afrol News, 6 June - Senegal is one of the principal African countries mentioned in a new US State Department report on trafficking in persons. "Senegal is a source and transit country for women and girls trafficked to Europe and the Middle East for sexual exploitation," the report concludes, but the government was "making significant efforts" to eliminate the practice.
Senegal was placed in the category "Tier 2" in the global US report of trafficking in persons, meaning that the country did not comply with a US Act's minimum standards for the elimination of slave trafficking, but the government was making "significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance" with these standards. Next year, the US government will impose penalties in the form of withholding aid for countries judged not in compliance with the minimum standards. The report was recently presented by US Ambassador Nancy Ely-Raphel.
On Senegal, the report says that Nigerian criminal organisations were using the Senegalese capital Dakar as a transit point for "women trafficked for purposes of prostitution to Europe, especially Italy."
Further, Senegalese children were sometimes "held in conditions of involuntary servitude by some religious instructors in Senegal's larger cities," the report noted on slavery and slavery-like practices.
The official US assessment is that the Senegalese government "does not yet fully meet the minimum standards." However, it was making "significant efforts to do so."
Provisions of Senegalese criminal law did indeed prohibit abduction, hostage taking and the sale of persons, "but the penalties for committing those crimes are inadequate to combat trafficking," the report assesses.
Senegal had however had some success in law enforcement. A high profile attempt to traffic Senegalese women to Libya was prevented, and trial is pending in the case. This year, the Senegalese police responded to the allegations of an escaped Nigerian trafficking victim with several arrests.
- Land border control is weak and corruption among officials is a problem, the report notes, confirming information recently published in Senegal.
The Senegalese government did support related prevention programs to raise the status of women in society, promote the rights of the child and encourage public education. Over the past three years, the government had cooperated with several United Nations' information campaigns on child labour, sexual exploitation and sexual exploitation of children.
Senegal further was actively cooperating with several UN programs, as well as with non-government organisations (NGOs), to assess the trafficking problem in the country. In January 2002, government representatives had also attended a seminar organised by NGOs to discuss trafficking. Senegal also hosted a regional meeting of experts to discuss trafficking in persons.
Presenting the global report, US Secretary of State Colin Powell was quoted by the US press saying that his country was resolved "to stop this appalling assault on the dignity of men, women and children," that victimises an estimated 700,000 to 4 million people a year worldwide through coercion and outright kidnapping.
The other African countries labelled as "Tier 2" in the US report on trafficking of persons are Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda. The only African country in the 19-members group of "Tier 3" - which are "not making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance" - was Sudan, where slavery and slave raiding is widespread.
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