Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2017, 11:43 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Cote d'Ivoire

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Cote d'Ivoire, 19 June 2012, available at: [accessed 20 October 2017]
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.


Cote d'Ivoire is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Trafficking within the country is more prevalent than transnational trafficking, and the majority of victims are children. Within Cote d'Ivoire, women and girls are subjected primarily to forced labor in domestic service and restaurants and to forced prostitution. Ivoirian boys are subjected to forced labor within the country in the agriculture and service sectors. Boys from Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, and Ghana are also found in Cote d'Ivoire in forced agricultural labor, including on cocoa, coffee, pineapple, and rubber plantations, in the mining sector, and in carpentry and construction. Girls recruited from Ghana, Togo, and Benin to work as domestic servants and street vendors often are subjected to forced labor. Some women and girls who are recruited from Ghana and Nigeria to work as waitresses in restaurants and bars are subsequently subjected to forced prostitution.

The Government of Cote d'Ivoire does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the new government remained hampered by limited resources and the lack of a functioning law enforcement and judicial system, as well as by insufficient knowledge of law enforcement officials and judges about the phenomenon of human trafficking. Despite these circumstances, the government was able to take several tangible steps towards addressing human trafficking during the year: convicting a suspected trafficker; identifying and rescuing three victims; establishing the Joint Ministerial Committee on the Fight against Trafficking, Exploitation, and Labor; creating a national plan of action on human trafficking; and putting in place the National Monitoring Committee on Actions to Fight Trafficking, Exploitation, and Child Labor, overseen by the first lady. The government also allocated the equivalent of $206,000 to build two shelters for victims of child trafficking.

Recommendations for Cote d'Ivoire: Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, particularly those who exploit children in the commercial sex trade or in forced labor; intensify efforts to identify, prosecute and punish forced child labor offenses in cocoa plantations; develop and enact legislation to criminalize all forms of adult trafficking and use this and existing legislation to prosecute traffickers, particularly those who exploit women in commercial sexual exploitation and men in forced labor; train law enforcement officials to follow established procedures to identify potential trafficking victims and refer them to protective services; and improve efforts to collect law enforcement data on trafficking offenses, including cases involving the trafficking of adults that are prosecuted under separate statutes in the penal code, and make this data available to other government agencies and the general public.


The Government of Cote d'Ivoire demonstrated some progress in its law enforcement efforts against human trafficking during the reporting period. In September 2010, before the civil war, the government passed Law No. 2010-272 Pertaining to the Prohibition of Child Trafficking and the Worst Forms of Child Labor, its first specific law punishing trafficking offenses. The law establishes penalties for compelling children into or offering them for prostitution from five to 20 years' imprisonment and a fine; these penalties are sufficiently stringent, but not commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. The law's penalty for submitting a child to forced labor or situations akin to bondage or slavery is 10 to 20 years' imprisonment and a fine, punishments which are sufficiently stringent. Penal code Article 378 prohibits the forced labor of adults and children, prescribing a sufficiently stringent penalty of one to five years' imprisonment and a fine of the equivalent of approximately $800 to $2,200. Article 376 criminalizes entering into contracts that deny freedom to a third person, prescribing a punishment of five to 10 years' imprisonment and a fine. Pimping and exploitation of adults and children in prostitution by means of force, violence, or abuse is outlawed by Articles 335-336. In December 2011, the Labor Advisory Board received a draft decree on involuntary domestic servitude, which it has yet to issue. The decree would punish trafficking offenders and those involved in the illegal use of child domestic workers.

Despite a seriously weakened law enforcement system due to the civil war, in early 2012 the government convicted one trafficking offender for subjecting a Burkinabe girl to commercial sexual exploitation in Cote d'Ivoire. The trafficking offender was tried under the Ivorian penal code and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. The trafficking offender was not tried under Law No. 2010-272 Pertaining to the Prohibition of Child Trafficking and the Worst Forms of Child Labor because it has not yet been sufficiently popularized among magistrates. The new national action plan released in early 2012 seeks to redress this lack of awareness. The police department continued to search for the traffickers of two other female victims, a Beninese girl of 12 years and an Ivoirian girl of 13 years. Both victims provided information on their traffickers relating to the investigation. The seven-person Anti-Trafficking Unit within the National Police did not receive anti-trafficking training during the reporting period; however, the government did provide it with new offices and the equivalent of $1,356 towards investigations. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or punishment of government employees for their complicity in trafficking-related activities.


