Cablegate: Seventh Annual Trafficking in Persons (Tip) Report

DE RUEHFN #0165/01 0681200
P 081741Z MAR 07 ZDS







E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 2006 STATE 202745

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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Sierra Leone continues to make progress as
it recovers from a devastating decade-long civil war that
destroyed much of the country's infrastructure. In a little
over a year, the level of awareness of trafficking in persons
has risen considerably. However, trafficking remains a
serious concern, and despite considerable sensitization on
this topic, a large percentage of the population remains
vulnerable to trafficking. Lack of resources continues to
inhibit the Government's ability to accurately assess the
magnitude of the problem, provide victims services, and train
law enforcement officials.

Sierra Leone's trafficking problem generally appears to be
internal. However, Sierra Leone is also a source country for
international trafficking, and there is evidence that Sierra
Leone is a country of transit and destination.

Following the passage of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act
in August 2005, a task force was formed that has met
regularly to develop a three-year Action Plan on TIP, which
it completed in November 2006. The Plan calls for
establishing a Tip Task Force Secretariat that will
facilitate research, create an inventory of resources and
services, and establish linkages between TIP stakeholders to
increase Government and civil society's capacity to monitor,
combat, prosecute, and convict violators. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Responses below are keyed to questions in reftel.
Sources include: Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and
Children's Affairs (MOSWGCA); Ministry of Labor; Department
of Immigration; Sierra Leone Police; the Director of Public
Prosecutions; UNICEF; FAITH Consortium; Attorney General's
Office; Office of National Security; IOM,. Approximately 80
hours were spent preparing this report by FSO (FP-03) and
approximately ten hours by FSN assistant (FSN-10). The
Ambassador (FA-MC) spent approximately two hours on the
report and the DCM (FO-01) spent approximately three hours.

3. (U) Embassy POC for TIP issues is Martin Dale,
Political/Economic Officer. Tel: 232-22-515-000 x5120, Fax:
232-22-515-355, E-mail:

4. (SBU) Begin TIP report:


A. In Western Africa, Sierra Leone is slowly emerging as a
relatively stable post-conflict success story. Nonetheless,
there remain considerable problems, mostly the result of the
devastation inflicted during Sierra Leone's 11-year civil
war. Sierra Leone continues to suffer from a dysfunctional
infrastructure, endemic corruption, continuing human rights
problems, and poor governance. As a result, much of the
population remains vulnerable to trafficking. A 2005
UNICEF-funded trafficking assessment of Sierra Leone
highlighted this fact: "war results in an amplification of
factors that contribute to and cause trafficking, including
poverty, social vulnerability, decimated government
infrastructure and services, impunity, corruption, and social
dislocation (refugees and IDPs)."

Children and youth, defined as 15 - 35 years in age,
constitute approximately two-thirds of the country's

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population of 5 million, and only 61 percent of children aged
0-16 live with their parents. Traumatic experiences during
the war, shattered extended family and social structures, and
extreme poverty make it much more difficult to protect

The Constitution and national laws afford little protection
for women and children. Many of the country's laws concerning
marriage and inheritance are discriminatory, and abuse of
women, particularly domestic and sexual assault, is frequent.
However, there is pending legislation before Parliament,
including a Child Rights Bill to bring Sierra Leone laws in
line with the Convention on the Rights of Children and three
draft bills ) Domestic Violence, Registration of Customary
Marriages and Divorce, and Devolution of Estates - that will
address many of the current deficiencies in the law.

Migration in Sierra Leone is a common social norm driven by
the dire economic situation in the country. To illustrate,
Sierra Leone ranks second to last out of 177 countries on the
Human Development Index. Within this context, trafficking is
more difficult to identify and combat. For example, child
fostering - that is, children placed with wealthier relatives
- is commonplace in the country. Although many children
benefit from such arrangements and receive education and
assistance otherwise not available, it is a system that is
vulnerable to abuse and can lead to trafficking.


