CONGO, REPUBLIC OF THE (Tier 2 Watch List)

The Republic of the Congo (ROC) is a source country for children trafficked within its borders for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation, as well as a destination country for children trafficked from other African countries for the same purposes. Within the ROC, boys and girls are trafficked from rural areas, primarily from the Pool Region, to Point Noire and Brazzaville for forced street vending and domestic servitude. Girls are trafficked from rural areas primarily to Brazzaville, but also to Pointe Noire, for commercial sexual exploitation. Transnationally, children are trafficked from other African countries to Pointe Noire for domestic servitude, forced market vending and forced labor in the fishing industry. The majority of these victims are girls and most are from Benin, although some are also trafficked from Mali, Guinea, Togo, Senegal, and Cameroon. The Beninese Consulate in Brazzaville has estimated that 1,800 Beninese children may be subjected to domestic servitude in the ROC. UNICEF reported that young girls, lured by promises of jobs in the ROC or onward voyages to France, Canada, and South Africa, are trafficked from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Brazzaville for organized prostitution. Children may be trafficked to the ROC from the DRC for forced commercial activities, such as street vending, domestic servitude, tailoring, hairdressing, and food service.

The Government of the ROC 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. Despite these efforts, the government did not show evidence of progress in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts and in the protection of trafficking victims; therefore, the Republic of the Congo is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. In late April 2009, the government enacted the Child Protection Code, which contains provisions prohibiting child trafficking. Since 2003, the ROC has struggled to recover from six years of civil conflict that crippled its institutions, ravaged its economy, and rendered its children more vulnerable to being trafficked.

Recommendations for the ROC: Train law enforcement officials to identify traffickers and arrest them under relevant laws; train social workers and law enforcement officials to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, and refer them to foreign government consulates, foster families, international organizations, faith-based groups, or NGOs for care.


The Government of the ROC demonstrated weak law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking during the last year. The ROC does not prohibit all forms of trafficking. Penal Code Article 344 criminalizes the pimping of children, however, prescribing penalties of from six months' to two years' imprisonment and a fine, punishments that are neither sufficiently stringent nor commensurate with those prescribed for rape. The government reported no trafficking prosecutions or convictions under related laws in the last year. In January 2009, two girls from the ROC, ages six and 16, arrived with fraudulent travel documents into Paris on a flight from Brazzaville. The girls were accompanied by two other young girls from Kinshasa, but no parent or guardian accompanied the four children. The Government of the ROC is neither investigating on its own nor collaborating with French officials to determine whether this case involved child trafficking. On April 30, 2009, a Child Protection Code that includes provisions against child trafficking was passed by Parliament. Between April and August 2008, the government collaborated with UNICEF to conduct several training workshops about this law for Central African government officials and representatives from the Consulates of Benin, Togo, and the DRC. The government contributed the training sites and personnel to assist with logistics.


The ROC government continued poor efforts to protect trafficking victims over the last year. The government neither operates a trafficking victim shelter nor collaborates with NGOs to provide rescued victims with food, shelter, or other assistance. The government has not yet developed formal procedures through which police and government social workers may identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as street children, child laborers, illegal immigrants and women in prostitution. As a result, victims may be inappropriately incarcerated or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The ROC government reported rescuing an unknown number of trafficking victims during the year. Government staff worked with UNICEF, the NGO Action Against Trafficking of West African Children, and other civil society groups, to help repatriate victims back to their African home countries, particularly Benin. The government did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution. The government did not encourage victims to assist in trafficking investigations or prosecutions.


The Government of the ROC made limited efforts to prevent incidents of trafficking during the reporting period. A plan of action against trafficking in Point Noir, which the government developed with UNICEF over the past three years, was finalized in 2008. With funding from UNICEF, the government helped implement the plan in May 2008 in Point Noire by providing sites for UNICEF-conducted trafficking awareness training. One workshop, hosted by the Ministry of Health, educated local NGOs about trafficking. Additional workshops raised awareness among Central African and foreign government representatives and resulted in the creation of an anti-trafficking working group headed by the Ministry of Health and consisting of law enforcement officials, local community leaders, and representatives from the Consulates of Benin, Togo, and the DRC. The government has not taken measures to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts in the ROC. The ROC has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


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