SOCIETY

Madagascar fails to improve its policy against Trafficking in Persons

 

Lost children, missing adults, murders, rape, brutality or any form of modern slave, the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report was launched officially two days ago in Washington DC. Despite expanding child protection network and by working at the regional level to combat child sex trafficking, Malagasy government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. For 2017, Madagascar downgrades to Tier 2 Watch List.  Compared to 2016 TIP report, Madagascar, hasn’t demonstrated increasing efforts but instead decreased efforts to prosecute and convict suspected traffickers. And though there were increased reports of alleged complicity during the year, it didn’t hold any complicit officials accountable nor investigate reports of officials facilitating child sex trafficking.

 

More efforts to protect vulnerable population

 

Madagascar government lacks of formal procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and don’t systematically provide services to all victims or make efforts to raise awareness. Besides, no funding is available to the National Office to Combat Trafficking, the agency designated to lead national efforts, raise awareness and implement the national action plan.

 

Data inaccuracy

 

During the reporting period, malagasy government said to have identified 117 victims, an increase of 334 % compared to 2016. An NGO identified and assisted 415 victims; however, due to a lack of coordinated data collection at the national level, these numbers may be inexact. The government reported housing 35 child trafficking victims in a children’s shelter and repatriating 70 transnational trafficking victims, six of whom received additional care; this compared to 35 sheltered and 60 repatriated in the previous year. The Government of Seychelles reported intercepting 16 potential female trafficking victims from Madagascar en route to Kuwait and coordinated with Malagasy authorities to repatriate them to Madagascar. The police reported identifying 56 victims, to whom they provided temporary shelter in police stations, given the lack of alternative options for adequate accommodation. The government also reported identifying 20 child trafficking victims from a list of 777 complaints.

 

Protecting women workers in the Middle East

 

The Ministry of Population offers transnational trafficking victims psychological support through a social worker employed by the ministry, and financial and socio-economic support for re- integration in partnership with an international organization, as well as medical care and legal assistance.  During the reporting period, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated, but did not fund, the repatriation of 70 transnational victims from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, China, Comoros, and Thailand. The Ministry of Population provided six of the transnational victims with psychological and medical care, with one victim referred to a vocational training center and the other five receiving financial support, it is unclear if the remainder of repatriated victims received assistance. Such efforts represent an increase from 60 victims repatriated in the previous reporting period.

 

In addition, the Honorary Malagasy Consul in Lebanon reportedly inflated the cost of passport renewal for Malagasy workers who had completed their work contracts or were detained in prisons for being undocumented after passport confiscation by their employers and took no action to facilitate their release and return to Madagascar.

 

While the government initiated diplomatic discussions with Kuwait for the purpose of assisting transnational trafficking victims in domestic servitude, such efforts had limited effect in facilitating the protection of and legal remedies for exploited Malagasy workers in Kuwait and other destination countries. An NGO reported that trafficking victims continued to return from the Middle East, where they had been subjected to various forms of abuse while working in domestic service. Upon repatriation, the vast majority of Malagasy trafficking victims arrived destitute and in need of psychological and medical services. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs systematically informs the Ministry of Population of the repatriated victims, who will contact the victims upon return and refer them to NGOs for assistance, but reports indicate most victims are reluctant to accept assistance.

 

A 2013 ban on domestic worker travel to Gulf countries remained in place; however, illicit recruitment agencies circumvented the ban by sending workers through Mauritius, Kenya, Comoros, and South Africa … Reports indicate Malagasy workers in Lebanon are victims of various forms of abuse by their employers, such as physical violence and confiscation of passports, which might have been a factor in their subsequent imprisonment. Other malagasy women are sent by persons acting as informal placement agents to China with falsified identity cards, exploited in forced labor then sold as brides.

Published on Thursday, 29 June 2017 09:08
Written by F. RAFIDIHARINIRINA