B. Sierra Leone's trafficking problem generally appears to be
internal. Sierra Leone is also a source country for
international trafficking, and there is evidence that Sierra
Leone is a country of transit and destination. Lack of
resources continues to hinder the Government's ability to
accurately assess the magnitude of the problem. However,
widespread sensitization programs by the Government, media
and civil society have significantly increased the public's
awareness of trafficking and the negative impact it has on
society. Sensitization has also led to increased reporting of
trafficking cases by the public.

Law enforcement agencies, including the Sierra Leone Police
(SLP), Immigration, and Office of National Security (ONS),
are slowly gaining a better understanding of trafficking and
what is driving it. The SLP has conducted a number of
investigations and continues to build its capacity to combat
trafficking. Between January 2006 and February 2007, the SLP
investigated 12 reported cases of trafficking. Three of the
cases were referred to the Director of the Public Prosecutor
for legal advice, one case is still under police
investigation, in seven cases the accused were charged with
trafficking and are in court, and there was one conviction.

Despite these minor advances, there remain poor coordination
and information sharing between the ministries responsible
for trafficking issues and the SLP. There are also
communication and logistical challenges between police
headquarters and police ranks in the provinces. The SLP also
remains woefully under-funded. Often, traffickers go
unpunished because they are either not reported or not

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There are no government service providers that specifically
target trafficking victims. However, civil society has begun
to fill this void. In February 2007, the International Office
for Migration (IOM), with funding from PRM, opened the first
trafficking victims, shelter in the country. The facility
will accommodate 22 victims and provide reintegration
services including counseling and education for one month
before returning victims to their families. IOM is
coordinating its victims, assistance activities with the TIP
Task Force.

As part of the recently approved TIP 2007 Action Plan, the
TIP Task Force will create a TIP Task Force Secretariat that
will monitor all TIP-related activities and serve as the
clearinghouse for all TIP stakeholders.

Monitoring of trafficking cases remains poor due to limited
resources. The Sierra Leone Police (SLP) Family Support Unit
(FSU) maintains a database for a number of offenses,
including rape, abduction, and child stealing. The FSU has
added fields for trafficking (domestic and international, for
both labor and sexual servitude) starting in 2006; however,
statistics are not reliable, and sensitization of this issue
must continue to promote a greater understanding nationwide
of trafficking and its indications.

Following the passage of the Anti-Trafficking Act in 2005,
Government and non-government organizations have actively
participated in the TIP Task Force and are placing a greater
emphasis on trafficking. However, there still remains some
confusion about what constitutes trafficking as reported
cases often turn out to be human smuggling cases. Just like
sexual assault and domestic violence, however, reports of
trafficking are increasing from year to year, and the
Government's ability to identify and properly respond to
trafficking cases is increasing correspondingly.

All sources on trafficking state that children appear to be
more at risk of being trafficked than adults. However, it is
possible that there is a greater willingness of Sierra
Leoneans to report crimes against children vice adults.

Although there are no accurate statistics to quantify the
extent of the problem, all indications are that women and
children continued to be trafficked from the provinces to
towns and diamond mining areas for prostitution and children
are trafficked from rural areas into the city and mining
areas for forced labor, including domestic work, petty
trading, begging, and petty crime. Trafficking may also occur
in the fishing and agriculture industries as well as in
connection with customary practices such as forced and
arranged marriages and ritual sacrifice. Former child
soldiers, some of whom remain with their former commanders,
are at risk of being recruited in other regional conflicts.

Persons have been trafficked out of Sierra Leone to
destinations in West Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. In
2006, France and Spain identified victims of trafficking from
Sierra Leone. Other Sierra Leonean trafficking victims have
been reported in Germany, Lebanon, Liberia, Guinea, Ivory
Coast, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, and the Gambia. Other
suspected destination countries include Austria, Belgium,
Ireland, Italy, and Israel, mostly because Sierra Leonean
unaccompanied minors and/or illegal immigrants were
identified there.

