An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NIGER (Tier 2)

The Government of Niger does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Niger remained on Tier 2. These efforts included identifying and referring significantly more trafficking victims to services and creating an inter-ministerial committee to combat forced begging. The government investigated and prosecuted more traffickers and increased anti-trafficking training for front-line officials. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government reported minimal law enforcement action to address hereditary slavery and child forced begging, and courts convicted fewer traffickers. Niger’s law did not prescribe penalties for adult sex trafficking commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. Victim services, especially outside of the capital, remained insufficient.

  • Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes, including hereditary slavery and child forced begging, and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, which should involve significant prison terms.
  • Amend the 2010 anti-trafficking law to increase the base penalties for adult sex trafficking so they are commensurate with those for rape or kidnapping.
  • Train judicial and law enforcement officials on investigating and prosecuting trafficking crimes using the 2010 anti-trafficking law and Article 270 of the penal code.
  • Institutionalize training for front-line actors, including national police, border police, social workers, and judicial officials, on the NRM and victim identification procedures.
  • Proactively screen for trafficking indicators among vulnerable populations, including migrants, IDPs, communities historically exploited in traditional slavery, children exploited in forced begging, and children associated with armed groups and refer trafficking victims to care using the NRM.
  • Increase availability of comprehensive victim services in coordination with civil society, especially outside of the capital.
  • Continue to fund and empower the National Coordinating Commission for the Fight against Trafficking in Persons (CNCLTP) and the National Agency for the Fight against Trafficking in Persons and the Illicit Transport of Migrants (ANLTP/TIM) to execute their mandates.
  • Finalize a NAP to combat trafficking and allocate resources to its implementation.

The government increased prosecution efforts. Order No. 2010-86 on Combating Trafficking in Persons, enacted in 2010, criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The law prescribed penalties of five to 10 years’ imprisonment for trafficking offenses involving an adult victim, and 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment for those involving a child victim. These penalties were sufficiently stringent. Penalties for sex trafficking of children were commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape, although the penalties for sex trafficking of adults were not. Article 270 of the penal code also criminalized slavery and prescribed penalties of 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment and a fine. The government drafted a bill criminalizing the practice of wahaya, or “fifth wife” (a practice in which men exploit girls from impoverished families in forced labor and sexual servitude), which remained pending before the Council of Ministers at the end of the reporting period.

The government investigated 53 suspects, including 10 for sex trafficking, 13 for labor trafficking, and 30 for unspecified forms of trafficking; and prosecuted 49 alleged traffickers, including nine for sex trafficking, 13 for labor trafficking, and 27 unspecified. This was an increase compared with investigating 33 suspects and prosecuting 21 alleged traffickers in 2021. Courts convicted three traffickers (including two for sex trafficking and one for labor trafficking), compared with convicting eight traffickers in 2021; courts sentenced all three traffickers to one year imprisonment and issued 50,000 FCFA ($81) fines to two of the traffickers. Despite continued reporting that hereditary slavery practices, including the enslavement of children, and child forced begging remained prevalent, the government reported minimal law enforcement action to address these issues. The government did not report law enforcement statistics on investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of traffickers exploiting victims in hereditary slavery, traditional chiefs who perpetuated hereditary slavery practices, or corrupt Quranic teachers who forced children to beg. Officials reported some hereditary slavery victims refused to testify against their traffickers due to fear of retribution and cultural stigma, which may have impeded law enforcement efforts.

The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking crimes; however, corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained concerns, and may have inhibited law enforcement action. Some border officials were complicit in migrant smuggling, which may have included human trafficking operations. Observers reported some law enforcement demanded bribes from women in commercial sex, which may have included potential trafficking victims. Some law enforcement, prosecutors, and judicial officials may have declined to investigate or prosecute hereditary slavery or forced begging crimes involving traditional chiefs or marabouts. Although not explicitly reported as human trafficking, an international organization reported there was one new allegation, submitted in 2022, of alleged sexual exploitation with trafficking indicators by a Nigerien peacekeeper deployed to the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There were also five pending cases of alleged sexual exploitation with trafficking indicators by Nigerien peacekeepers deployed to UN peacekeeping missions between 2015 to 2018.  In three cases, the government had not yet provided the UN the information it needed to complete its investigation. The UN substantiated allegations in three cases, but the government had not reported the accountability measures taken, if any, by the end of the reporting period.

