COTE D'IVOIRE (TIER 2 Watch List) [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]
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 transnational trafficking, and the majority of victims are children. Within Cote d’Ivoire, women and girls are trafficked primarily for domestic servitude, restaurant labor, and sexual exploitation. A 2007 study by the German government’s foreign aid organization found that 85 percent of females in prostitution in two Ivoirian districts were children. Boys are trafficked within the country for agricultural and service labor. They are also trafficked from Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, and Ghana to Cote d’Ivoire for forced agricultural labor, including work in the cocoa sector. Boys from Guinea are trafficked to Cote d’Ivoire 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 are trafficked from other West African countries, most notably from Ghana, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso, to Cote d’Ivoire for commercial sexual exploitation. Women are trafficked from and through Cote d’Ivoire to Europe for sexual exploitation.
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. The government’s law enforcement efforts to address trafficking increased with the conviction of sex traffickers over the last year. Despite these efforts, the government did not demonstrate progress over the last year in prosecute traffickers of children for prostitution or forced labor; therefore, Cote d’Ivoire is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.
Recommendations for Cote d’Ivoire: Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers; develop systematic procedures for identifying trafficking victims among women and girls in prostitution; step up efforts to educate government officials about trafficking, particularly child sex trafficking; intensify efforts to provide care to trafficking victims by making available funds allocated for construction of victim shelters; ensure that trafficking victims are not penalized for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
From April to July 2008, Ivoirian police investigated three trafficking cases and sent one suspected trafficker to a tribunal for prosecution. The suspect was released without being charged. A different suspect arrested in April 2008 for trafficking two Beninese children for construction labor in the housing industry was also released without being formally charged. In October 2008, the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire reported that a Beninese man allegedly forced five children from Benin to work long hours on cocoa plantations and in restaurants in Vavoua. Officials from the Forces Nouvelles (FN), which carried out the 2002 rebellion and remain in control of some areas of the country, arrested and placed him in prison. When the man agreed to pay the equivalent of $1,600 to house and eventually repatriate the victims, the FN released him. The government reported that in 2008, it obtained the convictions of four Nigerien nationals who had trafficked women from Niger and Nigeria to Cote d’Ivoire for sexual exploitation. The court imposed penalties of from 12 to 36 months’ imprisonment and fines on the convicted traffickers. The government did not report any prosecutions of individuals subjecting children to trafficking in prostitution or in the cocoa sector.
Police reported quarterly raids on brothels. Officials reported that in two cases during the year, police questioned women in prostitution to identify whether they were trafficking victims. NGOs reported that law enforcement officials continued to exploit women in prostitution, sometimes threatening to arrest foreign women without documentation if they refused to engage in sex. During the year, Ivoirian police conducted a joint investigation with Ghanaian authorities to pursue a Ghanaian trafficker who had taken two Togolese children into Cote d’Ivoire. The government also paid to lodge judges who attended a donor-funded anti-trafficking training course.
The government continued to operate community education centers and mobile schools for victims of child trafficking and the worst forms of child labor. The National Committee Against Trafficking also repatriated 25 child victims of trafficking to their home countries during the reporting period. The committee referred an additional 21 children to the NGO BICE (Bureau International Catholique de l’Enfance) for repatriation. There is currently no formal government program for Ivoirian nationals repatriated to Cote d’Ivoire, although the Ministry of Family is occasionally called on to provide assistance. In September 2008, the Ministry of Family (MOF), in collaboration with UNICEF, published a manual detailing government procedures for providing care to child labor and trafficking victims.
The MOF is responsible for all aspects of foreign victim repatriation, including notifying the victims’ consular offices or embassies, informing officials in the victims’ home countries, contacting NGOs with the means to assist with shelter and repatriation, and organizing transportation expenses for victims and their escorts during the repatriation process. Once victims reach their country of origin, MOF representatives entrust them to government authorities.
Both the MOF and the National Police employed social workers to assist victims immediately upon their identification. During the year, however, police did not identify any children being prostituted in a brothel as trafficking victims, instead characterizing them as consensually in prostitution. The government systematically encouraged victims to assist in trafficking investigations and prosecutions. The government provided temporary residence permits to foreign victims from countries where they might face hardship or retribution. ECOWAS nationals, including trafficking victims, may legally reside and work in Cote d’Ivoire.
During the year, the police reported that they took steps to reduce demand for commercial sex acts by raiding brothels, but did not follow systematic procedures in all cases to identify trafficking victims among females in prostitution. Cote d’Ivoire’s 2008 budget allocated $4.3 million toward implementing all aspects of the national action plan against child trafficking and the worst forms of child labor; however, no funds were disbursed during the reporting period. The government did not take measures to insure that its nationals deployed abroad as part of peacekeeping missions do not engage in or facilitate trafficking. Cote d’Ivoire has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.