SUDAN: Tier 2 Watch List
Sudan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Internal trafficking occurs in Sudan, including in areas outside of the government’s control. Sudanese women and girls, particularly those from rural areas or those who are internally displaced, and labor migrants and refugees are vulnerable to domestic servitude. There are an increasing number of street children from Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, and, in some instances, West Africa, some of whom are vulnerable to trafficking, including forced begging. Sudanese girls are vulnerable to sex trafficking in restaurants and brothels. Government security forces recruited and used children as combatants and in support roles. In 2014, an international organization reported four children between the ages of 13 and 15 years were observed in Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) uniforms carrying weapons. Non-governmental armed groups recruited and used children under 17 years old. In 2013, Sudanese children in Darfur and South Sudan were forcibly recruited as child soldiers and used by various armed groups, including the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. In 2014, the whereabouts of these children could not be confirmed. Artisanal gold mining continued in Darfur without regulation, some of which was undertaken with forced child labor. One advocacy group reported inter-tribal ethnic clashes over control of mines resulted in an increase in the use of child laborers.
Migrants, including some refugees and asylum seekers from East and West Africa, South Sudan, Syria, and Nigeria smuggled into or through Sudan are highly vulnerable to exploitation. Eritrean nationals are abducted from Sudan-based refugee camps or at border crossings, while some are willingly smuggled out of Eritrea and are subsequently extorted for ransom money and brutalized by smugglers, many of whom are linked to the Rashaida tribe; some are forced to perform domestic or manual labor. Some refugee and asylum seeker abductees are increasingly taken from Khartoum, where they endure severe abuses and are subjected to forced labor or transferred to other countries for similar purposes. Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Filipina women are subjected to domestic servitude in Sudanese homes. Bangladeshi adults migrate legally to Sudan for work in factories, where some are subjected to forced labor. East African and possibly Thai women are subjected to forced prostitution; agents recruit women from Ethiopia with promises of employment as domestic workers, with the intent to force them into prostitution in brothels in Khartoum.
Sudanese women and girls are subjected to domestic servitude and sex trafficking abroad. Some Sudanese men who voluntarily migrate to the Middle East as low-skilled laborers encounter situations of forced labor. Sudanese children in Saudi Arabia are used by criminal gangs for forced begging and street vending. Sudanese criminal gangs falsely promise Sudanese nationals jobs in Libya, but sell them to Libyans who force them to work in agriculture. Corruption and bribery among Sudanese government authorities create obstacles in capturing, prosecuting, and holding traffickers in detention. It was reported that Sudanese police and border guards allegedly facilitate abductions of Eritrean nationals, some of whom are trafficking victims, and allow potential victims to be transported across security checkpoints or international borders without intervention. In October 2014, a prison guard was charged with facilitating the escape of a convicted trafficker. Some officials are reportedly involved in child prostitution rings and profit from such crimes.
The Government of Sudan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period. Therefore, Sudan is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. In 2014, the government increased its efforts to publicly address trafficking and prevent the crime: it established a national anti-trafficking council; began drafting a national action plan against trafficking, smuggling, and kidnapping; hosted a regional conference to address trafficking and smuggling; acceded to the UN TIP Protocol; and engaged on regional initiatives to address human trafficking and regional migration. The government also designated special prosecutors to oversee trafficking cases and demonstrated increased cooperation with international agencies working to combat trafficking. Nevertheless, it continued to deny the existence of forced labor, sex trafficking, and recruitment of child soldiers by government security forces. The government did not always clearly distinguish human trafficking, which involves reducing or holding someone in compelled service, as distinct from other crimes, such as smuggling, kidnapping, and organ harvesting. The government supported a safe house operated by an international organization that provided protection to trafficking victims. However, it did not proactively identify or provide adequate protection to trafficking victims, and victims continued to be penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SUDAN:
Implement the anti-trafficking law to increase prosecutions and convictions of traffickers, including officials complicit in trafficking crimes and child soldiering; harmonize national- and state-level anti-trafficking legislation; establish federal anti-smuggling legislation, as distinct from the anti-trafficking law, and train law enforcement authorities on how to distinguish trafficking cases from other crimes and ensure trafficking victims are not prosecuted for involvement in these crimes; develop and implement a national anti-trafficking action plan; criminalize child prostitution in the absence of coercion, and amend the anti-trafficking law to include a definition of exploitation and exclude the requirement to prove gain or advantage to the trafficker; prevent the recruitment of child soldiers by any group and demobilize all child soldiers from the ranks of government forces, aligned militias, and rebel groups and provide them access to protective services; proactively identify and provide protective services to trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as domestic workers, women and children in prostitution, refugees and asylum seekers, foreign migrants, and Sudanese nationals abroad; establish and implement procedures for law enforcement officials to identify trafficking victims and refer them to appropriate assistance; continue to work with international organizations to provide adequate protective services, including shelter, to victims; allow victims protective services regardless of their participation in the investigation of their trafficker, and ensure physical protection and translation services to victims willingly participating in these investigations; institute regular anti-trafficking training for relevant government officials and Sudanese diplomats overseas; amend the Law of 1955 Regarding Domestic Servants to provide additional rights and protections for domestic workers; proactively identify, retrieve, and reintegrate abductees who remain in situations of enslavement; and develop community-based approaches to prevent trafficking by addressing the factors that motivate perpetrators to commit trafficking crimes.
