The government maintained modest efforts to protect trafficking victims. The national committee to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts, chaired by the deputy prime minister, was fully operational during the year; however, the government did not report if the Council of Ministers issued the implementing regulations to the anti-trafficking proclamation pertaining to protective services for victims. The government continued to partner with international organizations and NGOs to provide services to victims; although it did not allocate funding to these entities, it provided some in-kind support, including land, facilities, staff, and other logistical services on an ad hoc basis. The 2009 charities and societies proclamation, which prohibits organizations receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from foreign sources from engaging in activities that promote human rights, restricted some NGOs’ ability to provide protective services to trafficking victims. The government lacked standard procedures for front-line responders to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable outbound populations. In 2016, federal and regional governments intercepted approximately 30,000 persons in the border areas of Ethiopia, the vast majority of whom were intending to depart for work in Gulf states and other African countries, and many were minors—a population vulnerable to trafficking; however, an unknown number were intercepted outside of the reporting period. The government continued to jointly operate two migration response centers in Afar and Metema with an international organization. The government operated child protection units in Addis Ababa and several major cities; staff was trained in assisting vulnerable children, including potential trafficking victims. Police and civil service transport workers—trained to recognize child trafficking victims—referred the majority of intercepted children to local shelters. Two NGOs in Addis Ababa provided comprehensive reintegration services, familial reunification, medical care, mental health counseling, legal counsel, food and housing, and vocational training to more than 900 women and child victims repatriated after enduring trafficking; these NGOs operated without any governmental funding or in-kind support. The government’s assistance to repatriated victims improved. During the year, the government, in collaboration with an international organization, repatriated more than 3,700 Ethiopian trafficking victims from Djibouti, Egypt, Malawi, Mozambique, Yemen, Oman, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Saudi Arabia. The government provided victim identification services and sometimes negotiated discounted air fares for returnees. Some Ethiopian missions in the Gulf states had shelters for trafficking victims on respective mission compounds.
In 2016, the government, in conjunction with an international organization, finalized a national mechanism for referring repatriated trafficking victims to social services; although it is in effect, reports suggest implementation is still nascent. While officials reported encouraging victims in some cases to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, the number of victims who took an active role in these processes was unknown and it was unclear whether they were afforded legal assistance or other support to facilitate their doing so. The 2015 anti-trafficking proclamation extends to trafficking victims protections outlined under the Witness and Whistleblowers Protection Proclamation (No. 699/2010); it mandates extensive protections and rights for trafficking victims, including protection from prosecution for acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking. Ethiopian law does not provide alternatives to the deportation of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. There were no reports the government detained, jailed, fined, or otherwise penalized victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking in 2016, although the government housed some victims at police stations who were waiting to provide testimony in their respective trafficking cases.