Cablegate: Sierra Leone 2008 Tip Submission

DE RUEHFN #0102/01 0671327
R 071327Z MAR 08




DEPARTMENT FOR G/TIP - Veronica Zeitlin

E.O. 12958 N/A

1. (SBU) Sierra Leone lost momentum in the fight against trafficking
in 2007. The run-up to the national elections, and the elections
themselves in August and September, 2007, distracted many government
officials from their duties, including on the TIP front, and their
interest and attention was not regained in the months following the
transition of power due to many other pressing and basic needs.
While the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children's Affairs
and the Sierra Leone Police continue to act as the primary
interlocutors and government actors on TIP, supporting action from
other Ministries is rare to non-existent. This has placed a great
deal of pressure on international and non-governmental organizations
to implement activities that range from prevention to protection
services. Without continued donor support for such activities, they
are unsustainable.

In this environment, where government action is limited by the lack
of resources, capacity, and competing priorities, trafficking
continues to thrive. Cases continue to be identified throughout the
country, most of which involve children, and including both sex and
labor trafficking. The methods of trafficking have not changed, and
the incidence of the problem has yet to be quantified, but based on
caseloads and media reports, trafficking over the reporting period
at least maintained previous levels. With limited implementation of
the 2005 anti-trafficking law, general lack of police capacity, and
continued dire poverty, Sierra Leone remains a country ripe for both
internal and external trafficking. Without constant engagement and
support from outside entities, it is highly likely that the TIP
problem will worsen in the years to come. Post intends to increase
its advocacy on this issue at the highest levels of government.

2. (U) Embassy POC for TIP issues is Political/Economic Officer Amy
LeMar, Tel: 232-22-515-00 ext.5120. Approximately 45 hours were
spent preparing this report by FSO (FP-03), and approximately 10
hours by FSH assistant (FSN-10). The Ambassador (FA-MC) spent
approximately two hours on the report and the DCM (FO-01) spent
approximately three hours.

3. (SBU) Begin TIP Report:


A) Sierra Leone's trafficking problem generally appears to be
internal. Sierra Leone is also a source and destination country for
international trafficking. All sources on trafficking indicate that
children appear to be more at risk of being trafficked than adults.
However, it is possible that there is greater willingness of Sierra
Leoneans to report crimes against children versus adults. Also, the
assumption that children are more vulnerable might lead officials
and organizations to focus more exclusively on that population, and
be less aware or mindful of adult victims.

Although there are no accurate statistics quantifying the extent of
the problem, all indications suggest that women and children are
trafficked from the provinces to towns and 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 agricultural 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. Other Sierra Leonean
trafficking victims have been reported in France, Germany, Lebanon,
Liberia, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, 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

While there have been no documented cases of Sierra Leone as a
transit country, it is a plausible assumption. Sierra Leone has
porous, generally unmonitored borders. Fraudulent documentation is
easy to locate and inexpensive to purchase. Given the amount of
goods, both legal and contraband, that pass through Sierra Leone on
any given day, it is highly likely that victims from the sub-region
are part of this traffic through the country. In terms of
destination, a recent case involved five Nigerian victims, and there
have been cases of foreign nationals and refugees becoming victims
of trafficking due to their vulnerability. Also, ethnic links with
other countries (e.g., Guinea, Lebanon, China) provide an
opportunity for Sierra Leone to be used as a destination country.Q

FREETOWN 00000102 002 OF 006

B) Children and youth, defined as 15-35 years in age, constitute
approximately two-thirds of the country's population of 6 million,
and only 61 percent of children aged 0-16 live with their parents.
Traumatic experiences during the war, shattered extended family
networks and social structures, and extreme poverty make it much
more difficult to protect children.

Migration in Sierra Leone is a common social norm driven by the dire
economic situation in the country. To illustrate, Sierra Leone ranks
last out of 177 countries in the Human Development Index, including
last in terms of maternal/child health and also has the world's high
rate of infant mortality. Within this context, trafficking is more
difficult to combat, because impoverished parents face difficult
decisions with regards to how to care for and educate their
children. Cultural norms, as well, add to the complexity. Child
fostering, for example, by placing children with wealthier
relatives, is commonplace. While many children benefit from such
arrangements and receive education and assistance that they would
have lacked had they remained at home, it is a system that is
vulnerable to abuse and can lead to trafficking and slavery
(involuntary servitude).

