US Says All African Countries Fail to Meet Minimum Standard in Preventing Human Traffick

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In the just released U.S. State Department 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, 20 sub-Saharan African countries among others world-wide have been placed on the Tier 2 Watchlist as it relates to human trafficking, prosecution, protection and prevention.  
According to the global report, all countries listed on the Tier 2 Watchlist are those whose governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA’s) minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards AND: 
a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing; 
b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or 
c) The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year. 
The TVPA is a U.S. federal law enacted and amended in 2000 "provides the tools to combat trafficking in persons both worldwide and domestically." 
Countries listed on the Tier 2 Watch List include: 
Burkina Faso 
Cape Verde 
Sierra Leone 
Zambia and 
17 sub-Saharan African countries were designated as Tier 2 and comprise Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. They include: 
Cote d'Ivoire 
Sierra Leone 
South Africa 
Tunisia and 
No African country made Tier 1 which comprise countries whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards. 

On Nigeria, the U.S. State Department charged that " The Government of Nigeria does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated significant efforts during the reporting period by investigating, prosecuting, and convicting traffickers; conducting anti-trafficking training for law enforcement officials; and repatriating some Nigerian trafficking victims identified abroad. However, the government did not demonstrate increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. During the reporting period, credible observers reported for the first time that some elements of the Nigerian security forces (NSF) used children as young as 12 years old in support roles, and NSF continued to detain and arrest children for alleged association with Boko Haram, some of whom may have been forcibly recruited. The Nigerian military also conducted on the ground coordination with the Civilian Joint Taskforce (CJTF), non-governmental self-defense militias that continued to recruit and use children—possibly unwillingly and mostly in support roles—and at least one of which received state government funding. Government officials—including military, police, and federal and state officials—were involved in widespread sexual exploitation of Borno State women and girls displaced by Boko Haram, at times forcing women and girls in IDP camps to provide commercial sex acts in exchange for food. 
On the issue of prosecution, the U.S. State Department said the Nigerian government maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, but there were increased reports of government complicity in human trafficking. 
Recommendations advised that Nigeria "Cease NSF elements’ use of children; cease provision of financial and in-kind support to armed groups that recruit and use children; vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers—including complicit officials, labor traffickers, and those who recruit and use child soldiers—and impose sufficiently stringent sentences; cease detaining former confirmed or suspected child soldiers, and ensure such children are not penalized for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; implement programs for the disarmament, 
demobilization, and reintegration of former child combatants that take into account the specific needs of child ex-combatants, and work with NSF and CJTF to implement these plans; increase funding for NAPTIP, particularly to provide adequate victim care; continue efforts to provide regular training to police and immigration officials to identify trafficking victims and screen for trafficking among vulnerable populations…" 

On Liberia, the report said, "The government provided emergency funding to temporarily shelter 25 potential child trafficking victims and prosecuted one trafficking case. However, the government did not demonstrate increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. The government did not provide training or basic resources to law enforcement or prosecutors to allow them to effectively identify, investigate, and prosecute trafficking cases; complicity and corruption continued to inhibit anti-trafficking law enforcement action; and for the third consecutive year, the government did not convict any traffickers…" 
In an effort to combat human trafficking, it was recommended to the Liberian government that it work to "Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including complicit officials and cases against Liberian nationals; provide training and resources to enable law enforcement, immigration officials, social workers, prosecutors, and magistrates to identify, investigate, and prosecute trafficking offenses; increase collaboration with NGOs to ensure all victims receive services and that NGOs refer all alleged trafficking cases to law enforcement for investigation; finalize and implement the national referral mechanism and train law enforcement and social service workers and sensitize NGOs on its implementation; enact legislation that prescribes sufficiently stringent penalties for adult trafficking and penalties for sex trafficking commensurate with the penalties for rape; expand victim services—particularly for male victims, victims outside the capital, and long-term care—through the provision of increased financial or in-kind support to NGOs; create measures to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as people in prostitution, and train officials on such procedures.." 

In exposing the trafficking profile of the Gambia, the U.S. State Department held that the Gambian government is making significant efforts to eliminate trafficking. do so. "The government made key achievements during the reporting period; therefore, The Gambia was upgraded to Tier 2 Watch List. These achievements included identifying and providing services to the first internal trafficking victims identified in four years; training law enforcement and border officials on identifying and referring cases of trafficking for investigation; and convicting and sentencing one trafficker to life imprisonment—its first reported conviction for a trafficking related offense in four years," the report said. 
Recommendations called on the Gambian government to "Vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers— including allegedly complicit government officials and child sex traffickers—with sufficiently stringent sentences; train law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute all types of trafficking, and ensure they have the resources to do so; develop standard procedures for identifying trafficking victims, including those among vulnerable populations, and referring them to care, train government officials on such procedures, and ensure no victims are detained before referred to services…" 

Sierra Leone 
On Sierra Leone, the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report said "…The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Sierra Leone remained on Tier 2." In recommended measures to combat trafficking, the report called on the Sierra Leonean government to " Increase efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers with sufficiently stringent sentences that include imprisonment; address procedural delays and judicial corruption so victims can participate in trials and judges cease dismissing cases against alleged traffickers; train prosecutors and judges to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases; amend the anti-trafficking law to increase penalties to be sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties for rape, and harmonize penalties for forced labor and forced prostitution across all laws…" 

South Africa 
According to the trafficking profile of South Africa in the report "...As reported over the past five years, South Africa is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. South African children are recruited from poor rural areas to urban centers, such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Bloemfontein, where girls are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude and boys are forced to work in street vending, food service, begging, criminal activities, and agriculture. Many children, including those with disabilities, are exploited in forced begging. 
On the prosecution of those accused of human trafficking, the report said, "the South African government maintained prosecution efforts, although official complicity in trafficking crimes remained a serious concern. The Prevention and Combating of Trafficking Persons Act (PACOTIPA) of 2013 criminalizes all forms of human trafficking. Articles 4-11 provide a range of penalties for trafficking in persons, ranging from fines, up to 100 million South African rand ($7.3 million), to life imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense. The penalties are sufficiently stringent; however, by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the prescribed punishment is not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape." 
It was recommended that the South African government Fund and increase efforts to fully implement PACOTIP and related regulations; continue to train law enforcement and social service officials on these provisions; amend the anti-trafficking law to ensure penalties are sufficiently stringent and do not allow for fines in lieu of prison time; increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including employers who use forced labor, under PACOTIP; investigate and prosecute officials suspected of complicity in trafficking crimes; ensure victims are issued the appropriate identification documents in order to receive protective services; train law enforcement and social service providers to use a victim centered approach when interacting with potential victims and recognize initial consent is irrelevant…" 
12 African countries were listed as Tier 3. According to the U.S. Government, these are Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so and include: 

Central African Republic 
Democratic Republic of Congo 
Equatorial Guinea 
Guinea Bissau 
South Sudan and 
Special Cases 
Two African countries, Libya and Somalia were cited as special cases in the report because their governments lack full control of the countries. 
In issuing the report, the U.S. Secretary of State Mr. Rex Tillerson said, "…Because human trafficking is global in scope, international partners are essential to success. That’s why the State Department will continue to establish positive partnerships with governments, civil society, law enforcement groups, and survivors to provide help for those who need our support…" 

By Emmanuel Abalo
Philadelphia, PA USA

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