MALI (TIER 2 Watch List) [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]
Mali is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and, to a lesser extent, commercial sexual exploitation. In Mali, victims are trafficked from rural areas to urban centers, agricultural zones, and artisanal mining sites. Victims are also trafficked between Mali and other West African countries. Some notable destination countries for Malian child victims are Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria. Women and girls are trafficked primarily for domestic servitude and, to a lesser extent, forced prostitution, while boys are trafficked for forced begging and forced labor in gold mines and agricultural settings both within Mali and to neighboring countries. Reports in the last year indicate that Malian boys and girls are trafficked to Senegal and Guinea for labor in gold mines and to Cote d’Ivoire for forced labor on cotton and cocoa farms. Boys from Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and other countries are trafficked by Koranic masters within Mali and across borders for forced begging and other forms of forced labor. Adult men and boys, primarily of Songhai ethnicity, are subjected to the longstanding practice of debt bondage in the salt mines of Taoudenni in northern Mali. Some members of Mali’s black Tamachek community are subjected to traditional slavery-related practices rooted in hereditary master-slave relationships.
The Government of Mali 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 overall significant efforts, the government failed to show evidence of progress in prosecuting and punishing trafficking offenders, and, therefore, Mali is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The government arrested three alleged child traffickers during the year; they were released pending trial dates which have not been set. The government took some steps to protect victims and raise public awareness of trafficking.
Recommendations for Mali: Investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, including cases of traditional slavery, and convict and punish trafficking offenders using existing laws; criminalize the trafficking of adults for all purposes, including slavery; develop a system for collecting data on trafficking crimes and the number of victims identified and referred by government authorities to service providers for care; and increase efforts to raise public awareness about trafficking and traditional hereditary servitude.
During the reporting period, the government arrested three suspected traffickers though it failed to prosecute any trafficking offenders. A trial date has not yet been set for three individuals arrested in March 2008 for allegedly trafficking two Malian and 24 Guinean children to Mali from Guinea; they were released in June pending trial. Six cases of traditional enslavement are pending in Malian courts. Judicial authorities have taken no action on any of these cases. One of these cases involves a black Tamachek child taken from his parents in Kidal in September 2007 by an individual claiming traditional ownership rights over the child. The child remains in the custody of this traditional master.
The government continued to provide in-kind assistance, such as land and buildings to NGOs providing services to trafficking victims. These local NGOs and international organizations collaborated to repatriate the 41 non-Malian child trafficking victims discovered during the year. Most cases of trafficking identified by NGOs are reported to the government, and an official from the Ministry for the Advancement of Women, Children and the Family coordinates the process of repatriation with a counterpart in the government of the victim’s country of origin. In February 2009 government officials in the towns of Gourma-Rharous and Bambara-Maounde facilitated the rescue of a woman held as a hereditary slave for 14 years. Government authorities also facilitated the rescue of the former slave’s eight year old son.
There were no reports in the past year of the government interviewing victims to gather evidence for investigation and prosecution of their traffickers or, in the case of slavery allegations, their alleged masters. Mali does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution. Victims are not inappropriately incarcerated or fined for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.