U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Mali

Mali (Tier 2)

Mali is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced domestic, agricultural, and commercial labor. Children are trafficked to the rice fields of central Mali; boys are trafficked to mines in the southeast; and girls are trafficked for involuntary domestic servitude to large cities. Children are also trafficked between Mali and neighboring countries such as Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Guinea. Traffickers are generally Malian, but also include nationals of other West African states.

The Government of Mali does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Changes in Mali's law that would prohibit trafficking of all persons, not just minors (as is currently the case), would enhance anti-trafficking efforts, as would increased training and resources for law enforcement and judicial officials responsible for trafficking cases.


Law enforcement, hampered by the country's extensive borders and scarce government resources, showed limited success in combating trafficking in 2004; most anti-trafficking investigations started prior to 2004 remained open during the reporting period. Malian law provides punishments of five to 20 years in prison for trafficking in children and the Malian constitution prohibits all forced or bonded labor. The courts convicted no traffickers in 2004. A judge dropped a case initiated in early 2004 against four Nigerian women after determining that their suspected victims were adult prostitutes not protected by the child trafficking law – highlighting the weakness of Mali's existing criminal law. In July 2004, Malian authorities intercepted two traffickers moving 50 Burkinabe children; the traffickers escaped with 30 children and the government repatriated the remaining 20 child victims. Two suspected traffickers who attempted to move six children to Europe through Bamako airport in October 2004 await trial.


The government worked closely with neighboring countries, international organizations, and NGOs to coordinate the repatriation and reintegration of trafficking victims. In 2004, transit centers in four cities received over 150 rescued children awaiting return to their families. The Government of Mali signed new bilateral agreements with Burkina Faso and Senegal to increase cross-border coordination and facilitate repatriation of victims; Senegal repatriated 54 Malian children and Mali returned 20 children to Burkina Faso in 2004. The government lacked financial resources, but made a good faith effort to work with NGOs and donors to fund and implement victim assistance projects in conformance with the National Plan established in 2002.


The government made significant progress in increasing public awareness and community involvement in the fight against trafficking throughout the reporting period. It supported civic education programs that included awareness campaigns to inform local populations about trafficking. The Ministry of Women, Children, and the Family (MPFEF) established 120 of the 286 community surveillance committees created throughout the country in the past two years; most of these committees focus on combating child trafficking. The government presented an anti-trafficking message throughout the country at the beginning of the 2004 school year and trained tribal leaders, chiefs, and journalists on the Child Protection Code and the worst forms of child labor. The government launched a survey on sexual exploitation of minors in late 2004 and the MPFEF translated the Child Protection Code into six local languages.


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