Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2018, 13:56 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burkina Faso

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burkina Faso, 19 June 2012, available at: [accessed 16 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.


Burkina Faso is a country of origin, transit, and destination for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Burkinabe children are subjected to forced labor as farm hands, gold panners and washers, street vendors, domestic servants, and beggars recruited as pupils by individuals posing as religious teachers. Girls are exploited in the commercial sex trade. Burkinabe children are transported to Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, or Niger for subsequent forced labor or sex trafficking. Burkina Faso is a transit country for traffickers transporting children from Mali to Cote d'Ivoire, and is a destination for children trafficked from other countries in the region, such as Ghana, Guinea, Mali, and Nigeria. To a lesser extent, traffickers recruit women for ostensibly legitimate employment in Europe and subsequently subject them to forced prostitution. Women from other West African countries are fraudulently recruited for employment in Burkina Faso and subsequently subjected to situations of forced prostitution, forced labor in restaurants, or domestic servitude in private homes.

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 sex trafficking and forced labor are a problem in the country, and continued efforts to identify child victims. In 2011, it identified 1,282 child trafficking victims. Despite this achievement, the government did not take steps to identify adult victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations. The government sustained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts which led to the arrest of 13 suspected traffickers and the conviction of three trafficking offenders. However, the government struggled to compile complete data on its law enforcement efforts.

Recommendations for Burkina Faso: Strengthen the system for collecting anti-trafficking law enforcement data and ensure that 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 officials 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.


The government sustained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year, though the number of cases investigated and prosecuted continued to be few compared with the significant number of victims identified in 2011. The government also struggled to compile complete data on such efforts. The May 2008 anti-trafficking law prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes maximum penalties of 10 years' imprisonment; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with prescribed penalties for other serious offenses, such as rape. The government reported investigating 10 suspected trafficking cases in 2011. Thirteen individual prosecutions were initiated and three persons were convicted, a decrease in investigations and convictions compared with the previous year. A Nigerian man and woman were convicted of trafficking 11 Nigerian girls for forced prostitution and received sentences of 24 and 36 months' imprisonment, respectively. The government did not provide information on the status of the 11 additional prosecutions initiated in 2011, or the investigations that remained pending at the close of the previous reporting period. The Ministry of Social Action disseminated anti-trafficking policies and procedures to law enforcement and border officials throughout the country, and in December 2011, government officials finished a year-long IOM-supported anti-trafficking program, during which Burkinabe officials presented best practices observed throughout West Africa to counterparts from Cote d'Ivoire and Niger. There were no reports of government officials' complicity in trafficking cases; however, law enforcement efforts remain hindered by limited human and financial resources and general corruption in the judiciary.


The Government of Burkina Faso sustained its efforts to identify and provide protective services to large numbers of child trafficking victims during the year, but did not identify or provide services to any trafficked adults. In 2011, the Ministry of Social Action (MSA) identified 1,112 child victims of Burkinabe origin – 662 boys and 450 girls. The government also reported another 170 child victims from other countries. The MSA worked with donors and the diplomatic representatives of neighboring countries to repatriate victims of non-Burkinabe origin. The Government of Burkina Faso collaborated on two cases with the Governments of Cote d'Ivoire and Mali to repatriate victims to Burkina Faso. During the year, the government continued to operate 23 multi-purpose transit centers, in collaboration with UNICEF, and referred an unknown number of victims to these centers to receive food, medical care, and clothing before being reunited with their families. To complement funding from UNICEF and other donors, the government allocated $20,000 to assist the police border patrol's anti-trafficking activities and to provide ongoing funding for the transit centers. 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, although no trafficking victims sought this protection during the year. The aforementioned Nigerian trafficking victims worked with Burkinabe law enforcement to provide information during the investigation, which enabled authorities to arrest and prosecute the traffickers. There were no reports that trafficking victims were penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.


The Government of Burkina Faso sustained moderate efforts to prevent trafficking in persons. The MSA printed and distributed 3,000 informational flyers in four local languages on the risks of human trafficking. The government hosted lectures, film discussions, and theater forums focused on child labor and trafficking, and also used nationwide radio and television stations to broadcast anti-trafficking programs. The Ministry of Territorial Administration, Decentralization, and Security conducted periodic raids of sites vulnerable to trafficking, such as brothels and farms. The country's national committee for the coordination of anti-trafficking activities, led by the Minister of Social Action, held its inaugural meeting in October 2011 during which it set out its goals for the coming year. Regional vigilance and surveillance committees, comprised of local officials and community leaders who defend children from various forms of exploitation, met during the year to coordinate activities to identify and assist potential victims, although it is unclear if they assisted any trafficking victims. The government undertook measures to decrease the demand for forced labor by increasing the number of labor inspectors it trained and employed to 170. The government did not take steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government provided Burkinabe troops with anti-trafficking and human rights training prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.

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