Chad is a source, transit, and destination country for children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The country’s trafficking problem is primarily internal and frequently involves children being entrusted to relatives or intermediaries in return for promises of education, apprenticeship, goods, or money, and subsequently subjected to forced labor in domestic service or herding. Child trafficking victims are subjected to forced labor as beggars and agricultural laborers. Some children who leave their villages to attend traditional Koranic schools are forced into begging, street vending, or other labor by illegitimate teachers. Child herders, some of whom are victims of forced labor, follow traditional routes for grazing cattle and at times cross ill-defined international borders into Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Nigeria. Some of these children are sold in markets for use in cattle or camel herding. In some cases, child herders are subjected to forced labor by military or local government officials. Chadian girls travel to larger towns in search of work, where some are subsequently subjected to prostitution or are abused in domestic servitude.
The Government of Chad does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government demonstrated increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts by investigating 36 trafficking cases, initiating 23 prosecutions, and convicting 11 trafficking offenders. The government also conducted nationwide campaigns to raise awareness of human rights issues, including trafficking in persons, took steps to ensure that no child soldiers remained in any of its eight military districts, and created an inter-ministerial committee on trafficking. The government has yet to enact legislation specifically prohibiting human trafficking and continues to fail to provide trafficking victims direct services or systematically refer them to NGO and international organizations for care.
Recommendations for Chad:
Draft and enact legislation that prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes sufficiently stringent punishments; increase efforts to enhance magistrates’ understanding of and capability to prosecute and punish trafficking offenses under existing laws; provide specialized anti-trafficking training to law enforcement officers; continue anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, including the investigation and prosecution, when appropriate, of suspected trafficking offenders; continue collaborating with NGOs and international organizations to increase the provision of protective services to all types of trafficking victims, including children exploited in prostitution or forced into cattle herding or domestic service; allocate regular funding to support the activities of the inter-ministerial committee on trafficking in persons, including funding for victim protection efforts; continue to take steps to raise public awareness of trafficking issues, particularly at the local level among tribal leaders and other members of the traditional justice system; and draft and implement a national action plan to combat trafficking.
The government increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Existing laws do not specifically prohibit human trafficking, though they do prohibit forced prostitution and many types of labor exploitation. Title 5 of the labor code prohibits forced and bonded labor, prescribing fines equivalent of approximately $100 to $1,000, but not imprisonment; these penalties are not sufficiently stringent to deter this form of trafficking and do not reflect the serious nature of the crimes. Penal code Articles 279 and 280 prohibit the prostitution of children, prescribing punishments of five to 10 years’ imprisonment and fines up to the equivalent of approximately $2,000; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes. Pimping and owning brothels is prohibited under penal code Articles 281 and 282. The 1991 Chadian National Army Law prohibits recruitment of children younger than 18; punishment for those who violate this provision is at the discretion of military justice officials. Draft revisions to the penal code that would prohibit child trafficking and provide protection for victims have not been enacted for the fourth consecutive year. In March 2014, the government began efforts to draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation.
Although the government does not have the capacity to collect comprehensive law enforcement data, the government, NGOs, and international organizations reported at least 36 investigations, 23 prosecutions, and 11 convictions during the reporting period, a significant increase from the seven investigations, nine prosecutions, and five convictions reported the previous year. All 11 convictions resulted in prison sentences ranging from one to two years’ imprisonment; however, five of the trafficking offenders were granted suspended prison sentences. In December 2013, the government arrested and remanded to custody a senior military official for allegedly trafficking three boys for the purposes of forced labor; his trial was ongoing at the close of the reporting period. NGOs report that local officials, including traditional leaders, are often complicit in trafficking. During the reporting period, several canton chiefs—traditional chiefs officially recognized by the government—held meetings with village chiefs and determined that child trafficking is a forbidden practice; a village chief was subsequently suspended by a canton chief for a human trafficking-related offense. During the reporting period, the Ministry of Social Action, with the support of international organizations, coordinated training on human rights and child protection issues for 410 Chadian officials, including military, police, gendarmeries, judicial personnel, as well as civil society representatives; this training included modules on human trafficking. No anti-trafficking-specific training was provided by the government during the reporting period.
The Government of Chad sustained weak efforts to identify and provide protection to victims of trafficking. It did not officially report the number of victims identified or referred to protection services, although it identified at least 24 victims as part of the aforementioned investigations. Regional committees, located in six regions within Chad, identified and referred an unknown number of victims to protective services, but these bodies lacked support, resources, and coordination with the national government. The lack of formal victim identification procedures continued to be a problem. Inadequate human and financial resources severely limited the government’s ability to provide adequate services to victims of all crimes, including victims of trafficking. The government provided limited in-kind contributions and social services to victims of crime through a joint agreement with UNICEF, though these services were not tailored to the specific needs of trafficking victims. Through this joint agreement, the government provided facilities to UNICEF, which then used the buildings as shelters for trafficking victims. The government does not have a formal policy in place to offer temporary or permanent residency for foreign victims of trafficking. The government encouraged trafficking victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenders and did not detain, fine, or jail any trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked.
The government increased its efforts to prevent human trafficking. In October 2013, it created an inter-ministerial committee on trafficking in persons to coordinate all government efforts to combat trafficking; the committee convened for the first time in March 2014, but has yet to receive a dedicated budget. The government launched several nationwide campaigns on children’s rights, which included messages on the dangers of giving or selling one’s child into animal herding or domestic servitude, two of the most prevalent forms of trafficking in Chad. The Ministry of Social Action also launched a mapping project aimed at tracking violations of children’s rights, including trafficking; its findings are meant to help assess and improve the government’s previous national action plan against trafficking, which expired in 2010. In April 2013, the National Assembly adopted a Civil Registry Code that mandates full registration and certification of births, customary and religious marriages, and deaths; by mandating the issuance of birth certificates for all children born in Chad, the government aims to reduce the number of children at risk of being trafficked or recruited for military purposes. In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts involving children, the Mayor of N’Djamena issued a directive that prohibits the presence of underage minors in hotels without their guardians; as a result of this directive, four individuals, including a hotel owner, hotel manager, pimp, and client, are currently on trial for the prostitution of a child. With the exception of efforts to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers, the government made no discernible efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor during the reporting period.
The government took a number of steps to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers, including by creating an inter-ministerial committee specifically to address this practice in May 2013. Between August and October 2013, members of the inter-ministerial committee conducted a three-month joint verification visit with UNICEF to all eight military districts in Chad, during which no child soldiers were found. During the visit, government and UNICEF officials also conducted education campaigns for military officials on the rights of the child, including the legal prohibition of the recruitment of child soldiers. In October 2013, the President issued a presidential directive formally prohibiting the recruitment or use of child soldiers and requiring proof of age for all soldiers and recruits.