Designated prosecutors in each of Niger’s 10 high courts oversaw trafficking prosecutions and coordination with ANLTP/TIM. The Direction of Territorial Service (DST) had a specialized unit that investigated transnational trafficking cases, and the gendarmerie’s specialized unit for the protection of women and children also supported trafficking investigations and prosecutions. The government, through the ANLTP/TIM and in collaboration with civil society, trained judicial officials, law enforcement, front-line protection workers, consular officials, and other stakeholders on investigative procedures, data collection, and victim protection. Limited resources restricted officials’ ability to identify trafficking cases and effectively monitor the country’s lengthy, remote, and porous borders. The government continued sharing information on transnational trafficking cases with the Government of Nigeria through a joint technical working group.

The government increased protection efforts. The government identified 180 trafficking victims (including eight sex trafficking and 172 forced labor victims), compared with 52 victims identified in the previous reporting period. The majority of victims were boys exploited in forced labor. The government referred at least 176 victims to care compared with all 52 identified victims referred in the previous reporting period. An international organization identified and assisted an additional 32 trafficking victims and, with some government support, provided assistance and reintegration services to thousands of Nigerien and foreign national migrants expelled from Libya and Algeria, including potential trafficking victims.

The government coordinated victim identification and protection efforts through its NRM, which identified roles for prosecutors, judges, law enforcement, social workers, labor inspectors, diplomats, international organizations, NGOs, and union actors. The ANLTP/TIM, in collaboration with an international organization, trained front-line law enforcement and protection actors on the NRM and conducted quarterly reviews to assess its implementation and areas for improvement. Observers attributed an increase in victim identification and referral to front-line officials’ increased awareness and use of the NRM. In collaboration with an international organization, the government launched and began training officials on a border management manual, which included trafficking victim screening procedures. ANLTP/TIM conducted quarterly trainings for front-line responders on victim-centered interviewing techniques.

The government continued to operate a trafficking shelter in Zinder in coordination with an international organization; the shelter provided medical, psycho-social, legal services, and reintegration and repatriation assistance to 172 victims. Authorities coordinated with an international organization and foreign governments to repatriate both foreign victims identified in Niger and Nigerien victims identified abroad. An international organization operated additional shelters and transit centers, which trafficking victims could access. However, shelter services outside of the capital were limited, and observers noted border posts and police stations’ emergency assistance and reception capacity to care for trafficking victims was insufficient. Foreign and domestic victims had access to the same services. Foreign victims who faced hardship or retribution in their country of origin could apply for legal residency, including the ability to obtain employment, but authorities did not report granting these protections to any victims.

Access to victim services was not conditioned on cooperation with law enforcement proceedings. The government provided victim-witness assistance, including legal services and psycho-social support, and victims had the option to provide written or video testimony; however, fear of social stigma may have deterred some victims’ participation in criminal proceedings. The law allowed victims to obtain restitution; however, the government did not report if courts awarded restitution to any victims. Victims could file civil suits against their traffickers. However, no victims reportedly did so, and many victims were not aware of this option. Due to inconsistent application of formal victim identification procedures, authorities may have detained some unidentified trafficking victims.

The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. The CNCLTP continued to serve as the ministerial coordinating task force for the government’s anti-trafficking efforts, and the ANLTP/TIM was the CNCLTP’s implementing body to address trafficking in persons; both convened regularly. In 2022, the government allocated 22 million FCFA ($35,780) to the ANLTP/TIM, including funding dedicated to victim protection; this was a decrease compared with 32 million FCFA ($52,000) allocated the previous year. The government also allocated 12 million FCFA ($19,515) to the CNCLTP, the same amount allocated the previous year. The government did not finalize its draft 2023-2026 anti-trafficking NAP, which remained pending adoption by parliament for the second consecutive year.

The government held some awareness raising campaigns in collaboration with civil society and distributed materials in local languages and French. The government created an inter-ministerial committee to combat forced begging under the prime minister’s office and began drafting a national strategy and action plan. However, it did not regulate Quranic schools to prevent child forced begging. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government did not have hotlines available to report trafficking crimes. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to troops prior to their deployment as peacekeepers. Although not explicitly reported as human trafficking, there were six pending cases of alleged sexual exploitation with trafficking indicators by Nigerien peacekeepers deployed to the UN peacekeeping missions between 2015 to 2022.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Niger, and traffickers exploit victims from Niger abroad. Hereditary and caste-based slavery practices perpetuated by politically influential tribal leaders continued. Some Arab, Zjerma, and Tuareg ethnic groups propagate traditional forms of caste-based servitude in the Tillaberi and Tahoua regions, as well as along the border with Nigeria. Traffickers exploit victims of hereditary slavery in animal herding, small-scale agriculture, or domestic servitude; experts assert victims of hereditary slavery frequently do not self-identify or file complaints against traffickers due to a lack of support services and ingrained dependency on the trafficker. Another form of traditional bondage known as “passive” slavery consists of powerful community members preserving complete control of former servants’ individual freedoms. Estimates of the numbers of persons exploited in traditional slavery vary widely, but one report estimates it is as high as 800,000. In the Tahoua region, influential chiefs facilitate the practice of wahaya for financial or political gain. This practice results in some community members exploiting girls as young as nine in forced labor and sexual servitude; wahayu children are then born into slave castes, perpetuating the cycle of slavery. Girls fleeing these forced marriages are vulnerable to traffickers, who exploit them in commercial sex due to a lack of support services exacerbated by continued discrimination based on their former status as wahayu.

