Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 15:14 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sudan

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sudan, 27 June 2011, available at: [accessed 19 January 2018]
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 who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. 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, including law enforcement officials. Khartoum, Juba, Nyala, and Port Sudan have reportedly seen a significant 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. During the year, Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) forces in Lul Payam (Upper Nile State) reportedly forced men and women to perform heavy manual labor without remuneration, while subjecting them to physical abuse.

Sudanese women and girls are subjected to domestic servitude in Middle Eastern countries, such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and to forced 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 transit Yemen en route to Saudi Arabia, where they are used in forced begging and street vending, and reportedly work in exploitative labor situations for Sudanese traders in the Central African Republic. Sudanese gang members reportedly coerce other young Sudanese refugees into prostitution in nightclubs in Egypt. Sudanese refugees in Israel reported being brutalized by Rashaida smugglers operating in the Sinai, including being chained together, whipped and beaten regularly, deprived of food, and forced to do construction work at gunpoint at smugglers' personal homes.

Sudan is a transit and destination country for Ethiopian and Eritrean women subjected to domestic servitude in Sudan and Middle Eastern countries. Filipina migrant domestic workers may also be victimized by situations of forced labor in Khartoum. Sudan is a destination for Ethiopian, Somali, and possibly Thai women subjected to forced prostitution. Agents recruit young women from Ethiopia's Oromia region with promises of high-paying employment as domestic workers in Sudan, only to collect their salaries or force them into prostitution in brothels in Khartoum or near Sudan's oil fields and mining camps. Some Ugandan girls in Juba's prostitution trade may be controlled by a third party.

Thousands of Dinka women and children, and a lesser number of children from the Nuba tribe, were abducted and subsequently enslaved by members of the Missiriya and Rizeigat tribes during the concluded north-south civil war. Some of those enslaved remain with their captors. While there have been no known new abductions of Dinka by members of Baggara tribes in a number of years, inter-tribal abductions continue between tribes in southern Sudan, especially in Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria States. Hundreds of children were abducted in 2010 during cattle raids and conflicts between rival tribes, some of whom were subsequently subjected to conditions of domestic servitude or animal herding. As part of the Darfur conflict, government-supported militia, like the Janjaweed and the Popular Defense Forces (PDFs), and elements of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) abducted civilians between 2003 and 2007, mostly from the Fur, Massalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups. Abducted women and girls are subjected to sexual exploitation and forced domestic and agricultural labor, while men and boys are subjected to forced labor in agriculture, herding, portering goods, and domestic servitude; some of these individuals likely remained captive at the end of the reporting period.

Forcible recruitment of adults and particularly children, by virtually all armed groups, including government forces involved in Sudan's concluded north-south civil war was previously commonplace. Since the war formally ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, the Government of Southern Sudan's army, the SPLA, committed to releasing all children from its ranks, including through the signing of an action plan with the UN in November 2009. During the year, UN personnel continued to observe children wearing SPLA uniforms, carrying weapons, and serving at SPLA checkpoints or as bodyguards for senior commanders. For example, in October 2010, UN personnel near Abeyi town witnessed two children ages 10 to 12 years atop a truck wearing SPLA uniforms and carrying AK-47 rifles. In late 2010, there were confirmed reports of unlawful SPLA recruitment of five street children from the SPLA guesthouse in Kadugli town (South Kordofan State), after which they were sent for military training at the SPLA barracks in White Lake/ Jaw area. An unknown number of children remained with the SPLA at the end of 2010. Unlike the previous reporting period, the UN Mission to Sudan (UNMIS) reported demobilized child soldiers are no longer being re-recruited in Blue Nile State.

In Darfur, Sudanese children were conscripted, at times through abduction, and used by armed groups during the reporting period, including the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)/Minni Minawi, SLA/Abdul Wahid, SLA Historical Leadership, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), government-supported Janjaweed militia, and Chadian opposition forces. Elsewhere in northern Sudan, government security forces used child soldiers; at least two children were verified as being associated with the Border Intelligence Forces and seven with the PDF during the year.

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continued to abduct Sudanese children and harbor enslaved Sudanese, Congolese, Central African, and Ugandan children in southern Sudan's Western Equatoria and Western Bahr el-Ghazal States for use as cooks, porters, concubines, and combatants; some of these children are also taken back and forth across borders into Central African Republic or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Government of National Unity (GNU) 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 steps to identify, demobilize, and reintegrate child soldiers during the reporting period, combating human trafficking through law enforcement, protection, or prevention measures was not a priority. The GNU did not acknowledge that forced labor, forced prostitution, or child prostitution exists within the country, and did not publish data regarding its efforts to combat human trafficking during the year nor respond to requests to provide information for this report. Though the Government of Southern Sudan's ability to monitor human trafficking in its jurisdiction or to provide accurate or comprehensive information regarding its limited anti-trafficking efforts remained weak, it demonstrated some willingness to engage on and work with the international community to address such issues – particularly those related to child soldiering – during the reporting period.

