Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Niger

NIGER (Tier 2 Watch List)

Niger is a source, transit, and destination country for children and women trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Caste-based slavery practices, rooted in ancestral master-slave relationships, continue in isolated areas of the country. An estimated 8,800 to 43,000 Nigeriens live under conditions of traditional slavery. Children are trafficked within Niger for forced begging by religious instructors, forced labor in gold mines, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, and possibly for forced labor in agriculture and stone quarries. Nigerien children are also subjected to commercial sexual exploitation along the border with Nigeria, particularly in the towns of Birni N'Konni and Zinder, and are trafficked to Nigeria and Mali for forced begging and manual labor. Women and children from Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo are trafficked to and through Niger for domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, forced labor in mines and on farms, and as mechanics and welders. Nigerien women and children are trafficked from Niger to North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.

The Government of Niger does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so, despite limited resources. Niger has nonetheless been placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to eliminate trafficking in the last year. In particular, measures to combat and eliminate traditional slavery practices were weak. The government's overall law enforcement efforts have stalled from the previous year. While efforts to protect child trafficking victims were steady, the government failed to provide services to or rescue adult victims subjected to traditional slavery practices. Similarly, the government made solid efforts to raise awareness about child trafficking, but poor efforts to educate the public about traditional slavery practices in general.

Recommendations for Niger: Pass and enact its 2006 draft legislation against trafficking; strengthen efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders, including those guilty of slavery offenses; increase efforts to rescue victims of traditional slavery practices; adopt the draft national action plans to combat slavery and trafficking; sign and implement its draft bilateral accord with Nigeria; and increase efforts to raise awareness about traditional slavery practices and the law against slavery.


The Government of Niger decreased its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last year, particularly with respect to slavery. Niger prohibits slavery through a 2003 amendment to Article 270 of its Penal Code and prohibits forced and compulsory labor through Article 4 of its Labor Code. Niger does not, however, prohibit other forms of trafficking. The prescribed penalty of 10 to 30 years' imprisonment for slavery offenses is sufficiently stringent. The prescribed penalty of a fine ranging from $48 to $598 and six days to one month's imprisonment for forced labor is not sufficiently stringent. In 2006, the government drafted a law against trafficking that has yet to be submitted to the Council of Ministers. In the last year, law enforcement authorities arrested 22 suspects in connection with the trafficking of 172 children. Seventeen of these suspects were released without being charged, four were charged with abduction of minors, and one was handed over to officials in Mali. Of the four individuals charged, one was sentenced in April 2007 to two years' imprisonment for abducting her six-year-old nephew to sell him in Nigeria. The government was unable to provide an update on the status of two individuals detained and charged with enslavement in 2006. An additional three slavery cases have been pending since 2004. The Ministry of Justice approved the inclusion of an anti-trafficking training course, which focuses on special investigative techniques, international cooperation, and victim and witness protection, into the national law enforcement curriculum. Although Niger and Nigeria prepared a bilateral cooperation agreement to combat trafficking in December 2006, it has yet to be signed.


The Government of Niger demonstrated steady efforts to protect child trafficking victims over the last year, but poor efforts to protect adult and child victims of traditional slavery practices. Due to lack of resources, the government does not operate its own victim shelter, but refers child trafficking victims to NGOs for assistance. The government also provided some basic health care to trafficking victims. The government referred 182 child victims to NGOs for care in the last year. The government failed to report rescues of traditional caste-based slaves or to provide them with social services. To combat trafficking of boys for forced begging by religious instructors, the government developed a plan to restructure Islamic schools and increased instructor salaries. The government encourages victims to report their traffickers to law enforcement officials and allows NGOs to assist victims in pursuing prosecutions against traffickers. The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) runs a program to welcome and shelter, for about one week, repatriated Nigerien victims of trafficking. MOI officials interview victims to understand what happened in their cases and help them return to their homes in Niger. The government does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution. Victims are not inappropriately incarcerated or fined for unlawful acts as a direct result of being trafficked.


The Government of Niger made solid efforts to educate the public about child trafficking during the reporting period. Government efforts to raise awareness about traditional slavery practices were poor, however. In June 2007, the Minister of Women's Promotion and Child Protection made a public speech acknowledging that "urgent measures" were needed to address the problem of child trafficking. She also chaired a panel discussion about trafficking that was aired on national radio. In June 2007, the government collaborated with UNICEF and NGOs to educate hotel and cyber café managers about child sexual exploitation. In November 2007, the National Commission on Human Rights and Fundamental Liberties established a national coordination committee to conduct a six-month government-funded study on forced labor, child labor, and slavery practices. Niger's 2006 draft national action plan to combat trafficking and draft plan to combat forced labor linked to slavery have yet to be adopted. While the National Commission for the Control of Trafficking in Persons established in 2006 continued to exist, it had no budget. Niger did not take measures to reduce demand for commercial sex acts during the year.

Niger tier ranking by year


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