Last Updated: Friday, 28 November 2014, 12:57 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sudan

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sudan, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30c939.html [accessed 28 November 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.

SUDAN (Tier 3)

Sudan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Internal trafficking occurs in Sudanese territory both within and outside of the government's control. Sudanese women and girls, particularly those from rural areas or who are internally displaced, are vulnerable to forced labor as domestic workers in homes throughout the country; most are believed to be working without contracts or government-enforced labor protections. Some of these women and girls are subsequently sexually abused by male occupants of the household or forced to engage in commercial sex acts. Sudanese girls engage in prostitution within the country – including in restaurants and brothels – at times with the assistance of third parties. Khartoum, Nyala, and Port Sudan have reportedly seen a rise in child prostitution in recent years, as well as in numbers of street children and child laborers – two groups which are highly vulnerable to labor and sexual exploitation. There are reports of organized child street begging in Khartoum and other large cities.

Sudanese women and girls are subjected to domestic servitude in Middle Eastern countries – such as Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar – and to sex trafficking in European countries. Some Sudanese men who voluntarily migrate to the Middle East as low-skilled laborers face conditions indicative of forced labor. Sudanese children in Saudi Arabia are used by criminal gangs for forced begging and street vending. Sudanese and Eritrean nationals in Israel reported being brutalized by smugglers from the Rashaida tribe in the Sinai, including being chained together, whipped and beaten, deprived of food, raped, and forced to do domestic or manual labor at smugglers' homes; some of these individuals were not migrants, but were abducted from Khartoum, Sudan-based refugee camps, or border crossings.

Sudan is a transit and destination country for Ethiopian and Eritrean women, including illegal immigrants and refugees, subjected to domestic servitude in Sudan and Middle Eastern countries. Filipino migrant domestic workers and caregivers are also victimized by forced labor in Khartoum. Foreign domestic workers recruited by Khartoum-based employment agencies are reportedly exposed to exploitative practices, such as retention of salaries and physical abuse. In large cities, undocumented migrants and refugees often face discriminatory working conditions and endure exploitation because they feared approaching police or being deported. Ethiopian, Eritrean, Somali, and possibly Thai women are subjected to forced prostitution in Sudan. Agents recruit young women from Ethiopia's Oromia region with promises of high-paying employment as domestic workers, only to force them into prostitution in brothels in Khartoum.

Thousands of Dinka women and children, and a fewer number of children from the Nuba tribe, were abducted and subsequently enslaved by members of the Missiriya and Rizeigat tribes during the North-South civil war that spanned from 1983 until 2005. Some of those enslaved remain with their captors.

During the reporting period, Sudanese children in Darfur were forcibly conscripted, at times through abduction, and used by armed groups, such as the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)/Minni Minawi, SLA/Abdul Wahid, Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and government-supported Janjaweed militia. Government security forces also used child soldiers; children were verified as being associated with the government-aligned Popular Defense Forces (PDFs) during the year in both Darfur and the "Two Areas" (South Kordofan and Blue Nile). The SAF also reportedly armed, trained, and used two tribes (Falata and Hawsa), including children, as militia in Tadamon locality against the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N). The SPLM-N forcibly recruited and used child soldiers in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. There were also reports that elements in Sudan tied to anti-South Sudanese militias – such as the South Sudanese Defense Forces (SSDF) and the rebel groups of the late Lieutenant General George Athor, the late Colonel Gatluak Gai, and Captain Johnson Olonyi – kidnapped and forcibly recruited ethnic Southerners, including children, to fight in the "Three Areas" (including Abyei) on the side of the Government of Sudan or with the SSDF rebels.

The Government of Sudan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. While the government took some initial steps during the reporting period to acknowledge the existence of trafficking, draft anti-trafficking legislation, prosecute suspected traffickers, demobilize and reintegrate child soldiers, and waive overstay fines for foreign domestic workers, its efforts to combat human trafficking through law enforcement, protection, or prevention measures were undertaken in an ad hoc fashion, rather than as the result of strategic planning. The government convicted three traffickers, but did not officially identify trafficking victims or make public data regarding its efforts to combat human trafficking. Its proxy militias reportedly unlawfully recruited and used child soldiers during the reporting period, and it did not take action to conclude a proposed action plan with the UN to address the problem.