There is evidence showing that Sierra Leone is a transit
country for trafficking. The SLP reported that it uncovered a
trafficking ring involving an Indian business man in Sierra

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Leone who was trafficking Indian nationals from Nigeria
through Sierra to Guinea. The SLP said that it had stopped
over 100 Indian nationals and arrested 17. (COMMENT: Due to
the sensitivity of this ongoing investigation, Post requests
that this information not be included in the report. We
provided this information as evidence that Sierra Leone is a
transit point and to show that the SLP takes the issue
seriously and is making inroads against criminal
organizations. END COMMENT) Sierra Leone's inability to
monitor its borders, coupled with the ease with which
fraudulent identification documents can be obtained, make the
country a potential transit point.

There have been no documented incidents of Sierra Leone as a
destination country for trafficking; however, foreign
national sex workers and refugees living in Sierra Leone may
be victims of trafficking. Also, ethnic links with other
countries (e.g., Guinea, Lebanon, China) provide an
opportunity for Sierra Leone to be used as a destination

Relatives or family friends reportedly traffic children to
Freetown with false promises to parents that the children
will be sent to school. These friends and relatives put
children to work for in the home, where they can also be
sexually exploited, or placed on the street to engage in
petty trading or prostitution. Sometimes children remain on
the street, because they are afraid to return to their
relative's house where they are often punished and beaten.

There is no law against prostitution, and it is widespread in
Sierra Leone. Many women and girls enter the commercial sex
industry independently, often due to economic pressures, and
are not trafficked; however, there continue to be allegations
that female pimps (kaklat) or relatives recruited girls for
prostitution directly from villages. Some women who engage in
prostitution may be doing so "voluntarily" to escape from
other trafficking situations, such as early marriage or
domestic servitude.

C. Sierra Leone continues to recover from an 11-year civil
war during which the country was a failed state. Sierra Leone
has occupied the bottom ranks of the UN Human Development
Index since 1998. There is an overwhelming lack of capacity
in the Government, and many competing critical needs. The
Government is effectively bankrupt, with donors providing 60
percent of the country's budget. Corruption is entrenched.
The police, judiciary, and social welfare institutions are
critically understaffed, have very limited budgets, and have
trouble meeting their basic mandates. Knowledge of TIP is
gradually increasing at the government level, however,
finding resources and building capacity to deal with the
problem will remain a serious impediment well into the future.

There is political will from the highest levels of government
to combat trafficking in persons, but progress is hampered by
lack of resources and education on the issue, even among the
political elite. The SLP and Ministry of Social Welfare
(MOSW) lack sufficient funding to carry out even their basic
mandates. For example, there is no government mechanism in
place to train or inform police on new criminal legislation,
so NGOs have been the driving force behind raising the SLP's
awareness of the new Anti-Trafficking Act. According to the
2007 National Action Plan, GTIP funding to UNICEF will pay
for training of 200 GOSL officials, including judges, public
prosecutors, police, immigration and customs officers, and
border guards. No government victim services exist, and
neither the FSU nor the MOSW have shelter facilities.

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D. The TIP Task Force, as mandated by the Anti-Trafficking
Act passed in 2005, is designated to systematically monitor
anti-trafficking efforts (prosecution, prevention, victim
protection) The TIP Task Force, of which PolOff is a member,
meets the second and fourth week of each month. Member
organizations are the Ministries of Social Welfare;
Education, Science and Technology; Youth and Sport; Labor;
Information; Local Government; Health; Foreign Affairs;
Justice; Internal Affairs; Culture and Tourism; SLP; and
Immigration. Other members include the U.S. Embassy, Search
for Common Ground/Talking Drums Studio, The Women's Forum,
the Ombudsman; The National Forum for Human Rights, the FAITH
project of World Relief, UNICEF, and IOM. Member
organizations have begun reporting TIP cases brought to their
attention. However, coordination remains poor between law
enforcement agencies, ministries and civil society members,
and there is no mechanism in place to give assessments of
anti-trafficking efforts. Information is not made public,
however, the Government does make trafficking-related
information available to international organizations and
others on request.