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 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.

There is no law against prostitution and it is widespread in Sierra
Leone. Many women and girls enter into prostitution independently,
often due to economic pressures; however, there continue to be
allegations that female pimps (kaklat) or relatives recruit girls
for prostitution directly from villages. There is also a small cadre
of known pimps in the Freetown area, and reports of several brothels
in operation, but this is not a dominant characteristic of
prostitution in Sierra Leone. Some women who engage in prostitution
may be doing so out of desperation to escape from other exploitive
situations, such as early marriage or domestic servitude.

C) The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs
(MOSWGCA) and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) take the lead on
anti-trafficking efforts in Sierra Leone, and the Ministry of
Justice is the designated co-chair with the MOSWGCA of the
Inter-Ministerial Committee on Trafficking and the TIP Task Force.
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 civil society and international

D) Sierra Leone continues to recover from an 11-year old civil war
during which the country was a failed state. Sierra Leone has
occupied the bottom ranks of the Human Development Index since 1998.
There is an overwhelming lack of capacity in the Government of
Sierra Leone (GoSL), 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. While the Government identifies that TIP is an
issue, finding resources and building capacity to combat the problem
will remain a serious problem well into the future.

There is political will to combat trafficking in persons, though the
extent of the efforts put forth by the new administration under
President Ernest Bai Koroma remains to be seen. The SLP and MOSWGCA
lack sufficient funding to carry out their basic duties. Training of
staff on the anti-trafficking law or victim protection is done by
non-governmental and international organizations. No
government-funded victim services exist, and there are no
government-operated shelter services.

The TIP Task Force, as mandated by the Anti-Trafficking Act passed
in 2005, is designated to systematically monitor anti-trafficking
efforts (prosecution, prevention, and protection). The Task Force
met monthly for part of the year, but stopped regular meetings in
the run-up to the elections. In the past six months, it met every
other month. This is in direct contrast to previous years when the
Task Force met bi-monthly. Also, the Task Force composition has
gradually changed since its inception. While the anti-trafficking
law directly identifies the Ministries to be involved, very few send
representatives to the meetings. The participant ratio has thus

FREETOWN 00000102 003 OF 006

become heavily weighted towards international and non-governmental
organizations. While their participation is vital to the activities
of the Task Force, lack of government participation by all but a few
ministries hinders the ability of the Task Force to effectively
coordinate and encourage other government efforts.

One reported reason for lack of government involvement in the Task
Force is the issue of sitting fees. Section 7 of the
anti-trafficking law stipulates that members of the Task Force
should be paid an allowance determined by the MOSWGCA,
Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, in consultation with the
Minister of Finance. Given that the latter has never provided
funding for any anti-trafficking related work, and that the Ministry
of Justice is one agency that rarely attends Task Force meetings
despite its co-chair status, the issue of sitting fees has never
been addressed. It is reported, thus, that Ministries will not send
representatives since they will not be paid.

Those participating regularly on the Task Force, however, such as
the MOSWGCA and organizations like the International Organization on
Migration (IOM), UNICEF, and the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and
Trafficking (FAAST), share information about cases and discuss next
steps and planned activities.

E) The lack of significant government involvement in the Task Force,
lack of meetings of the Inter-Ministerial Committee, and lack of
GoSL funding to support initiatives that were mandated by the
anti-trafficking law mean that coordination remains poor and there
is no mechanism in place to adequately give assessments of
anti-trafficking efforts. Information is not made public; however,
the Government does make trafficking-related information available
to international organizations, non-government partners, and others
upon request.


A) Former 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 Palermo Protocol.