Recommendations for Sudan: Enact a comprehensive legal regime to define and address human trafficking crimes and harmonize various existing legal statutes; increase efforts to investigate suspected human trafficking cases, increase prosecution of trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; launch a public awareness campaign to educate government officials and the general public on the nature and dangers of human trafficking; institute regular training for Sudanese diplomats posted overseas, as well as officials who validate migrant workers' employment contracts or regulate employment agencies, to enable proactive identification and provision of services to trafficked migrant workers; establish an official process for law enforcement officials to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups and refer them for assistance; allow unimpeded access to military barracks for monitoring missions to identify and remove any child soldiers; demobilize all remaining child soldiers from the ranks of aligned militias; amend the Law of 1955 Regarding Domestic Servants to provide additional rights and protections for domestic workers, such as mandatory written employment contracts and a limit on the number of hours worked each day; develop, publicize, and enforce a clear, easily-navigable process for employers to officially register their domestic workers and employment contracts, as required by the Law of 1955 Regarding Domestic Servants, as well as regularize illegally-present foreign domestic workers; take steps to identify and provide protective services to all types of trafficking victims found within the country, particularly those exploited in domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation; and make a much stronger effort through a comprehensive policy approach that involves all vested parties to identify, retrieve, and reintegrate abductees who remain in situations of enslavement.

Prosecution

The government's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts nominally increased during the reporting period. Although it began the process of enacting legislation prohibiting human trafficking and initiated law enforcement action against several suspected trafficking offenders, it also arrested potential human trafficking victims as they protested alleged infringements of their labor rights. The government neither documented its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts nor provided specialized anti-trafficking training to police, military, prosecutorial, or judicial personnel. The Criminal Act of 1991 does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, though Articles 156 and 163 prohibit inducing or abducting someone to engage in prostitution (seduction) and forced labor, respectively. Prescribed penalties of up to five years' imprisonment for seduction are sufficiently stringent, but not commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Article 156 prescribes penalties of up to seven years' imprisonment for aggravated seduction of a child. Prescribed penalties for forced labor of up to one year's imprisonment or a fine are not sufficiently stringent. No trafficker has ever been prosecuted under these articles, and it was unclear whether the National Security and Intelligence Service or police forces from the Ministry of Interior – the entities responsible for investigating cases of human trafficking – did so during the reporting period. The Child Act of 2008, enacted in January 2010, prohibits but does not prescribe punishments for forced child labor, child prostitution, sex trafficking, and the recruitment of children under the age of 18 into armed forces or groups. It includes provisions for the rehabilitation and reintegration of children victimized by such crimes, though no government entity has yet been assigned responsibility for implementing these provisions. Some states, such as Southern Kordofan, subsequently enacted their own child acts based on the national law. The Sudan Armed Forces Act of 2007 prohibits members of the armed forces from recruiting children younger than 18, enslaving civilians, or coercing civilians into prostitution; the act prescribes penalties of up to five years' imprisonment for child recruitment and up to 10 years' imprisonment for enslavement or forced prostitution. The government has never used this statute to prosecute any person in its armed forces. The Law of 1955 Regarding Domestic Servants outlines a process for employing and registering domestic workers, and provides limited labor rights and protections for such workers. Local observers, however, indicated that attempting to officially register domestic workers, as required by the law, entailed a long and complicated process fraught with bureaucratic impediments, including high fees and officials' expectation of receiving bribes. As a result, it appears that few, if any, employers register their domestic workers and the law is not enforced.

The Secretariat for Sudanese Working Abroad reported drafting, in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice, a comprehensive anti-trafficking law during the year. In 2011, the Sudan Police Force (SPF) established a directorate of trafficking in persons to respond to trafficking crimes, but it has not yet become operational. The SPF also appointed a dedicated district attorney to the prosecution of crimes involving women and children. In August 2011, a Khartoum court convicted and sentenced two people to 10 years' imprisonment under Article 45 (child trafficking) of the Child Act and Article 85 (kidnapping) of the Criminal Act for abducting and selling a child for the equivalent of $5,500; the buyer received a five-year sentence. In January 2012, Sudanese intelligence officials arrested and charged 10 suspected traffickers – one Eritrean national and nine Sudanese, including a member of the Sudanese Armed Forces – in Kassala State; the accused awaited trial in the Kassala court at the close of the reporting period.

Protection

The government demonstrated modest efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the past year by waiving the overstay fine of some migrant domestic workers, facilitating and financing the return of thousands of stranded Sudanese migrant workers from Libya, and demobilizing 438 child soldiers, an increase over the previous reporting period. It did not, however, officially identify any victims of trafficking or maintain records regarding its efforts to provide protective services to such individuals. Sudan has few victim care facilities accessible to trafficking victims. The Ministry of Welfare and Social Insurance is responsible for providing legal protection, housing, shelter, and medical and psychosocial support to women and children vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation and other forms of trafficking within Sudan; it provided limited medical and psychosocial care to an unknown number of potential trafficking victims in several states in 2011. Police child and family protection units, which existed in only six states at the close of the previous reporting period, were established in all 17 states in 2011 and were staffed by social workers who offered legal aid and psychosocial support to victims of abuse and sexual violence; the capacity of these units and amount of services they provided varied from state to state. Police referred street children in abusive situations to orphanages on a case by case basis and remanded individuals who may have been trafficked to the care of community leaders. UNICEF reported, for example, that the enactment of the Child Act in 2010 spurred Khartoum's judiciary to seek alternate methods in 2011 in dealing with children trafficked to Sudan from Ethiopia and Eritrea, such as reintegrating them through local community leaders rather than deporting them to their countries of origin. In January 2012, police in Kassala State referred 27 potential victims of trafficking to a guesthouse operated by the commissioner of refugees, where basic medical care was provided. Although 24 victims were transferred to a refugee camp for processing as asylum seekers, police detained three victims at the guesthouse for use as witnesses in the prosecution of their alleged traffickers.

