U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Benin

Benin (Tier 2)

Benin is a source, transit, and destination country for children trafficked for the purposes of forced domestic and commercial labor, including child prostitution. Estimates on the numbers of trafficking victims range between a few hundred and several thousand each year. Beninese children are trafficked to Nigeria, Ghana, Gabon, Cote D'Ivoire, and Cameroon into forced labor situations, including agricultural labor, quarries, domestic service, and prostitution. The traditional practice of poor, rural Beninese families placing children with wealthier urban relatives has become corrupted, resulting in many situations of forced domestic labor. Beninese children are internally trafficked for forced work in construction, commercial enterprises, the handicraft industry, and roadside vending. Children from Niger, Togo, and Burkina Faso are trafficked to Benin for domestic labor and vending. Previously trafficked children often play a role in the recruitment of new victims.

The Government of Benin does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Benin's movement from Tier 1 to Tier 2 reflects its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking, such as passing comprehensive trafficking legislation and prosecuting traffickers. Endemic corruption and the lack of government will to arrest and sentence traffickers have allowed trafficking to continue relatively unchecked. Benin needs to make a much stronger effort to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases, adopt a national plan to address trafficking, and enact specific legislation dealing with the protection of child trafficking victims. The government should also improve controls along its international borders to combat high rates of cross-border trafficking crimes.


Benin's law enforcement efforts are inadequate. There is no law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons. Consequently, laws criminalizing prostitution, kidnapping, forced or bonded labor, and the employment of children under the age of 14 have been used to prosecute traffickers. Anti-trafficking legislation remains stalled in Benin's parliament for the second year with no clear indication of when it will be passed. Nine suspected traffickers were arrested but have not yet been charged following the repatriation of more than 200 child trafficking victims from Nigeria in September and October 2003. The government did not provide official statistics for the number of prosecutions in 2003. The government doubled the complement of the Brigade for the Protection of Minors from four to nine officers.


The government made modest progress toward improving protection services for trafficking victims in 2003. During the year, the government provided temporary housing for about 300 child trafficking victims until they could be transferred to facilities operated by various NGOs. Thorough medical screenings were provided, the children received vaccinations and food, and the government's "Brigade for the Protection of Minors" interviewed the victims. In March 2004, the government established a national child protection committee, comprised of child welfare organizations, government officials, and the police to oversee the fight against child trafficking and exploitation and the work of child protection organizations. The committee is expected to publish a directory of the country's child protection organizations and to evaluate their effectiveness in the fight against child trafficking.


The Government of Benin continued modest efforts to prevent incidents of trafficking. Anti-trafficking education campaigns targeting vulnerable children and their families are conducted by NGOs with the support and collaboration of the government. As the result of an August 2003 summit on cross-border criminality, the Government of Benin has undertaken concerted efforts in conjunction with the Government of Nigeria to fight all types of illegal cross-border trafficking, including child trafficking.


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