Slavery in Cameroon

Overview

 

Cameroon is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking and a source country for men in forced labour. Child traffickers often use the promise of education or a better life in the city to convince rural parents to give their children over to an intermediary, who then exploits the children in sex trafficking or forced labour; traffickers also kidnap victims, as heightened public awareness of trafficking has led parents to be less willing to give their children to intermediaries. Sometimes relatives subject children to sex trafficking within the country.

 

Homeless children and orphans are especially vulnerable to trafficking. Teenagers and

adolescents from economically disadvantaged families are often lured to cities by the prospect of employment but are subjected to labour or sex trafficking. Cameroonian children are exploited

in domestic service, restaurants, begging or vending on streets and highways, artisanal gold mining, gravel quarries, fishing, animal breeding, and agriculture (on onion, cotton, tea and cocoa plantations), as well as in urban transportation assisting bus drivers and in construction as errand boys, laborers, or night watchmen.

 

Reports indicate that traditional religious leaders may subject individuals to hereditary slavery practices rooted in ancestral master-slave relationships in some northern chiefdoms. parents send young boys—known as talibes—to study at Quranic schools, where some are exploited in forced begging by corrupt teachers.

 

Roseline is a former slave who is now free because of her courage and the help of a good Samaritan. She grew up in Cameroon, Africa and when she was 14 she left her family to come to the United States, with the promise of education and opportunity. In reality ,she was forced to work as a domestic servant and nanny without any pay or respect. For two and a half years she endured physical and emotional abuse from her captors. Some people in the community even knew of her situation and did nothing to help her. They said they felt sorry for her but didn’t want to get involved.

 

The government maintained prevention efforts, but its inadequate provision of resources to national and regional coordinating bodies impeded coordination on anti-trafficking initiatives.

 

The Government of Cameroon does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; The government penalized trafficking victims for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; did not convict any individuals under the trafficking statute.

 

Legislation

 

The government incorporated its 2011 anti-trafficking law into the penal code as Section 342-1

government published the penal code. Section 342-1 prescribes penalties of 10 to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to US$ 1,608) for “slavery in persons,” which are sufficiently

stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape

 

The penalties for debt bondage - criminalized in Section 3(1) of the 2011 anti-trafficking law but

not explicitly criminalized in the penal code—range from five to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to US$ 804)

 

Draft legislation to address victim and witness protection and definitional inconsistencies with international law, drafted in 2012 in collaboration with an NGO and national and international

experts, has remained pending since.

 

 

Slavery in Cameroon