The government modestly increased law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking, although some provisions of its anti-trafficking law remained inconsistent with international law. The 2016 Law No. 133, On the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons and Illicit Smuggling of Migrants, criminalizes all forms of trafficking; it prescribes penalties of five to 10 years imprisonment, and 20 when aggravating factors are present, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. However, contrary to the international definition, Law No. 133 requires the government prove that force, fraud, or coercion were used when children are subjected to sex trafficking. Law No. 111, Regarding the Fight Against Terrorism and Other Serious Crimes of 2011, remains in effect and also prohibits all forms of trafficking with the same problem regarding child sex trafficking, and prescribes penalties of 10 to 15 years imprisonment, which are also sufficiently stringent and commensurate with the penalty for other serious crimes. These two similar laws have some divergent definitions and penalties, which risk generating confusion and raising legal issues, making it difficult for law enforcement, prosecutorial, and judicial officials to effectively prosecute human traffickers.
During the reporting year, the government investigated nine trafficking cases, an increase from none the previous year. While the government reported prosecution of 10 suspected traffickers in seven cases, judges convicted all defendants for smuggling crimes due to insufficient evidence of exploitation. It did not initiate trafficking prosecutions or secure convictions in 2015. Two prosecutions, one of which commenced in 2012, remained ongoing from previous reporting periods. The government did not report any new investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses in 2016. In 2014, the government arrested five military officials for alleged trafficking crimes. However, the government reported they subsequently returned to their jobs and never appeared when summoned to court in 2015; this case was dismissed without criminal action during the reporting period.
To better delineate between trafficking and smuggling, more than 300 national police personnel attended an open discussion organized by Djibouti’s National Police Chief in Djibouti’s National Police academy and led by local experts on the differences between these crimes. During the reporting period, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) coordinated a roundtable for approximately 80 officials and civil society stakeholders to socialize the 2016 anti-trafficking law and mechanisms to investigate potential trafficking crimes; for this event the government paid for promotional materials, the event facility, refreshments, and 300 printed booklets containing the anti-trafficking law. In the bi-annual MOJ general assembly, the president of the Court of First Instance and State Prosecutor discussed effective application of the anti-trafficking law with judges and prosecutors. In collaboration with an international organization, the centrally-appointed regional governors of Tadjourah, Dikhil, and Obock hosted three separate trainings in their respective regions and each provided a venue for training sessions for roughly 40 participants from civil society and law enforcement focusing on the anti-trafficking law. In addition, the government provided in-kind contributions to support anti-trafficking trainings facilitated and funded by international organizations.