The government maintained inadequate anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. In February 2021, the government enacted amendments to the criminal code that criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Article 266-11 of the new criminal code prescribed penalties of seven to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 30 million Comorian francs ($74,880) for offenses involving an adult victim, and 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 30 million Comorian francs ($74,880) for those involving a child victim. These penalties were sufficiently stringent. However, the penalties prescribed for adult sex trafficking were not commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape.
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, despite previous reports listening centers recorded many cases that may have been trafficking. The government has not reported investigating a trafficking case 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; however, corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes at all levels of government remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action during the year. The police lacked basic resources, including vehicles, fuel, and equipment, which limited their ability to investigate trafficking cases. The judicial system in Comoros remained weak; observers continued to report criminals were frequently convicted and sentenced, but then released without explanation, creating a culture of impunity among criminals, including potential traffickers. While discouraged by the government, families or village elders continued to settle many allegations of sexual violence, possibly including sex trafficking and child domestic servitude, informally through traditional means without recourse to the formal court system. Many rural families still preferred informal arrangements with host families; children in these arrangements were particularly vulnerable to trafficking. In previous years, judges were known to negotiate agreements between a child’s parents and his or her trafficker, often returning the child to trafficking situations. Some police reportedly returned sexually abused children to their exploiters, sometimes due to a lack of shelters or an alternative form of care.
The government, in partnership with an international organization, provided training for 30 law enforcement officials on trafficking crimes, compared with no trafficking-related trainings in previous years. The government, in partnership with an international organization, organized training sessions for the Anti-Trafficking Task Force focused on the UN TIP Protocol and identifying cases of exploitation, including trafficking. The government, in partnership with the same international organization, also trained the task force and a group of religious judges on combating human trafficking in accordance with the principles of Islamic law. In partnership with an international donor, the government provided training to 20 police officers on Anjouan on children’s rights, which may have included information related to child trafficking.