Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2018, 12:53 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Djibouti

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Djibouti, 19 June 2012, available at: [accessed 23 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.

DJIBOUTI (Tier 2 Watch List)

Djibouti is a transit, source, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Large numbers of voluntary and undocumented economic migrants from Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea – including men, women, and children – pass through Djibouti en route to Yemen and other locations in the Middle East; an unknown number of these migrants are subjected to conditions of forced labor and sex trafficking upon arrival in these destinations. Within Djibouti, this large migrant population, which includes foreign street children, is vulnerable to various forms of exploitation, including human trafficking. A small number of women and girls may fall victim to domestic servitude or forced prostitution after reaching Djibouti City, the Ethiopia-Djibouti trucking corridor, or Obock – the preferred crossing point into Yemen. Djibouti's older street children reportedly act, at times, as pimps for younger children. A small number of girls from impoverished Djiboutian families may be coerced into prostitution by family members or other individuals. Members of foreign militaries stationed in Djibouti contribute to the demand for women and girls in prostitution, including trafficking victims. Street children, including Djiboutian children, are forced by their parents or other adult relatives to beg as an additional source of family income; children may also be recruited from foreign countries for begging in Djibouti. Children are also vulnerable to forced labor as domestic servants and coerced to commit crimes, such as theft, often by trafficking networks who force the children to use drugs. The Polish government identified one Djiboutian trafficking victim in 2011.

The Government of Djibouti does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite its conviction of 20 smugglers, and provision of basic healthcare to undocumented migrants – demonstrating the government's continued focus on the smuggling problem that plagues the country and its ability to respond to transnational crime – the government did not demonstrate evidence of increasing efforts to address human trafficking during the year; therefore, Djibouti is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. Specifically, the government did not take steps to prosecute traffickers or develop procedures for the identification of trafficking victims and their referral to available services. Police continued monitoring bars for child prostitution; however, no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of pimps or clients were reported and there is no evidence that children in prostitution were referred to care. The government did not improve implementation of the protection or prevention components of its anti-trafficking law, even within the confines of its limited resources and capacity.

Recommendations for Djibouti: In implementing Law 210, identifying victims, and combatting trafficking generally, ensure use of a broad definition of trafficking in persons, consistent with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol that does not rely on evidence of movement, but rather on exploitation of the victim; continue to work with judges, prosecutors, and police to clarify the difference between cases of human trafficking and alien smuggling; enforce the anti-trafficking statute through investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders, especially those responsible for child prostitution, domestic servitude, or other forced labor offenses and provide data on convictions and sentences of trafficking offenders; institute a module on human trafficking as a standard part of the mandatory training program for new police and border guards; establish policies and procedures for government officials – including health and social welfare officers – to identify proactively and interview potential trafficking victims and transfer them to care; expand mechanisms for providing protective services to victims, possibly through the forging of partnerships with NGOs or international organizations; form partnerships with local religious leaders, encouraging them to educate their congregations about trafficking; and launch a nationwide anti-trafficking awareness campaign.


The government made minimal efforts to enforce its laws against human trafficking during the reporting period. In the previous reporting period the government named a deputy prosecutor as a focal point for all human trafficking prosecutions; however, the government did not prosecute or convict any trafficking offenders in 2011. Djibouti's Law 210, "Regarding the Fight Against Human Trafficking," enacted in December 2007, prohibits both forced labor and sex trafficking. It also provides for the protection of victims regardless of ethnicity, gender, or nationality, and prescribes penalties of up to two to five years' imprisonment, penalties are sufficiently stringent. However, these penalties are not commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Djiboutian authorities failed to demonstrate efforts to investigate or punish domestic servitude, other forced labor, or sex trafficking offenses. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to officials during the year.


The government demonstrated decreased efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the reporting period and did not provide shelter or services directly to victims of trafficking. Unlike in 2010, the government did not report the rescue of any children from prostitution or their referral to care in 2011. With few resources itself and a small pool of underfunded NGO partners, the government had little means with which to address the needs of trafficking victims during the year. During 2011, IOM identified and repatriated 17 Ethiopian, Somali, and Eritrean trafficking victims in Djibouti, including four children and 12 adults. The Ministry of Health in Obock provided care to African migrants, including food and emergency outpatient care for dehydration, pregnancy, or injuries received while traveling. The Coast Guard provided water and bread to migrants aboard smuggling vessels intercepted at sea and referred them to hospital care if needed. Djiboutian authorities continued to lack a formal system to proactively identify victims of trafficking among high-risk populations, such as undocumented immigrants and those arrested for prostitution. The government regularly deported undocumented foreigners and did not screen for indicators of human trafficking. Additionally, the government detained street children, including potential trafficking victims, following sweeps to clear the streets in advance of holidays or national events. Although victims of trafficking were permitted to file civil suits against their traffickers, there did not appear to be encouragement from the government for victims to assist in criminal investigations of their traffickers. Foreign victims of trafficking are not offered legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution.


The government made modest efforts to prevent trafficking during the year. It remains unclear whether the government's working group on trafficking, led by the Ministry of Justice, met during 2011 or finalized the national anti-trafficking action plan. The government continued its partnership with IOM to inform migrants of the potential dangers of irregular migration through billboard, radio, and television campaigns. The Ministry of Justice, in partnership with IOM, created and distributed a French-language pamphlet to raise awareness of trafficking in persons among the Djiboutian population. In January 2012, the Governments of Djibouti and Ethiopia signed an "Agreement to Combat Illegal Immigration and Human Trafficking" and a Memorandum of Understanding on labor exchange that establish legal recognition of and access to labor protection for undocumented Ethiopians residing in Djibouti. In fall 2011, the government created the Djiboutian Coast Guard, which interdicted 20 overloaded boats of Ethiopians and Somalis making the water crossing to Yemen during the year. The government did not take any known measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor; the Ministry of Labor did not conduct any child labor inspections in 2011.

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