The government increased efforts to identify and protect victims. During the reporting period, the government reported victim identification statistics combining human trafficking, child labor, and broader child exploitation cases. The government identified 1,004 potential trafficking victims and child exploitation victims during the reporting period, a significant increase from 45 trafficking victims and 53 victims of child labor or child trafficking during the previous reporting period. Of these, the government identified 352 children, 652 adults, 312 Ivoirians, and 692 foreign trafficking victims. Of the 692 foreign victims, 300 were Beninese, 32 Burkinabe, 56 Nigerians, and 184 Togolese, while the remaining 120 were from Mali, Senegal, Niger, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, France, Cameroon, and Liberia. The government identified 137 children and 32 adults in forced labor in the cocoa sector and 14 Ivoirian child forced labor victims in weaving. Traffickers exploited at least 402 of the identified victims in sex trafficking.
While the government did not have formal mechanisms to proactively identify trafficking victims or refer trafficking victims to care, the UCT, Brigade Mondaine, and Sub-Directorate had operational procedures to refer victims to care. Government ministries lacked coordination, which in some cases hindered the provision of services. The government provided some forms of assistance to all 1,004 identified victims including shelter, medical care, or psycho-social assistance. The government referred 137 forced labor victims to an NGO shelter in Aboisso for care and 14 child forced labor victims to a government-run orphanage outside of Abidjan. Despite the lack of a formal referral mechanism, in practice officials referred trafficking victims to one of 90 government-run social centers for victims of abuse to receive psychological care and then to NGOs for shelter and further services. When necessary, the government used orphanages or its 36 special education centers to shelter women and child trafficking victims. The government partnered with an NGO to plan a shelter for child victims of exploitation in Ferkessedougou. During the reporting period, the government-run shelter for child victims of exploitation in Soubre assisted 107 children (65 girls and 42 boys). The government continued to provide in-kind support including clothing, food, and hygiene kits to NGOs where it referred the victims. Foreign and domestic victims reportedly had the same access to care. In some cases, the government depended on foreign victims’ home embassies to provide shelter and care to sex trafficking victims prior to repatriation; the government referred 68 Nigerian trafficking victims to the Nigerian mission in Abidjan for care during the reporting period. NGOs reported that despite the provision of in-kind support, government support for victim protection and services remained inadequate and, in many cases. NGOs funded and provided the majority of victim care. The lack of services, especially for adults, and lack of reintegration assistance prevented some victims from accessing adequate services and rendered many victims vulnerable to re-victimization. The government collaborated with international organizations to facilitate the repatriation of 77 Ivoirian trafficking victims (61 women and 16 men) from Tunisia, Morocco, Kuwait, Turkey, Madagascar, and Comoros.
Ivoirian law required the government to provide protection and assistance to victims who participated in investigations or trials against their traffickers; the government did not report whether any victims received this assistance during the reporting period. In December 2018, the government approved a law protecting victim and witness testimony by establishing a bureau to coordinate victim-witness protection issues and develop a case management system for individuals; the decree to implement this law was not yet approved at the end of the reporting period. Trafficking victims could file civil suits against their traffickers, though, many victims were not aware of this option. The government did not report how many victims received damages following a civil suit during the reporting period. There were no reports the government detained, fined, or jailed victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit; however, due to the lack of formal identification procedures for adult trafficking victims and victims among vulnerable populations, some may have remained unidentified within the law enforcement system.