The Government of the Republic of the Congo does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and does not appear to be making significant efforts to do so.
The government has never convicted any traffickers; several cases in prosecution have been pending for up to six years. Harassment of anti-trafficking activists, reportedly including police, inhibited their work. The lack of an inter-ministerial coordinating body and low understanding of anti-trafficking laws among government officials continued to hinder countrywide efforts to address internal trafficking and sex trafficking from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other countries.
The high court has never convened to hear a trafficking case.
The government did not provide any anti-trafficking training for law enforcement during the reporting period due to a lack of funding.
There is a widespread perception of corruption throughout the government. Human trafficking activists reportedly faced harassment and threats from government officials, including police, which discouraged some civil society members and government officials from reporting trafficking cases.
The Republic of the Congo is a source and destination country for children, men, and women subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. A recently published report suggests that most trafficking victims in the Congo originate from Benin and the DRC, and to a lesser extent from other neighboring countries. Most foreign victims are subjected to forced labour in domestic service and market vending. Women and girls from Benin, ages 7 to 19, constituted the majority of identified trafficking victims in 2016, all of which endured forced labour. Both adults and children are victims of sex trafficking in the Congo, with most between the ages of 9 and 11. Girls and women from both the Republic of the Congo and the DRC are subjected to sex trafficking.
Internal trafficking involves recruitment from rural areas for exploitation in cities. The indigenous population is especially vulnerable to forced labour in agriculture. Indiginous Bantus are often forced to harvest manioc and other crops without pay and under the threat of physical abuse or death. Most children subjected to trafficking within the country migrate from rural to urban areas to serve as domestic workers for relatives or family friends.
Article 60, chapter 2 of the 2010 Child Protection Code prohibits the trafficking, sale, trading, and exploitation of children, for which article 115 prescribes penalties of hard labour for an undefined period of time and a fine.
Article 68 prohibits the worst forms of child labour, for which article 121 prescribes penalties between three and five years of imprisonment or fines of $1,608 to $16,084 for child sexual exploitation Article 122 prescribes penalties between three months and one year of imprisonment or fines of $80 to $804 for forced child labour.
Article 4 of the country’s labour code prohibits and penalizes forced or compulsory labour, but there are no penalties defined in the law.
Article 131 of the penal code prohibits forced prostitution and carries penalties between two and five years of imprisonment and fines between $1,608 to $16,084.
Although Congolese law prohibits some forms of trafficking of adults, it does not outlaw bonded labour or the recruitment, harboring, transport, or provision of a person for the purposes of forced labour.
The government has signed but has not acceded to the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.