurs in Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor. Egypt is a transit country for women trafficked from Uzbekistan, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, and other Eastern European countries to Israel for commercial sexual exploitation; organized crime groups are involved in these movements. During the reporting period, an international NGO released a report about alleged forced marriages of Coptic Christian females in Egypt, including an allegation of forced prostitution, though the allegations have not been confirmed.

Men and women from South and Southeast Asia may be subjected to forced labor in Egypt. There was a report during the year that the management of one factory in Egypt's Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) held workers' passports – a possible indication of forced labor. Ethiopians, Eritreans, Sudanese, Indonesians, Filipino, and possible Sri Lankan females migrate willingly to Egypt but may be subjected to forced domestic work. Some conditions they face include no time off; sexual, physical, and emotional abuse; withholding of wages; and restrictions of movement. Employers may use the domestic workers' illegal status and lack of employment contracts as a coercive tool. Some of the migrants and refugees who engage in prostitution may have been coerced to do so. Young female Sudanese refugees, including those under 18, may be coerced into prostitution in Cairo's nightclubs by family or Sudanese gang members. NGO and media reports indicate some Egyptians are forced to work in Jordan and experience the withholding of passports, forced overtime, non-payment of wages, and restrictions of movement.

The Government of Egypt does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government approved new legislation criminalizing trafficking in persons for labor and sexual exploitation. The new law represents an important step in eliminating severe forms of trafficking in persons, though its implementation is as yet untested. During the reporting period, the government made its first two convictions under the 2008 anti-trafficking amendments to the Child Law, and has raised awareness on "summer marriages," which are often used to facilitate commercial sexual exploitation. Nevertheless, the government did not show overall adequate efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict labor trafficking offenders, and did not make progress in protecting victims of trafficking over the reporting period. The government continued to lack formal victim identification procedures and protection services; therefore, unidentified victims of trafficking may be punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The government took minimal steps to combat the serious issue of involuntary domestic servitude.

Recommendations for Egypt: Substantially increase law enforcement activity against trafficking, including against involuntary domestic servitude and child sex trafficking; begin enforcement of the passed anti-trafficking law; institute and apply formal victim identification procedures to offer protective services to victims found among vulnerable populations, such as street children, women in prostitution, and undocumented migrants; ensure trafficking victims are not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; implement a comprehensive public information campaign to educate the public on the definition and dangers of trafficking; assess the potential for forced labor and related offenses among migrant workers in Egyptian factories, including those located in special export zones and those with QIZ program status; and improve coordination of government anti-trafficking efforts through effective use of an inter-ministerial committee on human trafficking.

Prosecution

The Government of Egypt made progress in law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Egypt's parliament passed legislation criminalizing all forms of human trafficking and prescribing penalties from three to 15 years' imprisonment – and up to life imprisonment if aggravating circumstances are present – with fines ranging from $9,000 to $36,000 for offenses. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. As of this report's writing, the government had not used the new law to prosecute, convict, or punish any individual for trafficking offenses. Amendments to the Child Law (No. 126 of 2008) include provisions prohibiting the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. These amendments prescribe sentences of at least five years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes.

In May 2009, an Alexandria court, using the 2008 amendment to Egypt's Child Law and other penal code provisions, convicted two men of forcing eight street children into prostitution with wealthy Egyptians and tourists from the Gulf. The court sentenced one trafficker to life in prison and the other to fifteen years' imprisonment. A court in October 2009 convicted two marriage registrars under the anti-trafficking provisions of the country's Child Law. Each was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. The two had illegally registered commercial short-term marriages of girls under the age of 18. In February 2010, the public prosecutor investigated and then began the prosecution of five suspects for facilitating the marriage of an under-age girl to an older man from Saudi Arabia. The five suspects were subsequently charged with various offenses, including violations of Egypt's Child Law. The defendants include the victims' parents, the Saudi "husband," a marriage "broker," and a lawyer who facilitated the marriage. Police arrested an additional 27 marriage registrars for registering the commercial marriage of underage girls. In 2009, the quasi-governmental National Council of Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) continued to train approximately 500 prosecutors, judges, police officers, Ministry of Tourism employees, labor inspectors, and social workers on human trafficking. In 2009, IOM and the Ministry of Interior collaborated to provide anti-trafficking training to police officials; in addition to providing the training facility, government officials led a few training modules.

Protection

Egypt made minimal progress in protecting victims of trafficking over the reporting period. Despite receiving training in victim identification, government officials did not employ formal procedures to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to providers of care; as a result, trafficking victims, including many street children and women arrested for prostitution, were often treated as criminals rather than victims. Some children may be sent to juvenile detention centers, which are in bad condition. Others may be subject to incarceration with adults, despite the Child Law which prohibits this practice. Border security personnel in the Sinai continued efforts to interdict undocumented migrants, occasionally killing some of them, while showing no evidence of efforts to identify possible trafficking victims among this vulnerable population. The Ministry of Social Solidarity continued to operate 19 drop-in centers for street children, women, and the disabled that may have provided care to trafficking victims in 2009; these centers, however, are only open during the day and do not provide comprehensive services for trafficking victims. The Ministry for Family and Population established a center where an NGO began rehabilitating victims of child trafficking in Cairo's Dar El Salaam area in August 2009. The NCCM, in partnership with an international NGO, continued to run a day center in Cairo to rehabilitate abused street boys involved in forced begging or petty crime; NCCM provided counseling, medical care, and literacy and computer classes, while the NGO operated the facility. The Ministry of Health (MOH) entered into an agreement with the IOM to establish a trafficking victims' care center in a Cairo public hospital, staffed with MOH employees trained in identifying and assisting trafficking victims. The center was due to open in March 2010; however the center did not open during the reporting period.

The NCCM continued to operate a 24-hour hotline to respond to complaints of child abuse, and between August 2009 and February 2010 it received 144 calls related to child marriages, some of which may have been related to commercial short-term marriages. Specialized care for adults or foreign victims was not provided. In prisons or detention centers, law enforcement officers may have further mistreated these victims through verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Foreign victims are not offered legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution. The government does not actively encourage victims to assist in investigations against their traffickers.

Prevention

The government made progress in preventing "summer marriages" in the reporting period, but did not otherwise undertake efforts to prevent human trafficking. The government was mandated by the newly passed law to create an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate anti-trafficking enforcement activities, victim protection, and programs. In 2010, the NCCM conducted a study on "summer marriages," which concluded that economic forces were responsible for driving the phenomena; the NCCM study called for an integrated public policy response. The NCCM established a hotline for reporting instances of the practice and for counseling victims; it is not clear how many reports the hotline has received since its launch in August 2009. In August 2009, the NCCM also launched a campaign against underage marriages to Arab tourists in villages in the 6th of October Governorate, where commercial short-term marriages of underage girls are rife. The government did not institute any other public campaigns to raise awareness on trafficking, including any on involuntary domestic servitude. The government made no efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or to raise awareness of sex tourism. The government has a well-developed birth registration and national identity card system. There were no reports of Egyptian government's efforts to provide anti-trafficking training for its troops before deploying them to international peacekeeping missions.

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