The SPAF's child protection unit is charged with monitoring child soldiering and conducting training about the laws protecting children. The unit does not have any enforcement mechanisms and refused requests to meet or provide information on its efforts for inclusion in this report; it is unknown whether it demobilized children from associated militias during the year. In contrast, in April 2011, the Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Commission (SDDRC), with assistance from international partners, demobilized 190 child soldiers from the SPLA in a ceremony in Karmuk locality, South Kordofan State; though the children were reintegrated, the SDDRC and UNICEF lost contact with them after fighting broke out in the state. In September, the SDDRC, in collaboration with the West Darfur DDR Commission, the African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), UNICEF, the Ministry of Social Affairs, and a local NGO, commenced the registration and release of children associated with JEM/Peace Wing, SLA/Mustapha Terab, and the LRM in El Geneina, Masteri, Beida, Krenek, and Silea. The exercise included community orientations, registration (socio-economic profiling and an eligibility check), medical screening, and an HIV/AIDS briefing. It concluded with a caseload of 294 children, 164 of whom were demobilized and reintegrated. The SDDRC, with the support of UNICEF and UNAMID, established a committee for child reintegration within its child protection working group to coordinate the reintegration of children into their communities and prevent re-recruitment. In July 2011, the committee – which also included the population council, the state council for child welfare, and NGOs – began oversight of six-month technical skills development course in carpentry and welding in South Darfur for 18 boys released from SLA/Peace Wing. The SDDRC and its partners also demobilized and reintegrated 84 children in North Darfur during year.

The Ministry of Labor's Secretariat of Sudanese Working Abroad, the body responsible for collecting fees and taxes from migrant workers before their departure and protecting their rights and interests while abroad, reportedly has an anti-trafficking section to repatriate abused workers from the Middle East; the government failed to facilitate meetings with this body for the purpose of providing information on its anti-trafficking efforts during the reporting period. The immigration authority, however, waived the overstay fines for 48 Filipina domestic workers, allowing them to return to the Philippines. It is unknown what efforts, if any, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or any of Sudan's diplomatic missions made during the reporting period to directly address the significant problem of labor exploitation of Sudanese nationals working abroad. In early 2011, however, a joint governmental mechanism – comprised of the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior and the Secretariat of Sudanese Working Abroad – began meeting to address the needs of thousands of Sudanese migrant workers stranded in Libya as the result of civil conflict. In April 2011, the secretary general of the Secretariat for Sudanese Working Abroad visited the Shosha camp on the border between Tunisia and Libya to assess the wellbeing of Sudanese migrant workers who had fled the instability. By May 2011, the government spent the equivalent of $11.77 million to evacuate at least 45,000 Sudanese migrant workers, some of whom may have been trafficking victims, to Khartoum; it is unclear to what extent the workers were screened for trafficking victimization.

The government did not employ a system for proactively identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations or a referral process to transfer victims to organizations providing care. It did not encourage victims' assistance in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes or provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they would face hardship or retribution. No reliable data exists regarding the detention or punishment of trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked. In August 2011, Sudanese police arrested approximately 40 Indian migrant workers as they protested in front of a power plant in Kosti demanding payment of their salaries; beyond the nonpayment of wages, the workers also alleged being forced to work after the expiry of their visas and to live in substandard conditions. Although the workers were released, paid their overdue wages, and returned to India shortly thereafter, it is unclear to what extent the government addressed the allegations of labor exploitation. The government made no efforts in 2011 to assist victims of abduction and enslavement that occurred during the 1983-2005 civil war or facilitate their safe return to their families.

Prevention

The government made limited efforts during the reporting period to prevent trafficking, and certain entities for the first time acknowledged the existence of trafficking in Sudan. In January 2012, the justice and legislation committee of the Sudanese Parliament publicly discussed with the press the existence of human trafficking in Sudan. In February 2012, the director general for passports and immigration of the Ministry of Interior, also while speaking with the press, acknowledged the existence of human trafficking, especially in Khartoum. The government, however, did not conduct any formal anti-trafficking education campaigns. In June 2011, the SDDRC and UNICEF conducted a sensitization workshop on children's rights and the prevention of recruitment and use of children for 66 leaders and members of three armed groups in West Darfur who had provided new lists of children to be released and registered; verification of these lists was ongoing at the close of the reporting period. The Ministry of Defense, however, did not approve the joint action plan with the UN to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers, including in proxy groups, that was drafted in 2010. The government did not take any known measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts. Sudan is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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