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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                             

Gabonese Republic (Gabon)

Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations, but because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for more than 50% of GDP.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Gabon

Gabon is a destination country for children and young adults trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation.

Girls are primarily trafficked for domestic servitude, forced market vending, forced restaurant labor, and commercial sexual exploitation, while boys are trafficked for forced street hawking and forced labor in small workshops. Children reportedly are also trafficked to Gabon from other African countries for forced labor in agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing, and mining. Inc

Reports also indicate that some indigenous Pygmies are subjected to slavery-like conditions, without effective recourse in the judicial system.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Gabon.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to verify their authenticity or to validate their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Written statement from Anti-Slavery International for agenda item 13 of the provisional agenda

UN Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, 56th Session, Geneva, 20 March- 28 April 2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

Traffickers promise good money and training in order to persuade the parents to send their children abroad. However, after the children arrive in Gabon neither the child nor their parents are paid for the work they do. The children interviewed in Gabon often told harrowing stories of their journey from Bénin to Gabon and many complained of bad working conditions and being deprived of food once they arrived. Over half of the children interviewed said that they had been beaten by their employers.  Even where children are rescued from these conditions, they are likely to encounter feelings of alienation from their own family and culture and must undergo a long and difficult task of reintegration.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Gabon

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 7 June 7, 2021]


Boys were subject to forced labor as mechanics, as well as in work in handicraft shops and sand quarries. Boys and men were subject to forced labor in agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing, and mining. Girls and women were exploited in domestic servitude, market vending, restaurants, and commercial sexual exploitation. Conditions included very low pay and long forced hours. Migrants were especially vulnerable to forced labor (see section 7.c.).

Limited reporting suggested that illegal and unregulated foreign fishing trawlers may have engaged in the forced labor of boys. Widespread poverty resulted in the increased risk of exploitation in the country, but the small scale of artisanal fishing suggested that trafficking was limited to foreign fishing operations. The industrial fishing fleet operating in Gabonese territorial waters was composed mostly of illegal, primarily Chinese, industrial-scale fish trawlers, with unknown status of workers on board.


Children were sometimes subject to forced and exploitive labor in markets, restaurants, and handicraft shops, as well as on farms and in sand quarries. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as of October the government had not organized the repatriation of any foreign children exploited in trafficking.

Noncitizen children were more likely than were children of citizens to work in informal and illegal sectors of the economy, where laws against child labor were seldom enforced. An unknown number of children, primarily noncitizens, worked in marketplaces or performed domestic labor. Many of these children were the victims of child trafficking (see section 7.b.). According to NGOs, some citizen children, particularly street children, also worked in the informal sector.

Child laborers generally did not attend school, received only limited medical attention, and often experienced exploitation by employers or foster families. In an effort to curb the problem, police often fined the parents of children who were not in school. Laws forbidding child labor covered these children, but abuses often were not reported.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 27 April 2020]


Wage standards and laws against forced labor are poorly enforced, particularly in the informal sector and with respect to foreign workers. Both adults and children are exploited in a number of different occupations, and foreign women are trafficked to Gabon for prostitution or domestic servitude.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 17 April 2019]

[accessed 27 April 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 425]

Gabon is primarily a destination and transit country for victims of child trafficking from other countries in Central and West Africa. (1; 3; 13; 16; 10; 4) Some parents entrust their children to intermediaries who subject them to child trafficking for labor exploitation rather than providing education and safe work opportunities; however, there is limited evidence of child trafficking occurring within Gabon. (4) A national child labor survey or similar research has not been conducted in Gabon. (17).

A Study on Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation within th Gulf of Guinea countries

James Okolie-Osemene PhD, Department of International Relations and the Director of Research and Linkage Programme, Wellspring University, Nigeria

[Long URL]

[accessed 14 February 2022]

The objectives of this study are to situate and examine the context, nature and networks of human trafficking for sexual exploitation around the Gulf of Guinea in order to identify the intersection between the sources, transit and destinations of the illicit trade, interrogate the human rights implications of human trafficking for sexual exploitation around the countries of the Gulf of Guinea on the one hand, and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the anti-trafficking activities on the other hand.