The Child Right Act was passed in 2007 by the outgoing Parliament.
This Act brings Sierra Leone into compliance with the U.N.
Convention on the Rights of the Child. It includes provisions
related to children associated with armed conflict, forced marriage,
and exploitive child labor. Child trafficking is mentioned in
Section 60 (1) (k), as a crime that must be investigated by the
district council and its child welfare department if identified.
Section 60 (1) (i) and (1) (j) puts the same stipulation for
investigation on incidents involving children living with or
associating with known prostitutes, other than their mother.

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

C) Penalties are the same for trafficking for labor and sexual

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

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, including one notable
bust in 2007, though such busts are rare. Prostitutes are sometimes
arrested for other crimes, including loitering.

F) The SLP conducted 14 investigations between January and December
2007. In five cases the accused were charged with trafficking and
are in court, and three cases are still under investigation. (NOTE:
Post is still awaiting final figures on prosecutions from the
Director of the Public Prosecutor. These should be available on
March 10. END NOTE.)

G) The Government does not provide specialized training, but does
make law enforcement officers and other government officials
available to attend trainings conducted by organizations. IOM,
UNICEF, and FAAST provided training to government officials over the
past year. The vast majority of the training was funded by the USG.

FREETOWN 00000102 004 OF 006

H) There are no current cooperative international investigations of

I) The Extradition Act of 1974 allows for extradition of persons
subject to crimes committed in 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 trial.

J) There are no known instances of GoSL authorities facilitating or
condoning trafficking; however, prevalent social attitudes and lack
of government capacity and awareness mean that barriers to
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. Further, border officials are
low-paid and continue to struggle with the concept of trafficking
versus smuggling. It is possible that such officials are bribed to
enable the easy movement of people and goods, but a direct link
between that kind of corruption and trafficking cases has yet to be

K) N/A

L) N/A

M) N/A. Sierra Leone does not have an identified sex tourism
problem. Inappropriate sexual conduct by tourists or business people
while in the country appears to be opportunistic, and not the
purpose of their visit to Sierra Leone.


A) The Government does not provide assistance to foreign trafficking

B) Victim care facilities are available to victims, including
foreign victims. IOM operates the only trafficking shelter in the
country in Freetown, which can house 22 victims at one time. Victims
in IOM's care also receive reintegration services for up to one
month, including counseling and education before being returned to
their families and communities. These efforts are coordinated
through the Task Force.

To access services, victims are generally referred through the SLP's
Family Support Units (FSUs). When a trafficking case is suspected,
the FSU calls the MOSWGCA to send its TIP focal point person to
conduct an interview. If the MOSWGCA confirms that the situation
involves trafficking, the victim is transferred to IOM for services
and support. IOM follows its own intake procedures upon referral, to
ensure that it is serving a bona fide trafficking victim. While this
process resulted in a number of referrals over the past year, it is
not foolproof. Cases from certain parts of the country are not being
referred to the Ministry or IOM, primarily because there are no
means to transport victims to Freetown. Also, the rainy season makes
passage to Freetown from some locations, such as the mining areas,
nearly impossible. Thus far, solutions to circumvent these problems
have not been identified (NOTE: IOM submitted a proposal to the
G/TIP FY2008 Call for Proposals that includes opening a second
shelter facility that would service the mining region. END NOTE.).
In the period of March 2007 through February 2008, IOM assisted 87

C) The Government does not provide funding to organizations that
assist trafficking victims. It hosts task force meetings, and
participates in the referral procedure, but does not provide a
monetary contribution to any efforts. These efforts are nominal, and
thus difficult to monetize.

In March 2008, the GoSL will make available a new shelter space in
Freetown, which will replace the space currently rented by IOM.
Following renovations, which IOM will fund using its PRM grant, the
new shelter will be open for victims. The renovations are expected
to take approximately 30 days to complete. The provision of this
space, an in-kind contribution by the MOSWGCA, will save IOM
approximately $1,000 in grant funds per month.