A. The Government acknowledges that trafficking is a problem
in the country.

President Kabbah signed the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act
in August 2005. The Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and
Children's Affairs and the Attorney General convened the
first Inter-Ministerial Committee on Trafficking in February

The TIP Task Force meets regularly to discuss
anti-trafficking activities and cases.

B. The Ministry of Social Welfare and Sierra Leone Police
(SLP) take the lead in anti-trafficking efforts in Sierra
Leone, and the Ministry of Justice co-chairs the
Inter-Ministerial Committee on Trafficking and the TIP Task
Force with MOSW. The Inter-Ministerial Committee also
includes the Ministries of Education, Internal Affairs,
Information, Labor, Health, Foreign Affairs, Local
Government, Youth, and Tourism. The TIP Task Force includes
representatives from all ministries in the Inter-Ministerial
Committee as well as the Principal Immigration Officer, the
Commissioner of Police in charge of Crime Services, the
Ombudsman, and representatives from NGOs.

C. Government officials, particularly from the police and
Parliament, have been vocal public advocates of increasing
trafficking awareness. The SLP periodically uses allotted
radio slots to discuss the dangers of trafficking, and a
radio interview with a representative of the Parliamentary
Human Rights Committee has been periodically rebroadcast.
Government officials from the SLP and MOSW frequently attend
NGO-sponsored awareness raising sessions throughout the
country. Such sessions focus on warning potential trafficking
victims and their families about the dangers of migration to
urban areas or out of the country without full information.

D. The Government supports other programs to prevent
trafficking and has focused largely on education, which is in
line with its Poverty Reduction Strategic Plan (PRSP). In
July, the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's
Affairs (MOSWGC) attended the Abuja Inter-Ministerial
Conference where 24 West and Central African countries,

FREETOWN 00000165 006.2 OF 010

including Sierra Leone, adopted and signed a joint Economic
Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Plan of Action and
Multilateral Cooperation Agreement on combating TIP. In
August, the MOSWGC held a two-day training workshop conducted
by the Regional Advisor of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons
Unit of ECOWAS Welfare

In September, the Government also supported the launch of a
project entitled, &Raising Awareness about Trafficking in
Persons to Reduce Its Prevalence.8 Funded by TIP money,
Pampana Communications, a community theatre group, premiered
a play titled, &Mortal Man Nor To For Sell8 (A Human Being
is not for Sale) to raise national awareness about the
dangers of human trafficking.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs
periodically travels upcountry to educate women on
trafficking, women's empowerment, and sustainable development.

There are a number of committees and commissions established
to deal with the wide spectrum of serious human rights abuses
that occurred as a result of the country's 11-year civil war
whose activities could play a role in the fight against
trafficking. These bodies include the Coordinating Committee
for the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, the
Sexual Violence Committee, Child Welfare Committee, National
Commission on Child Labor, and the National Commission for
War Affected Children. In December 2006, the Government
appointed the Human Rights Commission, which will be
responsible for monitoring the implementation of Sierra
Leone's Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) recommendations.
However, most of these bodies are generally marginalized due
to inadequate resources.

F. Coordination between the Government, NGOs, and
international organizations on trafficking issues has
increased significantly through the TIP Task Force. The
relationship between Government officials and civil society
members is very positive and has produced tangible results,
such as the 2007 TIP Action Plan. However, there is much room
for improvement. Improved coordination will make the TIP Task
Force more effective.

G. See paragraph F.

H. The TIP Task Force, as mandated by the Anti-Human
Trafficking Act of 2005, has been in operation since February
2006 and meets regularly. Chaired by representatives from the
Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Social Welfare, the Task
Force has developed a comprehensive three-year National
Action Plan on TIP (2008-2010). The Plan calls for the
formation of a TIP Task Force Secretariat that will
coordinate all anti-trafficking activities in Sierra Leone.
Components of the plan include research, assessment,
prevention, protection, prosecution, and monitoring and
evaluation. The Plan is funded by a combination of sources;
the Government, the $100,000 GTIP grant to UNICEF, and PRM's
$500,000 grant to IOM.

Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers

A. President Kabbah signed the Anti-Human Trafficking Act in
August 2005. The law prohibits trafficking for labor, sexual
exploitation, illicit removal of human organs, and
exploitation during armed conflicts. The law covers both
internal and external trafficking and is consistent with the

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Palermo Protocol.

B. Convicted traffickers face up to ten years of
imprisonment, fines of 50 million leones (approximately
$17,000), and victim restitution costs.

C. Penalties are the same for trafficking for labor and
sexual exploitation.

D. Under the Offenses Against the Person Act of 1861, rape of
a person over the age of 16 carries a potential penalty of
life imprisonment, which is more severe than the penalty for
sex trafficking.

E. No law specifically prohibits prostitution, but there are
laws against operating brothels and procuring a female by
threats or coercion for the purpose of prostitution.
Government officials have become more vigilant in closing
down brothels. Prostitutes are sometimes arrested for other
crimes, including loitering.

F. The SLP has conducted a number of investigations and
continues to build its capacity to combat trafficking.
Between January 2006 and February 2007, the SLP investigated
12 reported cases of trafficking. Three of the cases were
referred to the Director of the Public Prosecutor for legal
advice, one case is still under police investigation, in
seven cases the accused were charged with trafficking and are
in court, and there was one conviction.

G. There are networks in Sierra Leone for adoption fraud, and
some evidence of possible trafficking networks. Many
traffickers are relatives of the victims, and victims
initially leave with the consent of family. There is no
evidence that profits from trafficking were channeled to
armed or terrorists, judges or banks.

H. The Government actively investigates trafficking and uses
undercover operations to assist in investigations.

I. The Government has not provided any specialized training
for government officials in trafficking, but government
officials are encouraged to attend NGO-facilitated
trafficking training. The TIP Action Plan calls for the
training of 200 GOSL officials, including judges, public
prosecutors, police, immigration and customs officers, and
border guards.

J. There are no current cooperative international
investigations of trafficking, but the Government has sought
cooperation with other governments to pursue past trafficking

K. The Extradition Act of 1974 allows for extradition of
persons subject to crimes committed and the country of the
offense, but there have been no requests to extradite a
suspect for trafficking. The Extradition Act allows for the
extradition of Sierra Leone nationals to other countries for

L. There are no known instances of GOSL authorities
facilitating or condoning trafficking; however, prevalent
social attitudes and lack of government capacity and
awareness of trafficking mean that barriers to internal
trafficking are low. Low-level government officials who forge
documents such as birth, marriage, and death certificates
rarely suffer punishment, but there is no proof that these
forged documents are used to facilitate trafficking.

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M. Not applicable. See paragraph K above.

N. Sierra Leone has not been identified as having a child sex
tourism problem. The 1974 Extradition Act provides for the
extradition of suspects for sexual offenses.

O. Sierra Leone has signed and ratified ILO Convention 29 and
105 on forced or compulsory labor and the Optional Protocol
to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of
children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Sierra Leone signed The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and
Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children,
supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational
Organized Crime in November 2001. The Parliament has not yet
ratified it.

Sierra Leone signed ILO Convention 182 concerning the
prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the
worst forms of child labor in June 1999. The Parliament has
not yet ratified it.


A. The Government's own capacity to care for victims of any
kind is extremely limited and there are no government
shelters for trafficking victims. NGOs and international
organizations provide some services to victims. In February
2007, the International Office for Migration (IOM), with
funding from PRM, opened the first trafficking victims,
shelter in the country. The facility will accommodate 22
victims and provide reintegration services including
counseling and education for one month before returning
victims to their families. IOM is coordinating its victims,
assistance activities with the TIP Task Force.

