On the occasion of the World Day for the Dignity of Victims of Human Trafficking, celebrated on July 30, where are we in the fight against modern slavery in Africa?
Seventeen years after the United Nations Convention against Transnational Crime has emerged, the results of the fight against human trafficking in Africa remain mixed. Of course, efforts against this global scourge have continued to be deployed in recent years and the subject is widely covered in the media and within international bodies. However, in many African countries, modern slavery is still a reality, which is difficult to get rid of.
At the center of the fight against cross-border human trafficking, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has repeatedly deplored lack of consideration of the specifics of modern slavery. Global trafficking estimated at 32 billion dollars: Africa is the second continent, after Asia, on which human trafficking is the most widespread.
At least 73% of victims in Africa are women and children, according to UNODC. Among them, 40% are required to perform forced labor, particularly in the agricultural, mining, fishing and, to a lesser extent, in domestic work. The victims of modern slavery are particularly vulnerable.
Cocoa and uranium, sectors that supply miners
An alarming finding that raises questions. Is awareness at state level sufficient? And what about the laws? At the head of the countries where modern slavery is little repressed, we find Eritrea, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger and Ghana. Countries where mining and agricultural activities are omnipresent.
The cultivation of cocoa in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire pushes unscrupulous farmers to participate in this human trafficking. The two West African countries, however highly industrialized, according to the ICI respectively have 530 and 000 miners engaged in cocoa cultivation, according to figures dating from 778. In June 000, while a case law in the matter was due make it possible to favor the victims of modern slavery, the United States Supreme Court has opted for support for agribusiness giants, Cargill and Nestlé.
In Niger, it is the uranium industry - particularly the French of AREVA - which is most often singled out for its tolerance vis-à-vis the hiring of minors thus participating in artisanal mining. Beyond the dangers of this industry, there are at least 58 children who work in the extraction and transport of radioactive materials. Since 000, there have been 2000 legal proceedings, 87 of which have resulted in arbitration in favor of industrialists and to the detriment of victims.
War and poverty, the causes of modern slavery in Africa
If the giants of industry, especially in the West, are regularly on the dock, modern slavery in Africa is in fact mainly practiced in the sectors of serious crime and war. Eritrea holds the sad record of nearly 10% of victims of slavery among its population. It is closely followed by Burundi, with 4% of the population victims of human trafficking, according to the world slavery index.
In this case, human trafficking is characterized by domestic enslavement and sexual exploitation. The UN speaks of 63% of victims in Eritrea, Burundi, CAR, Somalia and Mozambique who are "forced to marry without their consent". According to the International Labor Office, forced marriage can be practiced in exchange for money or debt repayment.
According to Human Rights Watch, African states have stepped up initiatives to end forced marriages since 2015. However, Unicef says that while rates are falling in sub-Saharan Africa, domestic slavery is peaking in Libya and Somalia. . Without forgetting Mauritania, where slavery continues to be debated. Finally, in Eritrea, the inability to obtain official figures fears the worst, with Ethiopian refugees crossing the border in the tens of thousands.
Encouraging signs in Ghana and DRC
New quotas for the fight against modern slavery have been imposed by the UN. The US Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was incorporated into the 2016 UNODC law. And according to the UN body, "no African country meets the minimum standards of the TVPA for the elimination of human trafficking," quotes a 2020 report.
Currently, 19 African countries are on the UNODC Level 2 Watch List, and only one country, Eritrea, is still on the Red List. According to Anti-Slavery International, in 2020, 54% of people exploited in Africa are exploited to repay debts. The NGO counts “at least 400 women victims of sexual exploitation”, with 000% of girls under 21 years old. A figure which represents 18% of the sexual exploitation of minors in the world.
According to the latest figures, although the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone records more than a quarter of victims in Africa, "the trend is downward," according to UNODC. There are fewer and fewer child soldiers and human trafficking in the country is starting to decline. TOIn Ghana, a great leap towards the repression of modern slavery has been observed in recent years. According to the International Justice Mission (IJM), the intervention of the police has reduced human trafficking and forced child labor in the country by 13%.