Prosecution of human trafficking in Cote d’ Ivoire (TIP 2023)

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The government maintained mixed law enforcement efforts.  Law No. 2016-111 on the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of five to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 5 million to 10 million West African CFA francs (FCFA) ($8,130-$16,265) for adult trafficking and 20 to 30 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 10 million to 50 million FCFA ($16,265-$81,320) for child trafficking.  These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.  The 2010 Child Trafficking and Child Labor Law was also used to prosecute child trafficking, and it criminalized child sex trafficking and labor trafficking with 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 5 million to 20 million FCFA ($8,130-$32,530).  The government used penal code provisions on illegal mining and “pimping” to prosecute trafficking cases.  The penal code prescribed penalties of one to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 1 million to 10 million FCFA ($1,625-$16,265) for “pimping” and penalties of two to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 50 million to 100 million FCFA ($81,320-$162,640) for illegal mining.  These penalties were significantly lower than those prescribed under the anti-trafficking law.

The government reported initiating 10 and continuing 13 investigations, compared with initiating 11 and continuing three investigations during the previous reporting period.  The government initiated prosecution of 25 alleged traffickers (23 for sex trafficking and “pimping,” one for labor trafficking, and one for an unknown form of trafficking).  This was a significant decrease compared with initiating prosecution of 83 alleged traffickers and continuing prosecution of six alleged traffickers during the previous reporting period.  Courts convicted 19 traffickers, including 11 traffickers convicted under the 2016 anti-trafficking law and eight sex traffickers under the penal code, and upheld four trafficking convictions on appeal.  This compared with 43 traffickers convicted during the previous reporting period and 12 traffickers in 2020.  Judges sentenced six traffickers, convicted under the 2016 law, to between 10 years’ and 20 years’ imprisonment and four traffickers, convicted under the penal code, to between one month and three months’ imprisonment; the government did not report sentencing information for the remaining nine convicted traffickers.

The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking crimes; however, official corruption and complicity in trafficking crimes remained concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action.  During the previous reporting period, observers alleged low-ranking police on the borders with Mali and Ghana facilitated migrant smuggling, including potential trafficking cases, and organized a system to collect bribes at checkpoints and along bus routes.  In 2018, five gendarmes and two military firefighters allegedly abducted a trafficking victim from an NGO shelter; a military tribunal sentenced four of the gendarmes and the military firefighters to 50 days in military jail in August 2019 as an administrative sanction for unbecoming conduct.  Following the 50-day detention, the officials returned to their military duties.  A subsequent prosecution of four of the gendarmes and one of the military firefighters for kidnapping of a minor, forced confinement, and attempted rape involving the abducted child victim remained pending before a military investigative judge.  Although not explicitly reported as human trafficking, an international organization reported there was one open allegation, submitted in 2021, of alleged sexual exploitation with trafficking indicators by Ivoirian peacekeepers deployed to the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti between 2010 and 2012.  The government did not report accountability measures taken, if any, for the open case by the end of the reporting period.

The Sub-Directorate in the Fight against Trafficking and Child Labor (SDLTEDJ) bore primary responsibility for enforcing anti-trafficking laws and investigating cases throughout the country; it operated specialized anti-child labor and child trafficking police units in six cities.  The gendarmes, under the Ministry of Defense, were responsible for investigations in rural areas where the SDLTEDJ was not present.  The Brigade Mondaine was responsible for investigating sex trafficking; however, resource constraints limited investigations to Abidjan and a few regional precincts.  The Transnational Organized Crime Unit operated a specialized human trafficking department which had jurisdiction over transnational trafficking cases.  However, the law enforcement units lacked coordination, and no unit had a clear responsibility for internal adult labor trafficking cases.  Limited funding and resources significantly hindered law enforcement’s ability to identify and investigate human trafficking cases.  The government did not report operationalizing prosecutorial teams within the appeals courts focused on combating human trafficking in four cities; proposed in 2021, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights intended these to accelerate the procedural process and support trafficking prosecutions.  International organizations, with some government support, trained judicial and law enforcement officials on anti-trafficking legal frameworks and investigative techniques.  Observers reported law enforcement and judicial officials needed additional anti-trafficking training.  Some judges and prosecutors remained unaware of the 2016 law and continued to use the 2010 law and illegal mining and “pimping” statutes to prosecute trafficking cases, which carried lesser penalties.  The government did not report collaborating with foreign counterparts on law enforcement activities.

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from 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – U.S. Department of State

2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States Department of State

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