[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

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

Egypt is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Some of Egypt’s estimated one million street children – both boys and girls – are exploited in prostitution and forced begging. Local gangs are, at times, involved in this exploitation. Egyptian children are recruited for domestic and agricultural labor; some of these children face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude, such as restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. In addition, wealthy men from the Gulf reportedly travel to Egypt to purchase “temporary marriages” with Egyptian females, including girls who are under the age of 18; these arrangements are often facilitated by the females’ parents and marriage brokers. Child sex tourism is increasingly reported in Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor. Young, female Sudanese refugees, including those under 18, may be coerced into prostitution in Cairo’s nightclubs by family or Sudanese gang members. Egypt is a transit country for women trafficked from Uzbekistan, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, and other Eastern European countries to Israel for sexual exploitation; organized crime groups are involved in these movements.

The Government of Egypt does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government enacted amendments to the Child Law prohibiting child trafficking, provided training for government officials on the use of these amendments, and began the prosecution of several alleged sex trafficking offenders. Despite these overall efforts, the government did not show adequate progress in advancing anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last year; therefore Egypt is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The government continues to lack formal victim identification procedures and protection services, and some victims of trafficking are punished for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The government took minimal steps to combat the serious issues of child sex tourism and the involuntary domestic servitude of children or to raise awareness of trafficking among the general public.

Recommendations for Egypt: Substantially increase law enforcement activity against trafficking, including the growing problems of the involuntary domestic servitude of children and child sex trafficking; draft and enact legislation criminalizing all forms of human trafficking; institute and apply a formal victim identification procedure to ensure that trafficking victims are not punished or otherwise treated as criminals for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; provide in-kind or financial support to NGOs providing protection services to victims; and implement a comprehensive public information campaign to educate the public on the definition and dangers of trafficking.

Egypt made progress on punishing trafficking crimes during this reporting period. The Egyptian penal code does not prohibit all forms of trafficking; the Unified Labor Law does not define forced labor and there are no provisions against it. In June 2008, however, the government enacted amendments to the Child Law (No. 126 of 2008), which include provisions prohibiting the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. These amendments prescribe sentences of at least five years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes. The National Council on Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) began drafting by-laws to guide enforcement of the amendments to the child protection law. The Anti-Prostitution Law of 1961 prohibits the use of coercion, threats, or abuse to induce a person into prostitution and the commercial sexual exploitation of those under 21 years old. Penalties prescribed for the above crimes range from one to seven years’ imprisonment; these are also sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes. Unlike other child laborers, however, child domestic workers are not protected under existing labor laws. In September 2008, the National Coordinating Committee to Combat and Prevent Trafficking in Persons began drafting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law.

Under the Child Law and the Anti-Prostitution Law, the Alexandria Public Prosecutor’s Office commenced in March 2009 with the prosecution of two defendants suspected of kidnapping eight street children and forcing them to engage in prostitution with wealthy Egyptians and tourists from the Gulf States in exchange for money. Also in March, the South Giza Prosecutors Office initiated the prosecution of a man and his wife on charges of selling their three daughters into prostitution to tourists from the Gulf for $550 a week per child. The Egyptian government did not, however, report efforts to investigate or prosecute cases of the involuntary domestic servitude of children. The Public Prosecutor’s office created and distributed a booklet on investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases to prosecutors working with children, and trained 125 prosecutors working on children’s cases. In 2008, the NCCM trained 45prosecutors and judges on human trafficking.

Egypt made minimal progress in protecting victims of trafficking during the reporting period. The Ministry of Social Solidarity continued to operate 19 drop-in centers for street children, women, and the disabled that may have provided care to trafficking victims in 2008; these centers, however, are only open during the day and do not provide comprehensive services for trafficking victims. In January 2009, the NCCM, in partnership with an international NGO, launched a day center in Cairo to rehabilitate abused street boys involved in forced begging or petty crime; to date, NCCM provided 25 boys with counseling, medical care, and literacy and computer classes, while the NGO operated the facility. In March 2009, the Alexandria Public Prosecutor’s office transferred eight boys victimized by sex trafficking to the NCCM and the Ministries of Health and Social Solidarity for medical, psychological, and rehabilitation services. The NCCM operated a 24-hour hotline to respond to complaints of child abuse, though it lacks the capability to retain information on whether any of the calls received concerned trafficking. Specialized care for adults or foreign victims, including Sudanese women in forced prostitution, was not provided. Despite receiving training in victim identification, the government did not employ formal procedures to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to providers of care; as a result, trafficking victims, including street children and women arrested for prostitution, were often treated as criminals rather than victims. In prisons or detention centers, law enforcement officers may have further mistreated these victims through verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Foreign victims are not offered legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution. The government does not actively encourage victims to assist in investigations against their traffickers.

Egypt made minimal efforts to prevent trafficking in persons during the reporting period. The National Center for Criminological and Social Research officially began a comprehensive study on the scope of trafficking in Egypt. In November 2008, the National Council for Human Rights held a seminar and a roundtable discussion on human trafficking. During the second half of 2008, NCCM trained 107 social workers, 35 health inspectors, and 191 officials from various ministries on the Child Law’s amendments and the UN TIP Protocol. The first lady’s anti-trafficking advocacy during the reporting period led to a substantial increase in press coverage on the subject. Nonetheless, the government did not institute any public campaigns to raise awareness on trafficking. The government similarly made no discernible efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or to raise awareness of sex tourism. In March 2009, Giza Security arrested and criminally charged three men from the Gulf who had paid the parents of three young girls in order to sexually exploit the girls. There were no reports of the Egyptian government’s efforts to provide anti-trafficking training for its troops before they deployed on international peacekeeping missions.