The government maintained minimal law enforcement efforts. In May 2017, the president signed the revised penal code into law, which criminalized labor and sex trafficking offenses through a variety of new criminal provisions. Article 330 criminalized the recruitment, transfer, harbor, or receipt of a person for the purpose of trafficking and prescribed penalties of five to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 to 5 million Central African CFA francs (CFA) ($180 to $8,810); these penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with regard to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Articles 327 and 331 together criminalized “involuntary labor” or servitude through the use of force, fraud, or coercion and prescribed a penalty of two to 10 years imprisonment, or a fine of 100,000 to 1 million CFA ($180 to $1,760), or both; these penalties were sufficiently stringent. Articles 328 and 331 together criminalized slavery through the use of force, fraud, or coercion and prescribed penalties of 10 to 20 years and 200,000 to 10 million CFA ($350 to $17,610); these penalties were sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Article 335 and 336 together criminalized the prostitution of adults through the use of force, fraud, or coercion and the exploitation of children through prostitution and prescribed penalties of two to five years imprisonment and 100,000 to 2 million CFA ($180 to $3,520); these penalties were sufficiently stringent but not commensurate with other serious crimes, such as rape. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the January 1991 Ordinance on the Reorganization of the Armed Forces, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child criminalized recruitment of children younger than 18 years; punishment for those who violate this provision was at the discretion of military justice officials. In March 2018, the president signed an ordinance that criminalized trafficking in persons and created the National Commission for the Fight against Trafficking in Persons. The National Assembly was reviewing proposed revisions of the Child Protection Code, Labor Code, and Family Code, which contained additional provisions criminalizing child trafficking and increasing protections for children working in the informal sector.
Although the government did not collect comprehensive law enforcement data, it reported investigating one potential trafficking case involving an 11-year-old girl, and it did not prosecute any suspected traffickers. The government did not convict any traffickers for the second consecutive year. During the previous year, the government investigated and prosecuted one marabout, a teacher at a Quranic school, for the alleged forced begging of two Quranic school students; however, prolonged strikes and closures of the courts due to a lack of government funding stemming from a severe economic crisis resulted in the suspension of cases across the country, including the trafficking case. The government provided no further information on the progress of this case. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses; however, NGOs reported some local officials’ suspected involvement in trafficking during the reporting period. In November 2017, government law enforcement officials cooperated with INTERPOL in an international anti-trafficking investigation that resulted in the release of over 500 potential trafficking victims, but authorities did not share any investigation or victim referral data.