Recommendations for Sudan: Acknowledge the existence of a multi-faceted human trafficking problem; 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, prosecute 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 trafficking awareness 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 governmental armed forces, as well as those 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, a limit on the number of hours worked each day, and a basic minimum wage; 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.


The government's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts were negligible during the reporting period; it did not investigate or prosecute any suspected trafficking cases. Both the GNU and Government of Southern Sudan lacked the ability to establish authority or a law enforcement presence in some regions. The GNU and the Government of Southern Sudan neither documented their anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, if any, nor provided specialized anti-trafficking training to police, military, prosecutorial, or judicial personnel during the year. The Criminal Act of 1991 does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, though its 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. Nevertheless, no trafficker has ever been prosecuted under these articles, and it was unclear whether the National Security and Intelligence Service – the entity responsible for investigating cases of human trafficking – did so during the reporting period.

The GNU's 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, however, for the rehabilitation and reintegration of children victimized by such crimes. The GNU has never used this statute to prosecute any person in its armed forces suspected of such crimes. 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 under 18 years of age, 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 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, indicate 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 Southern Sudan Penal Code Act of 2008 prohibits and prescribes punishments of up to seven years' imprisonment for abduction (Article 278) or transfer of control over a person (Article 279) for the purpose of unlawful compulsory labor; the prescribed punishment of up to two years' imprisonment for compulsory labor without such aggravating circumstances is not sufficiently stringent. Article 276 criminalizes buying or selling a minor for the purpose of prostitution and prescribes a punishment of up to 14 years' imprisonment – a penalty that is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Punishments prescribed in Article 254 for procuring a child (up to 10 years' imprisonment) or an adult (up to two years' imprisonment) for the purposes of prostitution are not commensurate with those for rape. The Southern Sudan Child Act of 2008 prohibits the recruitment and use of children for military or paramilitary activities, and prescribes punishments of up to 10 years' imprisonment for such crimes. The Government of Southern Sudan did not investigate or prosecute any trafficking offenses using these or other articles during the reporting period. The omnibus Labor Act, which was drafted by the Southern Sudan Ministry of Labor in 2009 and would provide further protections against forced and child labor, was not passed during the most recent legislative session. Throughout the reporting period, Government of Southern Sudan senior officials deployed newly-formed rapid response police and military units to respond to inter-tribal fighting and free abductees; these law enforcement efforts did not result in prosecutions or convictions of trafficking offenders.


The GNU made only minimal efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the past year, and these efforts focused primarily on the demobilization of child soldiers. The government did not publicly acknowledge that women and children are exploited in prostitution or domestic servitude in Sudan, nor did it take steps to identify and provide protective services to such victims. Sudan has few victim care facilities readily accessible to trafficking victims, and the government did not provide access to legal, medical, or psychological services. Police child and family protection units in Khartoum, Western Darfur, Northern Darfur, Southern Kordofan, Northern Kordofan, and Gedaref States offered legal aid and psychosocial support to some victims of abuse and sexual violence during the year; these units were not fully operational due to lack of staff and equipment, and it is unknown whether they provided services to trafficking victims. 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, though NGOs believed that such detentions occurred in 2010. According to their lawyers, the government sentenced to death eight individuals believed to be child soldiers in 2009 for participating in JEM's May 2008 attack on Omdurman; four reportedly remain in detention, though there is no independent access to the detention centers to verify their presence or ages at the time of the attack. In November 2010, the government sentenced to death three individuals believed to be child soldiers, while a fourth received a lesser sentence for their participation in a May 2010 JEM attack on a fuel convoy; their case was under appeal at the close of the reporting period.

In January 2011, the North Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Commission (NSDDRC), the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur, the UNICEF, and a local NGO screened 93 boys associated with the Sudan Liberation Movement Army and Good Will Movements in El Fasher, North Darfur, providing medical exams and education on the dangers of HIV/AIDS; 84 were registered and demobilized as part of the process. It is unknown whether children were demobilized from the SAF or associated militias during the year.

Implementation of the SPLA's November 2009 UN-sponsored one-year action plan to end its use of child soldiers is behind schedule; local observers estimate the required activities will not be completed until the end of 2012, partially due to the fact that some SPLA barracks where child soldiers have been documented are nearly inaccessible due to the poor road conditions or insecurity. In August 2010, the SPLA officially launched, with UNICEF funding, its year-old central Child Protection Unit (CPU) in Juba to oversee implementation of the plan, compliance with child protection standards at major SPLA bases, and removal of children from SPLA payrolls. It also began establishing CPUs at SPLA division headquarters in all 10 southern states. To date, CPUs have been established in Mapel, Wunyiik, Duar, Panpandiar, and Mongiri.