The government increased its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts; however, it continued to lack effective implementation of anti-trafficking legislation. The government did not maintain comprehensive data on law enforcement efforts or make such information publicly available; however, to improve data collection, the government began in 2014 to require states to report trafficking statistics to Khartoum on a regular basis. The anti-trafficking law, enacted in March 2014, prescribes between three and 10 years’ imprisonment for acts of trafficking, between five and 20 years’ imprisonment for aggravated trafficking, and capital punishment in cases where the trafficking victim dies; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The legislation does not, however, criminalize all forms of human trafficking. Contrary to international law, it does not prohibit child prostitution in the absence of coercion and fails to adequately define “exploitation.” The Child Act of 2008 prohibits, but does not prescribe punishments for forced child labor, child prostitution, sex trafficking, and the recruitment of children under the age of 18 years into armed forces or groups; the act also includes provisions for the rehabilitation and reintegration of child victims. The Sudan Armed Forces Act of 2007 prohibits members of the armed forces from recruiting children younger than 18 years, enslaving civilians, or coercing civilians into prostitution; the government has never used this statute to hold military officials accountable. In July 2014, the government enacted a law raising the age of conscription into the Popular Defense Forces from 16 to 18 years and establishing 18 years old as the minimum age for joining the national reserve service and the national service. Law enforcement and judicial officials struggled with understanding and appropriately applying the national anti-trafficking law throughout the reporting period; thus, authorities utilized other legal frameworks carrying lesser penalties to punish trafficking offenders, such as state-level anti-trafficking legislation. In some instances, victims were penalized under immigration laws and authorities charged perpetrators of other crimes, such as smuggling, under the national trafficking law due to the absence of a federal law specific to the crime that was committed.
The government did not publish law enforcement statistics for human trafficking as distinct from other crimes, such as smuggling, kidnapping, or organ trafficking. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) reported it opened five trafficking cases in 2014 and eight cases in 2015 in Khartoum. UNHCR reported that, between January and April 2015, the government opened eight investigations into possible trafficking offenses in Kassala; all charges were made under Articles 7, 9, and 13 of the anti-trafficking law. During the reporting period, the government reported it conducted approximately 50 security operations targeting trafficking crimes. Authorities claimed to have rescued 374 vulnerable refugees, some of whom may be trafficking victims, but the government did not specify if any trafficking offenders were brought to justice as a result of the operations or if any of the individuals were prosecuted for immigration or other offenses. In November 2014, local media reported Sudanese authorities freed six Eritrean migrants in Eastern Sudan who were forcibly held and chained together by organized criminals; it was unclear if the migrants were victims of forced labor or sex trafficking. Government authorities reported efforts to investigate cases of organ harvesting. It is not clear that the victims of these crimes were subjected to forced labor or sex trafficking. Unlike previous years, the government prosecuted government officials complicit in human trafficking. In February 2015, the Ministry of Justice inaugurated a special prosecutor’s office in Kassala state. The government also dedicated special prosecutors in Wad Medani and Khartoum to oversee trafficking cases. The government provided limited specialized anti-trafficking training to officials and continued to rely on international organizations to do so. The MOI reported training on anti-trafficking legislation was incorporated into general training for commissioned police officers, while non-commissioned officers were provided daily guidance on handling trafficking cases. In March 2015, 20 police officers assigned to the Khartoum trafficking in persons unit were trained on the links between trafficking and cyber-crimes; an additional 20 officials were scheduled to receive the same training in April 2015.