The Ivoirian government made limited efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the last year. Law enforcement authorities remained inadequately staffed and trained and did not employ systematic procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, though three victims were identified in 2011. One victim was identified by the Directorate of Child Protection of the Ministry of Family, Women and Children after she had reached out to neighbors for help. The neighbors contacted the local police, who removed the child into a foster family, after which the Directorate of Child Protection brought her to a reception and rescue center in Abidjan. She has since been repatriated to Burkina Faso. The other two trafficking victims were identified and rescued by the Directorate of the Fight against Trafficking and Juvenile Delinquency of the Ministry of Interior. The government did not offer any specialized training to law enforcement and immigration personnel on identifying and interviewing victims of trafficking. In 2011, the president established the National Monitoring Committee to Fight Trafficking, Exploitation and Child Labor, which began drafting a national action plan on child labor and trafficking. Local NGOs ran two multi-purpose shelters that cared for an unknown number of foreign and Ivorian child trafficking victims. Both received referrals of victims from law enforcement. The government operated no care facilities for foreign or domestic trafficking victims; however, it resurrected efforts begun under the previous administration to build two shelters for child victims – including trafficking victims – by allocating the equivalent of $206,000 for construction of the shelters. The Minister of Family, Women, and Children established a pilot project inside her ministry dedicated to caring for victims of gender-based violence. During the reporting period, this project cared for 250 women, some of whom may have been trafficking victims, although the ministry did not screen the program's beneficiaries to identify trafficking victims. The government neither encouraged nor discouraged victims in participating in investigations or prosecutions of trafficking offenders, although all three trafficking victims rescued this year provided information against their traffickers. There were no reports that victims were detained, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; however, the government did not make adequate efforts to identify adult trafficking victims, which may have left some victims unidentified in the law enforcement system.


The Government of Cote d'Ivoire demonstrated sustained efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period, primarily by conducting public sensitization programs in eight villages across the country. The sensitization programs addressed such issues as defining child trafficking and learning to identify child trafficking victims. Through television and radio shows, as well as workshops and outreach events, the Ministry of Justice sought to educate the public about the September 2010 law against child trafficking and worst forms of child labor. The awareness campaign included paper posters, billboard posters, radio broadcasts, and presentations in public places. The Ministry of Labor provided the equivalent of approximately $20,000 for awareness posters. Funding for the overall campaign was not reported, as various ministries provided inputs independently. The program broadly targeted the community and vulnerable populations by conveying information such as the worst forms of child labor, the rights of a child, the consequences of hazardous work on a child's health, the role of local communities in the fight against trafficking and child labor, and the national care procedure for victims. The government made significant strides in establishing a framework for monitoring and combating trafficking in persons. In the fall, through a presidential decree, the government established the Joint Ministerial Committee on the Fight against Trafficking, Exploitation, and Child Labor, which is led by the Ministry of Labor and supported by the Ministry of Family, Women, and Children. The president also created the National Monitoring Committee on Actions to Fight Trafficking, Exploitation, and Child Labor, which is overseen by the first lady, to ensure interagency cooperation and ongoing government activity on trafficking matters. The committee met twice a month and drafted a national action plan against the worst forms of child labor and child trafficking in early 2012. As part of the Mali-Cote d'Ivoire bilateral accord, the Malian and Ivoirian first ladies met in October 2011 to intensify their joint efforts against trafficking. The Ivorian government budgeted the equivalent of $12,000,000 to fight worst the forms of child labor and child trafficking over the next three years. In January 2012, the Ministry of Labor signed a bylaw that updated the list of hazardous works prohibited for children. The government employed 25 child labor inspectors during the reporting period; however, no trafficking victims were identified as a result of their inspections. Government officials took part in a training course on human trafficking at the training center in Turin, Italy, which was financed jointly by the center and the government of Cote d'Ivoire.

Search Refworld