The government did not make anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Comorian law did not criminalize all forms of human trafficking. The labor code prohibited forced and bonded labor for adults, but did not prescribe penalties for these crimes, which was not sufficiently stringent. Article 323 of the penal code criminalized the facilitation of child sex trafficking and forced prostitution of adults and prescribed punishments of two to five years imprisonment and a fine between 150,000 and 2 million Comoros francs ($360 and $4,870), which were sufficiently stringent, however, the penalties prescribed for sex trafficking were not commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The Law Countering Child Labor and Trafficking in Children (child labor law), effective January 2015, criminalized 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 prescribed sufficiently stringent penalties of five months to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 to 5 million francs ($240 to $12,170). Article 8 in the child labor law criminalized child sexual exploitation and prescribed penalties of five to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 1 million to 2 million francs ($2,430 to $4,870). Article 13 of the child labor law criminalized child trafficking and prescribed penalties of ten years imprisonment and a fine of 30 million francs ($72,990). The penalties for Articles 8 and 13 were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. There appeared 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. The government did not report investigating, prosecuting, or convicting any traffickers during either of the last two reporting periods despite reports that one listening center recorded many cases that may have amounted to trafficking.. The government has not reported investigating a trafficker since 2014 and has never reported convicting a trafficker. The government also did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees allegedly complicit in human trafficking offenses. Corruption and official complicity at all levels of government, law enforcement, and the judiciary remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action during the year. 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. Some police reportedly returned sexually abused children to their exploiters. 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, among other things, for implementing the 2015 child labor law prohibiting child trafficking—did not receive training on the trafficking law and did not receive operational resources to conduct labor inspections of informal work sites, where children were especially vulnerable to forced labor. Inspectors did not remove or assist any children as a result of labor inspections during the reporting period.