COTE D'IVOIRE (Tier 2 Watch List)
Cote d'Ivoire is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficking within the country is more prevalent than international trafficking and the majority of victims are children. Women and girls are trafficked from northern areas to southern cities for domestic servitude, restaurant labor, and sexual exploitation. A 2007 study by the German government's foreign aid organization on child sex trafficking in two Ivoirian districts found that 85 percent of females in prostitution are children. Boys are trafficked internally for agricultural and service labor. Transnationally, boys are trafficked from Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Benin to Cote d'Ivoire for forced agricultural labor, from Guinea for forced mining, from Togo for forced construction labor, from Benin for forced carpentry work, and from Ghana and Togo for forced labor in the fishing industry. Women and girls are trafficked to and from other West and Central African countries for domestic servitude and forced street vending. Women and girls from Ghana and Nigeria are trafficked to urban centers in Cote d'Ivoire for sexual exploitation. To a lesser extent, women are trafficked from China, Ukraine, the Philippines, and North Africa to Cote d'Ivoire for the same purpose. Women are trafficked from and through Cote d'Ivoire to Europe for sexual exploitation. Reports indicate that Ivoirian children conscripted by rebel and militia groups during the civil conflict remain with these groups and are still exploited for purposes of forced labor in a non-combat capacity.
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. Cote d'Ivoire is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to eliminate trafficking over the previous year, particularly with regard to its law enforcement efforts and protection of sex trafficking victims. Although a 2007 study indicated that sex trafficking, particularly of minors, is widespread, the government did not allocate sufficient resources to address it. Authorities did not take adequate steps to identify and protect adult victims of trafficking, and reports that security officials have engaged in harassment and exploitation of some victims have not been investigated.
Recommendations for Cote d'Ivoire: Finalize its draft statute against child trafficking; draft and enact a law against trafficking of adults; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; provide resources, such as vehicles, to police to enable them to respond to reports of trafficking; develop formal procedures for identifying trafficking victims among women and girls in prostitution; ensure that trafficking victims are not penalized as criminals for acts committed as a result of being trafficked; collaborate with NGOs and the international community in providing care for adult trafficking victims; and fulfill commitments to the international community to work with private cocoa companies to survey 50 percent of all cocoa-producing regions to measure the incidence of worst forms of child labor and forced adult labor by July 2008.
The Government of Cote d'Ivoire demonstrated inadequate efforts to address trafficking though law enforcement during the reporting period. Ivoirian law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking. However, Penal Code Article 378 prohibits forced labor, prescribing sufficiently stringent penalties of one to five years' imprisonment and a fine. Penal Code Articles 335 to 337 prohibit recruiting or offering children for prostitution, prescribing penalties of one to 10 years' imprisonment and a fine, which are sufficiently stringent and appear not to be commensurate with the penalties prescribed for rape. Ivoirian law does not criminalize the trafficking of adults for labor or sexual exploitation. In January 2007, the government drafted a new bill prohibiting child trafficking and child labor which, once approved by the cabinet, could be enacted by signature of the President, but some officials advocate for its passage instead by the National Assembly. Due to delayed legislative elections, however, Cote d'Ivoire has lacked a National Assembly since 2005, when its mandate expired. Police records indicate that from April 2007 to January 2008, officials arrested 12 suspected traffickers. Authorities indicated that several were detained, but could not provide further information. The government failed to report any trafficking prosecutions and convictions during the year. In 2007, police arrested the president of the Beninese community in Daloa for trafficking 25 Beninese children for work on Ivoirian plantations. As a general matter, however, the government rarely investigates trafficking cases, in part due to lack of resources. Police reported that they occasionally execute raids on brothels, but provided no statistics on the number of raids in the last year or evidence that such raids are targeted at trafficking. At the same time, NGOs and others reporting specific instances of women and children being trafficked in brothels are often told that police are unable to respond due to lack of vehicles. The National School for Civil Servants, with the help of the ILO, continues to include a course on child labor as part of the curriculum for Workplace Inspectors.
The Ivoirian government made steady efforts to provide care to victims of child labor trafficking, but insufficient efforts to protect adult and sex trafficking victims during the year. Due to lack of resources, the government does not operate its own shelter, but instead refers victims to NGOs and international organizations for care. The government also assigns civil servant social workers with government-paid salaries to work at NGOs assisting victims. In Bonoua, the mayor and deputy mayor have assigned their assistants to work with local anti-trafficking watch groups and provided an office and a room to accommodate child victims until they are picked up by NGOs. An international NGO also continues to use a building donated by the government as a shelter for child victims. However, the organization reports that the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights has been trying to reclaim the building. The government repatriates foreign victims with assistance from IOM and UNICEF. There is no formal government assistance for Ivoirian nationals repatriated to Cote d'Ivoire. Official police records indicate that from April 2007 to January 2008, 135 Ivoirian trafficking victims were intercepted and either repatriated or returned to their home communities in Cote d'Ivoire. The majority of these victims were labor trafficking victims. The government continued to support Community Education Centers (CECs) established in 2005 to receive and educate children removed from the worst forms of child labor, particularly in the cocoa sector. The government provides some teachers to the CECs, while Ivoirian families contribute funds to pay the rest of the teachers. The Ivoirian police lack systematic procedures to employ in identifying trafficking victims among females found in prostitution, making it likely that sex trafficking victims were detained and penalized for unlawful acts directly related to being trafficked, such as prostitution or immigration offenses. Of particular concern, NGOs report that security officials exploit women in prostitution, including trafficking victims, sometimes threatening to arrest foreign women without documentation if they refuse to engage in sex. The government failed to investigate such NGO reports. The government provides legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution through temporary residency permits, though it does not encourage victims to assist in trafficking investigations or prosecutions.
The Government of Cote d'Ivoire demonstrated sustained efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. In November 2007, the government approved a national plan of action to eliminate child trafficking and the worst forms of child labor in 50 percent of all industries. Cote d'Ivoire's 2008 budget allocates $4.3 million toward implementing the action plan. The government continued to work with private cocoa companies to collect data to measure the incidence of the worst forms of child labor and forced adult labor in the cocoa sector. The police reported that they took steps to reduce demand for commercial sex acts by executing raids on brothels, but could not provide details as to how many raids were conducted. Cote d'Ivoire has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.