Traffickers in Niger predominantly exploit Nigerien children and women, as well as West and Central African victims, in sex and labor trafficking. Some Quranic teachers (marabouts) exploit boys (talibés) as young as 6 years old in forced labor and begging within Niger and in neighboring countries, at times with parents facilitating the trafficking; many teachers set daily begging quotas enforced by beatings, and observers report the students lack access to adequate food and shelter. An NGO study estimates tens of thousands of students are forced to beg for an average of nine hours a day. Nigerien women recruit talibés for domestic labor, often leading to forced labor in domestic servitude. Traffickers also exploit women and girls in forced begging, including in neighboring countries. Semi-organized transnational criminal groups exploit children from Niger and neighboring countries in sex trafficking and forced labor in gold, salt, trona, and gypsum mines; agriculture; forced begging; stone quarries; markets; bus stations; and manufacturing within the country. Traffickers exploit Nigerien and foreign adult and child victims in forced labor in artisanal mining in Niger. Traffickers exploit girls in sex trafficking near the border with Nigeria and along the main east-west highway, primarily between the cities of Birni n’Konni and Zinder. Traffickers transit Nigerian women through Niger and exploit them in sex trafficking in neighboring countries, and traffickers exploit Nigerian and Nigerien women in sex trafficking in northern mining cities and transportation centers in Niger.

Some Nigeriens exploit young girls from impoverished families in domestic servitude through a system known as confiage. This system consists of parents entrusting children to a near relative or a friend of the family with the expectation the child will receive an education. However, some children are exploited in domestic servitude or sex trafficking. The ANLTP/TIM reported some parents “rent” out their children for the purposes of forced begging, as guides for visually-impaired individuals, or in domestic servitude in a phenomenon called location d’enfant (child rental) in the Kantche Department in Zinder. NGO and government entities note that school closures and economic vulnerability resulting from instability and the pandemic have increased children’s vulnerability to recruitment by armed groups. Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa forcibly recruit Nigerien boys to serve as child soldiers. Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), a militant jihadist organization, uses children in combat and support roles and exploits women and girls as young as 13 in forced marriage, sometimes through abduction and for the purpose of exploitation. Refugees and IDPs fleeing regional insecurity are vulnerable to trafficking.

Niger is a transit country for adults and children from West and Central Africa migrating through Algeria, Libya, and Morocco towards southern Europe, where some duplicitous transporters – or passeurs – exploit migrants in forced labor or sex trafficking. European support for the government’s implementation of its 2015 anti-smuggling law, intended to limit irregular migration through Niger, has increased migrants’ vulnerability to forced labor or sex trafficking by criminal networks. Migrant smugglers use unpaid transportation fees as a form of debt bondage, subsequently coercing some migrants who cannot pay into forced labor or sex trafficking. Illicit labor recruiters facilitate the transport of Nigerien women and children to Nigeria, North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, where traffickers then exploit victims in sex trafficking or forced labor in domestic service and the agricultural sector. Some border officials are complicit in migrant smuggling, which may include trafficking operations. In one NGO survey of migrant smugglers operating in Niger, almost 70 percent reported having contact with state officials, including obtaining documents and receiving information on patrols. In the past, media noted some law enforcement and border officials reportedly accepted bribes from traffickers to facilitate the transportation of victims through the country.

Sustained mass expulsions of Nigerien and foreign nationals from Libya and Algeria to Niger increased migrants’ vulnerability to trafficking. Nigeriens comprise about 25 percent of international migrants in Libya, where there are widespread reports of officials subjecting detained migrants to violence and abuse, including trafficking. Seasonal migrants traveling to Algeria and Libya for work remain vulnerable to forced labor and sex trafficking. Criminal groups consisting of Algerians and Nigeriens force some Nigerien children to beg in Algeria. Trafficking networks transport Nigerian sex trafficking victims through Niger to Libya. Observers report poverty and lack of economic opportunity, exacerbated by climate change’s effect on agricultural production and animal husbandry, are primary driving factors of human trafficking. Cuban nationals working in Niger on medical missions may have been forced to work by the Cuban government.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future