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

Ethiopia (Tier 2)

Ethiopia is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Young Ethiopian women are trafficked to Djibouti and the Middle East, particularly Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, for involuntary domestic labor. A small percentage are trafficked for sexual exploitation, with some women reportedly trafficked onward from Lebanon to Europe. Small numbers of men are trafficked to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states for exploitation as low-skilled laborers. Both children and adults are trafficked internally from rural to urban areas for domestic labor and, to a lesser extent, for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, such as street vending.

The Government of Ethiopia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. To further its efforts to combat trafficking, the government should put in place laws that prohibit all forms of trafficking, begin compiling comprehensive law enforcement statistics, and launch a nationwide public awareness campaign.


The government made progress in furthering its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the reporting period. Ethiopia's criminal code narrowly defines trafficking as inducing women or children to engage in prostitution, and cannot be invoked against traffickers for forced labor. Labor traffickers are often charged with enslavement, but this does not cover deceptive or fraudulent work claims made to voluntary migrants. A penal code revision containing provisions that address these loopholes was debated and passed by the Parliament in early 2005. The new provisions will become law in May 2005. During the year, police apprehended 31 traffickers; 30 cases remain under investigation. Prosecutions are pending in 48 prior cases, and Ethiopia reached its first conviction in March 2004, sentencing a man to six months' imprisonment for trafficking two children. In December 2004, police arrested 19 people attempting to traffic more than 200 Ethiopians through Somalia to Saudi Arabia. The victims were returned to their homes and the case is under investigation. The Ministry of Justice introduced new statistical methods to track the outcome of arrests; comprehensive statistics have not yet been produced.


Protective services for victims greatly increased over the last year. Staff of Ethiopia's consulate in Beirut increased from two to six persons, all primarily devoted to supporting Ethiopians trafficked to Lebanon. In 2004, the government opened a consulate in Dubai for the same purpose. During the year, the Child Protection Units in each of Addis Ababa's ten police stations monitored for situations of trafficking in persons. Police officers and counselors stationed at the Central Bus Terminal – a known transit point for children trafficked from rural areas – rescued 210 child trafficking victims in 2004. Police officials transferred these children to local NGOs for care; 197 were reunited with their families. The Ministry of Labor provided bus transportation to home villages to 27 trafficked women returning from Yemen.


Ethiopia's anti-trafficking prevention efforts improved during the reporting period. In 2004, the government formed an inter-agency anti-trafficking task force that began developing a national plan for combating trafficking. The task force also formed three subcommittees for legal issues, data collection, and public awareness that analyzed existing studies on the issue and publicized relevant messages through local media. The Ministry of Education, in coordination with IOM, organized group discussions on the topic of trafficking in 200 secondary schools. The government continued its supervision of five legal labor migration firms that are required to provide pre-departure counseling on the trafficking-related risks of overseas employment. During the year, immigration officials began fully enforcing the requirement that workers traveling to the Middle East present a Ministry of Labor-certified work contract before departing.


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