Monday, January 21, 2008

Ethiopia is a Source Country for Human Trafficking and Sex Exploitation

Source: Department of State
Report: State Department Trafficking in Persons Report June 2006

*The following are excerpts from the aforementioned article: 

Ethiopia is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Children and adults are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude and, to a lesser extent, for commercial sexual exploitation and labor, such as street vending. Small numbers of men are trafficked to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States for low-skilled forced labor. Ethiopian women are trafficked to the Middle East, particularly Lebanon, for domestic servitude; other destinations include Egypt, South Africa, Sudan, and Djibouti. Small percentages of these women are trafficked for sexual exploitation. Transit countries for trafficked Ethiopians reportedly include Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan. The Government of Ethiopia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. While Ethiopia's ongoing efforts to educate migrating workers about the dangers of trafficking and detect cases of child trafficking within the country are notable, its small number of prosecutions compared to the large number of investigations is a continued cause for concern. To further its anti-trafficking efforts, the government should improve the investigative capacity of police and enhance judicial understanding of trafficking to enable a greater number of successful prosecutions, and launch a broad anti-trafficking public awareness and education campaign.

The Ethiopian Government's law enforcement response to trafficking improved in 2005. In May, the government enacted a new penal code with improved anti-trafficking language that criminalizes most forms of human trafficking. Working with a local NGO, police monitored five key towns for possible trafficking. At security checkpoints throughout the country, the Immigration Authority verified the legality of migrants' travel documents. Border guards on the Bossasso route reported mass movements toward Somalia; the guards stopped travelers without proper documentation and issued warnings about the dangers of irregular migration. In 2005, 520 cases of child trafficking were reported, eight of which remained under investigation at year's end. Police referred 38 cases to the prosecutor's office: by the close of the reporting period, two resulted in conviction, 18 were pending prosecution, and 18 were closed for lack of evidence or because the defendant absconded. The low conviction rate for trafficking cases serves as a poor deterrent to traffickers, who can operate with relative impunity. In late 2005, police officers assigned to anti-child trafficking units in Addis Ababa were transferred from those duties to deal with recurring street disturbances. The Ministry of Labor (MOLSA), in cooperation with the Airport Immigration Authority, prevented an unspecified number of labor migrants without valid employment contracts from departing for the Middle East.

The government provided limited assistance to trafficking victims over the last year. The child protection unit in each Addis Ababa police station collected information on rescued trafficked children to facilitate their return to their families; it also referred 262 girls to an NGO for care pending transport home. The Ethiopian consulates in Beirut and Dubai dispensed limited legal advice to trafficking victims and provided temporary shelter for victims awaiting funds to pay off abusive employers for their freedom. In 2005, MOSLA investigated 52 complaints filed by returnees and families of aggrieved employees by verifying employment agencies' reporting through the Ethiopian missions abroad: 45 complaints were determined to be unfounded, four were amicably resolved, and legal proceedings for contract violations began against labor migration agencies in three cases. Government authorities made no effort to interview returned victims about their experiences in the Middle East.

Ethiopia's efforts to prevent international trafficking increased, but measures to increase awareness of internal trafficking were lacking. During the past year, the government tightened its implementation of foreign employment regulations, resulting in a trafficking route shift; more Ethiopian victims are reportedly transiting neighboring countries rather than flying directly out of the main airport. The Immigration Authority continued to provide printed information on trafficking to those applying for passports and required applicants to view a video on the dangers of human trafficking. MOLSA supervised the work of legal labor migration agencies through surprise inspections and required biweekly reports. In 2005, the number of registered agencies rose from five to 17, facilitating the travel of 6,200 workers to six countries. MOSLA, in conjunction with Ethiopian consulates in the Middle East, approved foreign labor contracts for an additional 1,345 workers; many Ethiopians still continue to seek international employment through black market channels. The inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee convened regularly, but its activities were not disclosed. The counter-trafficking task force, chaired by the

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*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

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