B. The Government supports efforts of NGOs and IOs in the
form of hosting meetings. Most government capacity to deal
with the trafficking problem, however, comes from NGOs and

C. The Police refer victims to the Ministry of Social Welfare
for follow-on placement with NGOs. The Ministry of Social
Welfare tries to place social workers in FSUs nationwide to
provide counseling and assistance to victims; however, the
Ministry has difficulty retaining them. Once trained,
according the Minister, a number of social workers left to
work for NGOs.

The MOSW works with UNICEF and service provider NGOs to form
a child protection network for street children. There is a
pilot program of bail homes operating in Kenema and Makeni
where children who are alleged nonviolent offenders can stay
in temporary foster care if their families do not post bail
for them.

D. In the case of the Indian nationals being trafficked to
Guinea, it is unclear if the individuals arrested were
trafficking victims or smuggled individuals. Otherwise, there
are no known cases in which the rights of a known trafficking
victim were not respected.

E. Sierra Leone's justice sector was destroyed by the 11-
year civil war. A new UK-sponsored Justice Sector Development
Project began in 2005 to rebuild it. The justice system is
currently characterized by delays and corruption, and
trafficking victims would have a difficult time - like other

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Sierra Leoneans - in obtaining justice through the current
legal system.

Social factors often prevent women and children victims of
sexual and other violence from obtaining justice in the court
system. Rape cases, for instance, are often settled out of
court by male family members. Such social factors may also
serve as a barrier for trafficking victims to access justice.

The new Anti-Trafficking Act provides for victim restitution
as a penalty for trafficking.

F. There are no witness protection programs available.
However, there are several programs implemented in
partnership with international organizations and NGOs that
provide assistance and protection services to victims of
violence and sexual exploitation.

G. The TIP Action Plan has components that include provisions
for training that will target specialized training for
government officials to assist with the recognition of
trafficking cases. There are also protection components that
will train victims service providers to better treat children

Due to limited resources, the Government does not provide
training on protections and assistance to its embassies and
consulates in foreign countries that are destination or
transit countries, nor does it encourage its embassies and
consulates to develop ongoing relationships with NGOs that
serve trafficked victims.

H. No, the Government does not provide assistance to its
repatriated nationals who are trafficking victims.

I. International organizations provide child protection,
trafficking awareness training, vocational training, and
counseling services. They include UNICEF, UNHCR, ICRC, IOM;
and NGOs such as the FAITH Consortium, International Rescue
Committee, Save the Children, Defense for Children
International, CARITAS, COOPI, Human Rights Youth Coalition,
Don Bosco Fambul, Women in Crisis Movement, Christian in
Action Development Agency, FAWE, and GOAL SL.

TIP Hero

For a second year, Post nominates Ms. Kadi Fakondo, an
Assistant Commissioner in the Sierra Leone Police. Fakondo
continues to play a vital role in raising awareness of Sierra
Leoneans about the nature of trafficking in persons.

When Fakondo was the Local Unit Commander of the police
station in Kissy in 2000, she started the first Family
Support Unit (FSU) - a special police division to help women
and children deal with rape and domestic violence. With
Fakondo at the helm, Family Support Units eventually
multiplied and are now in place countrywide. With the
expansion, reporting of sexual violence has steadily

After attending her first trafficking seminar, Fakondo became
an avid promoter of efforts to combat trafficking. A dynamic,
charismatic, and well-respected speaker, Fakondo frequently
voices her concerns and convictions about trafficking over
the radio, at seminars, at interagency meetings, and with her
own staff. Fakondo was the driving force behind the ad hoc
TIP Task Force that formed after the passage of critical TIP

FREETOWN 00000165 010.2 OF 010

legislation in 2005. She found a place for the Task Force to
meet, provided a secretary to take minutes and keep
attendance, and urged key stakeholders to attend meetings.

Much of what the TIP Task Force has accomplished this year
can be attributed to Fakondo,s drive and perseverance to
combat this very difficult and complex issue in Sierra Leone
and educate the public about the menace of trafficking.


© Scoop Media

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