War is Boring: U.S. Navy Renders Aid to Gabonese Trafficking Victims

David Axe, World Politics Review, Libreville Gabon, 22 Apr 2009

[partially accessed 6 February 2011 - access restricted]

It's a crisis that intersects with another. Across Africa, but especially in the central part of the continent, boys are sold, coerced or kidnapped into military service in both government and rebel armies. Many of these child soldiers also flee their captors, especially during combat, and end up homeless on the streets of major cities, where aid groups struggle to find and care for them.   Children represent a major commodity in a dark economy of violence and exploitation that is perhaps most prominent in West and Central Africa.   Escudero described Gabon as an importer of child slaves, "either for cheap manual labor or to work in people's homes or factories. Often these kids win up on streets, if they've been abused at home or mistreated where they're working."

Gabon cracks down on child trafficking

Mail & Guardian Online, South Africa, 01/04/2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

Child trafficking to Gabon gained momentum in the 1970s, when the country's oil wealth made it a magnet for the nationals of poorer neighbouring states. According to the ministry of social and family affairs, there are currently about 25 000 exploited children in Gabon -- about half of whom come from Togo, Nigeria and Benin.

Rights-Gabon: Hopefully, the Beginning of the End for Child Traffickers

Antoine Lawson, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Libreville, 24 February 2005

[accessed 16 July 2013]

For the first time in its history, the country is to try persons accused of these crimes.  Eight nationals from Benin and Togo who have been indicted for trafficking and exploitation face imprisonment of up to five years if convicted - and fines of between 200 and 2,000 dollars. These penalties are stipulated in a law aimed at protecting children against exploitation that was adopted in 2002, but which has yet to be enforced.

GABON: Laws fail to curb child trafficking racket

Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Libreville, 4 February 2005

[accessed 9 March 2015]

Gabon passed a law against trafficking and child exploitation in 2002, but the first police roundup of child traffickers and their victims only took place on the 24 January - nearly three years later.  The authorities arrested 60 young people from Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and Niger, along with 20 of their suspected adult employers, who were all immigrants from West Africa themselves.  The youths, ranging in age from eight to 26, were taken into care prior to being reunited with their families.  But to the disappointment of childrens' rights activists, the "uncles" and "guardians" to whom they were forced to surrender their earnings, were released from custody three days later.

UNICEF: War fuels Africa human trafficking

Jonathan Fowler, Associated Press, Geneva, April 23, 2004

[accessed 27 April 2020]

"Every country represents a different problem," Rossi told reporters at a meeting of African Union ministers in Benin. "But at the national level in Africa there is a lack of capacity to collect data."

Nigeria and Gabon are the major destinations for individuals trafficked from neighboring countries in West Africa, including strife-hit Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

WEST AFRICA: Traffickers hold thousands of children, women in bondage

Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Lagos, 12 November 2003

[accessed 9 March 2015]

Most children and women rights activists say much will not be achieved towards eradicating human trafficking without first dealing effectively with widespread poverty in West Africa because poverty is the single major cause of the trade.  Sharp losses in revenue by cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon have actually become an incentive for farmers to take in cheap, child labourers to cut costs, the activists say.  Among the poorer countries in the region, relatively affluent countries such as Cote d’Ivoire and oil-rich Nigeria and Gabon remain attractive destinations for parents to send their children to work in the care of intermediaries.

West Africa: Stop Trafficking in Child Labor

Human Rights Watch, New York, April 1, 2003

[accessed 6 February 2011]

Girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch were told to board ships for Gabon, where they worked as housemaids or in markets. In a September, 2001 case documented in the report, a boat ferrying hundreds of trafficked girls sank off the coast of Cameroon, killing nine. Other cases document girls being treated as virtual slaves, forced to work day and night peddling goods in the market, fetching water, and caring for young children. Most endured beatings and psychological abuse, including death threats and warnings they would never see their parents again.

Children’s testimony from Borderline Slavery: Child Trafficking in Togo

Human Rights Watch Testimonies, April 2003

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

ON THEIR RECRUITMENT BY CHILD TRAFFICKERS - My friend had an aunt in Gabon, and she came and saw the conditions we were living in. She said she had a good job in Gabon, so I should accompany her there and work with her. My mother was very seriously ill, and my friend’s aunt said that when we got to Gabon, she would find me a job as a trader so that I could send money to my mother for medicine…I was willing to go because of how she spoke about it. She never said how much money I would be making. - Dado K., age twenty-nine, trafficked to Gabon when she was sixteen

Modern-Day Slavery? - The scope of trafficking in persons in Africa

Kathleen Fitzgibbon, African Security Review, Vol 12 No 1, 2003

[accessed 16 July 2013]

[accessed 27 April 2020]

INTRODUCTION - Chikezie is a 13-year-old from Nigeria who was in fourth grade when a man from his area promised his family to educate him. Upon arrival in Libreville, Gabon, he was forced to hawk water and nylon bags for his ‘master’, who beat him when he did not earn as much as expected. His ‘master’ also burned him with a hot iron. Chikezie escaped to the Nigerian embassy in Gabon, which assisted his repatriation. He is now at home studying to be a chemist.

