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

Benin (Tier 2 Watch List)

Benin is a source, transit, and destination country for children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Beninese children are trafficked to Nigeria, Ghana, Gabon, Cote D'Ivoire, and Cameroon for forced labor and prostitution. Beninese children are trafficked within the country for forced labor 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. The traditional practice of "vidomegon," whereby poor children are placed with wealthy families, has resulted in some labor and sexual exploitation. Children trafficked outside Benin are trafficked to cocoa plantations in Cote D'Ivoire, rock quarries in Nigeria, and involuntary domestic servitude in Gabon.

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 is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts in combating trafficking since last year. Anti-trafficking legislation, though now under debate in the National Assembly, has not yet been enacted and endemic corruption inhibits the government's ability to confront traffickers effectively. To increase its anti-trafficking efforts, the government should increase law enforcement efforts, finalize the much-needed national strategy to address trafficking, and enact specific anti-trafficking legislation.


Benin continued to lack an adequate law enforcement strategy to combat trafficking over the reporting period. At least one civil society organization reported interventions by low-ranking officials to attempt to secure release of traffickers, which may interfere with judicial proceedings and impede prosecutions. A local village chief who claims to be fighting trafficking reportedly was facilitating the trafficking of children. He was arrested and is currently facing charges for his activities. There is no law specifically prohibiting trafficking; however, there are scattered civil and criminal laws that may be used. Anti-trafficking legislation has been stalled in Benin's parliament for the past three years. Beninese law criminalizes prostitution, kidnapping, forced or bonded labor, and the employment of children under the age of 14; however no data on prosecutions under these laws was provided during the last year. Nonetheless, the Minors' Brigade reported 37 trafficking-related investigations. The government constructed a new building for the Minors' Brigade, which may house up to 160 victims of child trafficking and other abuses. The Minors' Brigade and the Judicial Police received training on how to detect and protect trafficking victims.


Due to the lack of resources in the country, the government's protections for trafficking victims continued to be inadequate in 2004. The government, in collaboration with NGOs and donors, worked to draft a national strategy to protect and aid child trafficking victims. However, the process is in its nascent stages. Generally, the government refers victims to NGOs for temporary housing, food, and medical care, but the process is ad hoc and inconsistent. The government cooperates with Nigeria, Togo, and Gabon to repatriate trafficked children. Benin repatriates approximately 20 children a month to Gabon.


The majority of anti-trafficking prevention efforts in Benin are undertaken by NGOs, due largely to the paucity of government resources. In 2004, the government initiated sensitization campaigns urging local populations to establish anti-trafficking committees. The government provided some members of the committees with equipment, such as flashlights and bicycles, to aid in the detection of trafficking victims and has provided training and some logistical support for the committees. The campaigns highlighted the dangers of child trafficking and educated the public on legal anti-trafficking provisions.


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