The SSDDRC did not provide consolidated information regarding its efforts in 2010; the following data, compiled from various UN sources, may not account for all relevant activities. In March 2010, the SSDDRC and the SPLA CPU, with UNICEF support, identified and registered 20 child soldiers in the SPLA second division training center in New Kush (Eastern Equatoria State) and 27 in the Pakur SPLA barracks (Unity State). In May 2010, in Unity State, a team composed of the SSDDRC, the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD), and several UN entities carried out a demobilization exercise for 43 children at Buoth SPLA Division Four Assembly Area in Mayoum County. The SSDDRC and MoSD joined efforts to reunify 37 of these children with their families in nine towns throughout Mayoum County. In July and October 2010, a similarly-comprised team identified, registered, and demobilized a total of 77 boys in two separate SPLA Divisions in Mapel and Wunyik (Greater Bahr el Ghazal); an interim care center in Malualkon, rehabilitated by the SSDDRC, UNICEF, and an international NGO in 2009, provided accommodation to an unknown number of these demobilized children. In Blue Nile State, 140 of 220 known children associated with the SPLA were demobilized in December 2010; efforts continue to secure release of the remaining child soldiers in Blue Nile State, as well as to assess the presence of children in an additional five SPLA divisions. In Lakes State, the MoSD, with UNICEF funding, supported the enrollment into schools of 11 demobilized children, followed by the enrollment of four children in Eastern Equatoria State.

The MoSD in Western Equatoria State, with UNICEF's support, provided care, repatriation, family tracing, and reunification at a reintegration center in Yambio to 58 children – 27 Congolese, two Central African, and 29 Sudanese – rescued from LRA captivity in 2010. In February 2011, SPLA soldiers worked with Murle elders in Pibor Country to secure the release of six children abducted and sold by Murle tribesmen approximately one year earlier. Local, county, and state officials forged partnerships with UNMIS, UNICEF, and an international NGO to return the children to Bor County and reunite them with their families.

The Committee for the Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC), established in 1999 to facilitate the safe return of abducted and enslaved individuals to their families, was not operational for the majority of the reporting period, as was the case during the two preceding reporting periods. Its most recent retrieval and transport missions took place in March 2008 with Government of Southern Sudan funding; since that time, the GNU has not provided CEAWC with funding for the transport and reunification of previously identified abductees with their families, and made no efforts to assist victims of abduction and enslavement in the country. The Southern Sudan Human Rights Commission reportedly gave the organization $39,546 in 2010 to identify enslaved people in Nyala; this amount was inadequate to fund returns to southern Sudan.


The government made limited efforts during the reporting period aimed at the prevention of trafficking. Neither the GNU nor the Government of Southern Sudan conducted any anti-trafficking information or education campaigns, or has a plan of action to address trafficking or an anti-trafficking committee to coordinate national efforts. In June 2010, however, IOM, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Ministry of Interior, and the Sudan Center for Migration, Development, and Population Studies organized an inter-governmental forum in Khartoum to discuss human trafficking in Sudan. Participants at this forum, which brought together senior government officials from both the GNU and the Government of Southern Sudan, agreed to establish an interagency task force to coordinate the government's efforts to combat trafficking; to date, this entity does not appear to have been formed. In November 2010, the South Sudan Human Rights Commission announced the start of a campaign against human trafficking and gender-based violence that, in early 2011, included workshops, radio broadcasts, and posters to educate and discourage the public from engaging in gender-based violence.

The Secretariat of Sudanese Working Abroad, the national government agency responsible for collecting fees and taxes from migrant workers before their departure and protecting their rights and interests while abroad, reportedly established an anti-trafficking section to work on the repatriation of abused workers from the Middle East. Neither this section's existence nor any of its efforts could be verified. The Ministries of Labor and Foreign Affairs and the National Council for Child Welfare have responsibility for addressing specific aspects of Sudan's human trafficking problem; it is unknown what efforts, if any, these entities made during the reporting period to address the labor exploitation of Sudanese nationals working abroad, or foreign nationals within Sudan. The Ministry of Social Welfare for Women and Children 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 human trafficking within Sudan; it is unknown whether this ministry did so in 2010.

It is unknown what efforts, if any, authorities in Southern Sudan – particularly the Ministries of Labor and Internal Affairs made during the reporting period to address the labor exploitation of Sudanese nationals working abroad or foreign nationals within Sudan.

During the year, high-ranking SAF officials met several times with UN entities to discuss the preparation of, and commitment to, an action plan to end the use of child soldiers, including in proxy groups; an initial draft of the action plan was submitted to the Ministry of Defense for review, but was not finalized by the close of the reporting period. In June 2010, a technical working committee – comprised of the SPLA CPU, SSDDRC, UNICEF, and UNMIS – was established to oversee the implementation of the UN-SPLA action plan to end the use of child soldiers. The committee finalized a joint plan to verify the presence of child soldiers across the SPLA barracks in Southern Sudan, with separate plans later created for Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan States; joint SPLA-UNICEF teams began inspections in early 2011 to implement these plans. It also undertook awareness campaigns against child recruitment and use in five divisions of the SPLA, reaching more than 5,000 troops. Key messages, developed by SSDDRC and UNICEF, were aired by UNMIS radio. In June 2010, the government signed the N'Djamena Declaration, a binding document that outlines commitments to, and reinforces international standards on, recruitment and use of child soldiers. 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.

Search Refworld