The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and does not appear to be making sufficient efforts to do so.
The government took some steps to address trafficking, including measures to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers, holding officials complicit in child soldiering accountable, and cooperating with international organizations and NGOs to identify and demobilize child soldiers. The government also continued efforts to combat sexual exploitation and certify mines to prevent the use of forced and child labour. However, the government made negligible efforts to investigate, prosecute, or convict offenders of sex trafficking, as distinct from other sexual crimes, or labour trafficking. Lack of an anti-trafficking framework, capacity, funding, and widespread corruption continued to hinder efforts to combat all forms of human trafficking throughout the country.
The DRC is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. In 2016, several armed groups continued to abduct and forcibly recruit Congolese men, women, and children as combatants and in support roles, such as guards, porters, cleaners, cooks, messengers, spies, and tax collectors at mining sites; women and girls were forced to marry or serve as sex slaves for members of some armed groups. Some children were also forced to commit crimes for their captors, such as looting and extortion.
Abductions for recruitment by the Lord’s Resistance Army continues with some recruited from refugee camps. Child soldiers who were separated from armed groups and reintegrated into society remain vulnerable to re- recruitment, as adequate rehabilitation services do not exist for children suffering severe psychological trauma. Stigmatization may interfere with community reintegration, and armed groups continue to recruit children.
Some men, women, and children working in artisanal mines in eastern DRC are subjected to forced labour, including debt bondage, by mining bosses, other miners, family members, government officials, and armed groups. Some children are subjected to forced labour in the illegal mining of diamonds, copper, gold, cobalt, tungsten ore, tantalum ore, and tin, as well as the smuggling of minerals.
Widespread abuse, including forced labour, of some children in artisanal cobalt mines in southern DRC is reported with some children working extremely long hours and suffering physical abuse by security guards employed by the state mining company. Children are also vulnerable to forced labour in small-scale agriculture, domestic work, street begging, vending, and portering. Some street children are suspected to be forced to participate in illicit drug transactions and exploited in sex trafficking
Children from the Republic of the Congo may transit through the DRC en route to Angola or South Africa, where they may be subjected to domestic servitude. Some Congolese women and girls subjected to forced marriage are highly vulnerable to domestic servitude or sex trafficking. Congolese women and children migrate to other countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, where some are exploited in sex trafficking, domestic servitude, or forced labour in agriculture and diamond mines. Some women may be fraudulently recruited and forced into domestic servitude abroad through false promises of education or employment opportunities.
Many on-line reports can be found testifying to the extent of trafficking , slavery, bonded and forced labour, sex slavery etc.
The DRC does not have any anti-trafficking law, nor do existing laws criminalize all forms of human trafficking; the lack of a legal framework contributes to officials’ lack of understanding of trafficking and their conflation of it with other crimes, such as illegal international adoption. Adult forced labour is not criminalized under Congolese law, although the Constitution prohibits involuntary servitude. The 2006 sexual violence statute (Law 6/018) prohibits sexual slavery, sex trafficking, and child and forced prostitution and prescribes penalties ranging from five to 20 years imprisonment.
The Child Protection Law 09/001 prohibits forced child labour, child prostitution, and the use of children in illicit activities, and prescribes penalties of 10 to 20 years imprisonment for sexual slavery; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with other serious crimes. Forced child labour, debt bondage, and child commercial sexual exploitation carry penalties of one to three years imprisonment, which are not sufficiently stringent. The enlistment of persons younger than 18 years old into the armed forces and the police carries penalties of 10 to 20 years imprisonment.
Corruption remained a hindrance to adequately punishing trafficking offenders.