D) The FSUs refer victims to the MOSWGCA, but only when cases become
known to them. This referral system is discussed in (B) above.
According to the FSU database, 14 victims were identified and
referred for assistance in the 2007 calendar year. This number is
inaccurate, because some cases not being referred to FSUs. Rather
they remain only in SLP General Duty rosters. Also, some Districts
do not report their cases in a timely or accurate manner. The SLP
acknowledges that their statistics underestimate the problem, but

FREETOWN 00000102 005 OF 006

have no means of ensuring better reporting by offices in the
provinces. Further, IOM has assisted some victims who have not
fallen under the purview of the FSU. These factors, in part, explain
the discrepancy between the numbers.

E) N/A

F) The rights of victims are respected, though there is still
confusion among authorities on what constitutes trafficking. It is
thus likely that some victims fall through the cracks and do not
receive the care they require.

G) Victims are encouraged to participate in the legal process, but
the general efficiency of the justice sector has frustrated these
efforts. While victims are permitted to be active participants in
investigations and court proceedings, many lose patience between the
period of identification and the case going to trial. This can
result in cases being dropped, since most cases cannot be
successfully tried without the victim as a witness. The cost of
transportation is another deterrent preventing victims from
participating fully in a trial, because they must bear the cost of
transportation to the court in order to testify.

An additional problem is that social factors often prevent women and
children who are victims of sexual and other violence from obtaining
justice in the court system. Rape cases, for example, are often
settled out of court by male family members. One potential reason
why so few Districts report TIP cases is that communities choose to
use traditional forms of justice to address the alleged
perpetrators, rather than work through the formal system. Such
social factors can serve as a barrier for trafficking victims to
access the justice they are entitled to under the anti-trafficking

The law does provide for victim restitution, but there is yet to be
a victim who has received any kind of civil damages for abuse or
hardship suffered during their trafficking experience.

H) There are no witness protection programs available. However,
victims referred to IOM receive protection and care.

I) The Government does not provide training on identifying
trafficking victims, though officials are permitted to attend
training sessions offered by NGOs and IOs. The Government does not
provide training to its embassies and consulates in foreign
countries, nor does it encourage its embassies and consulates to
develop ongoing relationships with NGOs that serve trafficking

J) The Government does not provide assistance to its repatriated
nationals, though victims do receive assistance upon arrival from

K) Organizations provide protection services, awareness training,
vocational training, and counseling. They include UNICEF, UNHCR,
ICRC, IOM, FAAST, CVT, 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.


A) The Government does acknowledge that trafficking is a problem.

B) The Government did not run anti-trafficking information or
education campaigns during the reporting period. There are no
campaigns or efforts targeted at the demand-side.

C) The relationship between government officials and organizations
is generally a cordial one, though the onus is often placed on
non-governmental actors to conduct activities and maintain momentum.
The apparent lack of interest by various government ministries
creates some tension between organizations working to address TIP
and ministries that will not engage on the issue.

D) The Government does not appear to monitor immigration and
emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking.

E) The Task Force is the primary mechanism for coordination between
all relevant agencies, though it is sparely attended on the
Government side. The Government has a single focal point on TIP
within the MOSWGCA, but the standard for personnel, as written in
the anti-trafficking law, is not being maintained. The statute
calls for the creation and funding of a TIP Secretariat that will
coordinate all anti-TIP efforts, but the Secretariat has yet to be

FREETOWN 00000102 006 OF 006

funded despite promises made by the previous administration. As a
result, the TIP focal point and representatives from different
organizations play a far more substantial role in convening meetings
and organizing and conducting activities than they would if the
Secretariat was funded and established. The 2008 budget has already

been presented to Parliament, and did not include funding for this
effort. It will require advocacy by many actors to try to ensure
that funding for the Secretariat and activities are in next year's

F) The Government does have a national plan of action, which was
created by the Task Force in conjunction with an ECOWAS consultant
(NOTE: This consultant was paid with USG money through the G/TIP
UNICEF project. END NOTE.). The 2007 plan was implemented throughout
the year, but the three-year action plan is only now being discussed
and validated by Task Force members. It will need to receive further
validation from the Inter-Ministerial Committee, which could cause
considerable delay in its acceptance and implementation. The
agencies primarily involved in developing the action plan were

G) The Government has not taken efforts during the reporting period
to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.

H) N/A

I) N/A

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