[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

BURKINA FASO (TIER 2)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Burkina Faso is a source, transit, and destination country for children and women trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Most victims are children, trafficked within the country from rural areas to urban centers such as Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso, for domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, and forced labor in gold mines and stone quarries, and the agriculture sector. Burkinabè children are also trafficked for the same purposes to other West African countries, most notably to Côte d’Ivoire, where many are subjected to forced agricultural labor, including on cocoa farms. Children are also trafficked from Burkina Faso to Mali, Benin, Nigeria, Niger and Togo, and Ghana. Burkinabè children are also trafficked to Mali for forced begging by religious teachers. In the past year, children were also trafficked from Burkina Faso to Sudan. Children from these West African countries are trafficked to Burkina Faso for the same purposes listed above. To a lesser extent, Burkina Faso is a source country for women lured to Europe with promises of jobs as maids, but who are forced into prostitution after arrival. Women from Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ghana, and Niger reportedly are trafficked to Burkina Faso for forced labor in bars or for commercial sexual exploitation.

The Government of Burkina Faso 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. Burkina Faso’s law enforcement efforts improved with the passage of legislation prohibiting all forms of trafficking that supersedes a prior law that criminalized only child trafficking. The government also investigated and prosecuted an increased number of trafficking offenders, though sentences imposed on convicted traffickers remained low. Protection efforts remained solid.

Recommendations for Burkina Faso: Increase penalties imposed on convicted trafficking offenders; train police and government social workers to identify trafficking victims among women in prostitution; ensure that sex trafficking victims are not penalized under anti-prostitution laws; and increase efforts to raise awareness about trafficking.

The Government of Burkina Faso increased its law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking over the last year. In May 2008, the government passed Law 029-2008 on Combating Trafficking in Persons and Related Practices that prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes sentences of five years’ to life imprisonment for those convicted of trafficking offenses. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for rape. This law supersedes the nation’s 2003 Law No. 038-2003 concerning the Definition of Child Trafficking which criminalized child trafficking and prescribed a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment. Burkina Faso’s Penal Affairs Officer reported that in 2008, the government arrested 40 child trafficking suspects, 16 of whom were cleared of all charges and released, and 11 of whom were prosecuted, convicted, and given sentences of one to twelve months’ imprisonment. Five of these traffickers were given sentences of far less than one years’ imprisonment. Four traffickers received sentences of six months which the court considered completed at the time of sentencing due to lengthy pre-trial detention since 2007. An additional thirteen suspects are awaiting trial. The government collaborated with international donors and NGOs to conduct anti-trafficking training for 165 lawyers, magistrates, security personnel, social workers, civil society activists, and local vigilance committee members throughout the country.

The Government of Burkina Faso demonstrated solid efforts to protect trafficking victims over the last year. Due to limited resources, the government did not provide services directly to victims. When government authorities identified victims, however, they ensured that they received access to necessary services by referring them to NGOs and international organizations. The Burkinabè government reported that between January and December 2008, its security forces and regional anti-trafficking surveillance committees intercepted approximately 691 Burkinabè and foreign child trafficking victims, 438 of whom were boys and 153 of whom were girls. Two hundred forty-five of these children were being trafficked from Burkina Faso to neighboring West African countries, while three of these were being trafficked to Sudan. The remaining children were victims of internal trafficking within Burkina Faso. All of these children received care at one of 23 transit centers jointly funded by the government and UNICEF. In 2008, the government contributed over $54,000 to these centers. Assisted by donor-funding, government personnel helped to supervise the rehabilitation of 190 trafficking victims and helped to provide their families with micro-credit programs. After victims receive care at transit centers, the government coordinates the repatriation of foreign nationals with counterparts in the victims’ countries of origin, processes these victims’ travel documents, and collaborates with donors to ensure a safe return. Burkina Faso is a party to the ECOWAS-ECCAS 2006 anti-trafficking agreement and plan of action, through which officials in Burkina Faso in 2008 cooperated with counterparts in nearby countries to intercept and repatriate 248 West African child trafficking victims, including 51 girls. Police do not exhibit any systematic effort to identify trafficking victims among women and girls in prostitution. The government does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution. Nationals of ECOWAS states, including trafficking victims, however, may legally reside and work in Burkina Faso. Government officials encourage victims to assist in trafficking investigations or prosecutions.

The Government of Burkina Faso continued trafficking prevention efforts over the last year. Government-operated media broadcast anti-trafficking and child labor radio and television programs, films, theater, and debates, often in collaboration with NGOs and reportedly targeting over 300,000 people during the year. In collaboration with NGOs and international organizations, the government held workshops and seminars for civil society groups and government officials on child trafficking, primarily on prevention, protection, rehabilitation, and reintegration. The government made a financial contribution to these workshops. The national action plan against trafficking, which the government adopted in 2007, has yet to be implemented due to lack of funding. In the last year, the National Anti-trafficking Committee met twice. The government made no discernable efforts to reduce demand for forced and child labor in the country. The government took some steps to reduce demand for commercial sex acts in Burkina Faso by closing a number of brothels in Ouagadougou in July 2008.