Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), 4 May 2023 – Human trafficking – the use of men, women, and children for profit – is a crime that occurs in every corner of the globe, and Burkina Faso is no exception.
Located in West Africa, Burkina Faso is a country of origin, transit, and destination for trafficking in persons. 92.5 per cent of those trafficked - including children – are forced to work, namely in the mining, agriculture, and domestic sectors, while the rest are sexually exploited.
The population displacement and humanitarian crisis brought on by the country’s security situation is exacerbating the problem. Internally displaced persons and refugees are vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking in persons – including by violent extremist groups. Indeed, according to the National Report on Trafficking in Persons (2019) of the Ministry of Solidarity, Humanitarian Action, National Reconciliation, Gender and Family, security forces identified an alarming 49 per cent of migrants as potential victims of trafficking.
Unfortunately, few cases reach the criminal justice system or are investigated, and the situation may be growing even more urgent, with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) recent Global Report on Trafficking in Persons noting that victims from sub-Saharan Africa are being increasingly identified in a wider range of destination countries.
The Government of Burkina Faso has made several efforts to fight trafficking in persons, including by reforming its legislation and providing protection to victims, particularly children. However, the lack of coordination between institutions and the absence of strategic planning jeopardized the efforts, leading the country to request UNODC’s assistance.
Therefore, with UNODC’s technical support, funding from the United States and Netherlands, Burkina Faso developed its first National Action Plan against trafficking in persons. The Plan was signed by the Minister of Solidarity, Humanitarian Action, National Reconciliation, Gender and Family, on 29 March 2023 in Ouagadougou.
By the end of 2025, the National Action Plan aims to have created an effective national system to combat human trafficking through prevention, care for victims, and prosecution of perpetrators.
“The plan will hopefully allow the country to provide further support to victims, for instance by constructing shelters and transit centers for vulnerable migrants and potential trafficking victims,” said Alline Pedra Jorge, UNODC Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer. “It will also allow the country to prosecute and investigate more traffickers, once law enforcement, prosecutors and judicial authorities have their capacities (technical and operational) enhanced.”
Over the past five years in West Africa, UNODC has supported the governments of Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal to draft their own action plans against trafficking in persons. UNODC has also supported the preparation and monitoring of plans of action against trafficking in persons in Brazil, Tanzania, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Human trafficking and migrant smuggling are global and widespread crimes that use men, women and children for profit. The organized networks or individuals behind these lucrative crimes take advantage of people who are vulnerable, desperate or simply seeking a better life. UNODC strives for the eradication of these crimes through the dismantling of the criminal enterprises that trade in people and the conviction of the main perpetrators. Ultimately, our work safeguards people from the abuse, neglect, exploitation or even death that is associated with these crimes. For more information, click here.