TYPES AND EXTENT OF TRAFFICKING IN AFRICA - TRAFFICKING FOR FORCED LABOUR - The ILO also estimates 200,000 to 300,000 children are trafficked each year for forced labour and sexual exploitation in West and Central Africa. ….. UNICEF estimates 25,000 foreign children are working in markets and farms in Gabon; 7,000 of them are likely trafficking victims.

Rogue Voyage of a 21st Century African Slave Ship

Austin Baynow, Strategy Page, April 19, 2001

[accessed 6 February 2011]

The West African child slave traffic works like this: Smugglers coax families in flat-broke countries like Benin and Togo into "giving up" their kids. They promise education and a better life. The going price for a child: $15. The smugglers sell the boys to plantations in wealthier places like the Ivory Coast and Gabon. If they're lucky, the girls end up as household workers. Many girls end up in brothels.

African "slave ship" highlights spread of child slavery

Trevor Johnson, World Socialist Web Site, 19 April 2001

[accessed 6 February 2011]

On March 30, the MV Etireno set sail from Benin for Gabon. The manifest of the Nigerian-registered ship said it was carrying 139 passengers. It had room for 200. The ship was turned away from Libreville, Gabon, after the Transport Ministry issued a press statement claiming there were 250 Nigerian children aboard, destined to be used as slave labour.

New Global Treaty to Combat "Sex Slavery"

United Nations Department of Public Information, DPI/2098, February 2000 -- Tenth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders

[accessed 3 September 2014]

CHILDREN SOLD OR KIDNAPPED - According to Anti-Slavery International, children aged 8 to 15 years are "recruited" or kidnapped from backward villages of the poorest countries in Africa, such as Benin or Togo, and sold as slaves to households, plantations or brothels in neighbouring countries, including Nigeria and Gabon.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1 February 2002

[accessed 6 February 2011]

[59] While noting the criminalization of trafficking of children in a recent Act of 2001 and the establishment of a national inter-ministerial committee to fight against trafficking in children, and the serious commitment of the State party with regard to this issue, the Committee is deeply concerned at the large number of trafficked children, particularly children coming from abroad, who are still exploited, mostly in the informal labour market, or enslaved.

The Protection Project - Gabon [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[Last accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Children are trafficked primarily for domestic labor,  as well as for work as street and market vendors.  The majority of children trafficked from Togo and Benin are girls, and most of the children coming from Nigeria are boys.  Traffickers taking children into Gabon commonly pose as their parents or caretakers.  Children are often taken to Gabon under the guise of going to school there. However, after arriving in Gabon, the children are denied any education and are forced to work for their “host” families. Then, when the anticipated date of graduation from the promised school approaches, the families accuse the children of stealing money and kick them out into the street. 

In addition, children from Nigeria may be trafficked to Gabon for prostitution  and menial labor.  Some of the Togolese girls initially trafficked to Gabon as housemaids are driven into prostitution there if they manage to escape from domestic servitude.

Child labor is extremely widespread. An estimated 53,000 of the 132,000 children living in Gabon are forced to work.  According to another report, an estimated 5,000 are foreign children working in Gabon.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Children (especially girls), primarily from Benin and Togo, worked as domestic servants or in the informal commercial sector. Nigerian children, also victims of trafficking, worked in the informal commercial sector as mechanics. Trafficked children generally worked long hours, were subjected to physical abuse, received inadequate food, and received no wages or schooling. No statistics were available on the number of trafficking victims in the country, but estimates ranged from 3 thousand to 25 thousand.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] An unknown number of children‑‑primarily foreign‑‑worked in marketplaces or performed domestic duties; many of these children were reportedly the victims of child trafficking. Such children generally did not attend school, received only limited medical attention, and often were exploited by employers or foster families.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 6 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children are also reported to be trafficked into Gabon from Equatorial Guinea.  Children who are purchased in Benin, Togo and Mali for as little as USD 14 may be sold to commercial farms in Gabon and Côte d’Ivoire for up to USD 340.  A social practice known as “placement” is also reported to be a problem.  According to tradition, poor families send their children to more affluent homes where the children receive an education in exchange for performing various services for their host families.  However, the practice has degenerated, and placed children are allegedly trafficked or subjected to commercial sexual exploitation

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