The government demonstrated limited efforts to identify trafficking victims, though it supported international organizations to do so; however, the government continued to lack the full capacity to protect victims and relied heavily on international organizations and domestic groups for these services. The government did not report statistics reflecting its efforts to identify trafficking victims in 2014, and few care facilities were accessible to trafficking victims. It did not practice systematic procedures to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, including refugees and asylum seekers, nor did it consistently utilize a formal referral mechanism to refer victims to protection services. Authorities continued to treat foreign victims as illegal migrants and failed to systematically screen them for trafficking. During the reporting period, the government arrested, detained, prosecuted, or deported trafficking victims among vulnerable populations for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking, such as immigration and prostitution violations. The government returned or deported to Eritrea registered refugees or asylum seekers, failing to screen them for trafficking. The Ministry of Labor’s (MOL) Secretariat of Sudanese Working Abroad—the body responsible for supporting Sudanese migrant workers abroad—reportedly had an anti-trafficking section to repatriate abused workers from the Middle East; however, it did not report if it identified or assisted Sudanese forced labor victims working overseas.
The government supported a safe house operated by an international organization in Kassala state, which provided secure shelter, medical treatment, and psycho-social support; however, it was sometimes overcrowded and authorities did not allow all victims to freely leave. Moreover, government-appointed social workers in the safe house were unable to provide continuous psycho-social support. As of March 2015, this safe house sheltered 17 individuals, most of who were identified by an international organization as trafficking victims. In 2014, the MOI worked with an international organization and a local NGO to begin plans to establish a safe house for trafficking victims in Khartoum; formal plans to establish this assistance were still in discussion at the end of the reporting period. The government, however, did not provide formal support to other safe houses operated by some community associations that assisted vulnerable groups, including trafficking victims.
In 2014, the National Council for Children and Women (NCCW) established a National Coordinating Committee for Combating and Preventing Child Trafficking, headed by the Secretary General of NCCW; it includes representatives from more than 10 government ministries, international NGOs, and international organizations. Investigative authorities sometimes pressured trafficking victims to cooperate in the investigations of their traffickers, thereby making their stay in protection facilities contingent on their cooperation. Some victims’ participation in investigations caused their traffickers to retaliate against them, but authorities did not promise victims protection from such harm. The government did provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they would face hardship or retribution. The Law of 1955 Regarding Domestic Servants outlined a process for employing and registering domestic workers and provided limited labor rights and protections for them; however, few—if any—domestic workers were registered and protected under the law.
The government made limited improvements to prevent trafficking. It continued to publicly acknowledge the existence of cross-border trafficking in Sudan through media outreach and cooperative efforts with foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations; however, it continued to deny that forced labor, sex trafficking, and recruitment of child soldiers occurred in the country. The government formed a National Committee to Combat Trafficking to coordinate inter-ministerial anti-trafficking efforts; it met for the first time in October 2014. In partnership with international organizations, the council began drafting a national action plan to implement the anti-trafficking law and address human trafficking, kidnapping, and smuggling. In October 2014, the government hosted a regional anti-trafficking and smuggling conference in Khartoum for governments in the Horn of Africa; during the conference, it signed bilateral border management and intelligence-sharing agreements, which included combating trafficking, with a number of African countries. Beginning in November 2014, the government also participated in an international initiative, which was aimed at combating trafficking and smuggling of migrants between the Horn of Africa and Europe. The government announced in October 2014 it would launch an inter-agency high-level coordination mechanism to review implementation of international labor law standards to address child labor problems. An international organization reported the MOL increased its monitoring of labor recruiters seeking Sudanese to work abroad, yet it was unclear what policy measures the MOL put in place—if any—to prevent exploitation of this group. Likewise, lack of capacity and poor access to conflict areas hindered the MOL’s ability to identify or address forced labor violations in the country or punish employment agencies for labor violations.
The government continued to deny recruitment of child soldiers. The SAF’s Child Protection Unit continued to lead efforts to work with international organizations on child protection issues, including preventing the recruitment of child soldiers. Various other government entities were also mandated to address the recruitment of child soldiers, but lacked the financial resources or capacity to effectively carry out their mandates in this regard. In addition, the Ministry of Education worked with an international organization to establish schools and develop initiatives to keep children in school to deter child recruitment by armed groups in Darfur. In February 2015, the government hosted a workshop organized with international organizations and NGOs on implementing standards for child protection, including children associated with armed conflict or armed groups. International organizations, however, reported cooperation with the government on disarmament and demobilization programming remained challenging due to the government’s limited resources. Sudan’s Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Commission remained a weak entity that lacked capacity and financial resources to carry out its mandate. Because the government continued to deny commercial sex and forced labor existed in Sudan, it did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts and forced labor, nor did it raise awareness of child sex tourism. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel. Sudan acceded to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol in December 2014.