The government did not make anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Comorian law does not prohibit all forms of human trafficking. Article 310 of the penal code prohibits aiding or assisting in the prostitution of others, prescribing penalties of six months to three years imprisonment and fines. Article 311 prescribes increased penalties, ranging from two to 10 years imprisonment, for aggravating factors related to article 310. Article 323 prohibits the facilitation of child prostitution and prescribes sufficiently stringent punishments of two to five years imprisonment and fines; however, these penalties are not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. Existing laws do not criminalize the forced prostitution of adults. Article 2 of the labor code prohibits forced and bonded labor, prescribing insufficiently stringent penalties of three months to three years imprisonment or fines. The Law Countering Child Labor and Trafficking in Children (child labor law), which went into effect in January 2015, criminalizes slavery or similar practices, such as the sale and trafficking of children, bonded labor, and debt bondage—as well as forced or compulsory labor—including the forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflicts in article 6 and prescribes an insufficiently stringent penalty of five months to 10 years imprisonment. There appears to be an overlap between provisions of the child labor law, the labor code and the penal code that could add to the challenge of prosecuting traffickers in Comoros. Despite parliamentary approval in 2014, the president did not sign into law the penal code amendments that would specifically prohibit trafficking in persons.
The government did not systematically collect data on law enforcement efforts, including human trafficking. It did not report investigating, prosecuting, or convicting traffickers during the reporting period. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses. The government did not provide further information on the previously reported investigation of a magistrate allegedly responsible for the domestic servitude of a 14-year-old girl. Corruption at all levels of government, law enforcement, and the judiciary remained a significant concern in Comoros and hindered law enforcement efforts, including efforts to address trafficking. Judges were known to have negotiated agreements between a child’s parents and his or her trafficker, often returning the child to trafficking situations. Families or village elders settled many allegations of sexual violence, including sex trafficking, informally through traditional means, without recourse to the formal court system.
The Morals and Minors Brigade investigated an unknown number of cases of child abuse and exploitation nationwide through July 2016, which may have included child trafficking; its investigative efforts were hampered by a lack of government funds during the reporting period. Some police reportedly returned sexually abused children to their exploiters. NGO-run listening centers, supported by an international organization to provide assistance to abused and neglected children, reported 24 cases of sexual abuse on Anjouan, and 18 arrests from 27 cases of sexual violence against minors on Moheli, some of which may have involved trafficking crimes.
The police lacked basic resources, including vehicles, fuel, and equipment, and often relied on victims to provide funds for transport or communication. The government did not provide training for law enforcement officials on how to recognize, investigate, and prosecute trafficking and related crimes. The Ministry of Labor’s four labor inspectors—responsible for implementing the 2015 child labor law prohibiting child trafficking—did not receive training on the law and did not receive operational resources to conduct labor inspections of informal work sites, where children are especially vulnerable to forced labor. Inspectors did not remove or assist any children as a result of labor inspections during the reporting period.