The United States and Côte d’Ivoire recently launched the “Child Protection Compact Partnership Activities” which is aimed at addressing child sex trafficking and forced child labor in Côte d’Ivoire.
First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire Dominique Ouattara, United States Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire Jessica Davis Ba, Deputy Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Bryan Marcus, the Minister of Employment and Social Protection Adama Kamara, and the Minister of Solidarity and the Fight Against Poverty Myss Belmonde Dogo were all present at the ceremony to implement the partnership between Côte d’Ivoire and the United States of America for child protection, in early September 2023, in Cocody, Côte d’Ivoire.
On December 7, 2022, the Child Protection Partnership (CPC) was signed between the United States of America and Côte d’Ivoire. The ceremony marked the implementation phase of this agreement. The Child Protection Compact (CPC) is a U.S. government aid program worth up to 10 million U.S. dollars, or around 5 billion CFA francs, to combat child trafficking. The focus of the partnership is to build the capacity of government bodies, civil society organizations and public international organizations to combat child trafficking. The objective is also to intensify Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts to meet the needs of child victims of trafficking, as well as children who are vulnerable or at risk of trafficking, in order to eliminate the phenomenon in the country.
The agreement is scheduled to run for five years.
Following a call for applications, the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Save The Children were selected to lead the implementation phase of the child protection partnership. The University of Massachusetts Lowell will conduct a study to provide accurate information on human trafficking in Côte d’Ivoire. Save The Children, for its part, will be responsible for implementing the activities of the child protection pact.
The First Lady, Ms Dominique Ouattara, who has been involved in child protection for several decades, welcomed the official launch of the partnership’s activities as she strongly feels the implementation of programs will enable Côte d’Ivoire to step up its actions to protect children. “Today, I am happy to see we are launching the implementation phase of our agreement, which will enable Côte d’Ivoire to intensify its efforts in the fight against human trafficking, particularly with regard to children and young girls, thanks to funding from the American Government”, she said at the ceremony.
She also went on to say that child protection has always been at the heart of her concerns as she recalled her commitment to the fight against trafficking, exploitation and child labor for several years. “The issue of child protection has always been at the heart of my concerns. As you know, child labor is a global issue, and our country, Côte d’Ivoire, is unfortunately no exception. And for several years now, we have been fighting relentlessly against trafficking, exploitation and child labor within our borders, to eradicate this phenomenon”, she recalled. Dominique Ouattara recalled the creation of the Oversight Committee for Actions against Child Trafficking, Exploitation and Labor (CNS), Inter Ministerial Committee to Combat Child Trafficking, Exploitation and Labor (CIM) and the National Committee for the Fight against Human Trafficking (CNLTP), to take care of adults who are victim of human trafficking.
Côte d’Ivoire currently has in place a legal framework to criminalize the perpetrators of human trafficking and protect the victims. The first lady recalled the laws of September 30, 2010 prohibiting trafficking and the worst forms of child labor; the law of December 8, 2016 on the fight against human trafficking; and finally that of June 13, 2018 repressing the illicit trafficking of migrants.
In addition, the President of the CNS recalled in the context of repression, the creation in 2019 of six (06) special police brigades responsible for close surveillance throughout the national territory, in order to apprehend traffickers. “Thanks to the implementation of these legal and regulatory provisions, from 2012 to date, more than 200,000 vulnerable children and victims of trafficking and exploitation have been rescued, and more than 1,000 child traffickers have been apprehended, brought before the courts and prosecuted,” revealed Ms Dominique Ouattara.
This pact represents another sign of a steadily growing relationship between Côte d’Ivoire and the United States. Early this year in June, agreements signed between the African country and Cybastion Institute of Technology, a consortium of companies based in the U.S and member of U.S Chamber of Commerce for Cote d’Ivoire to have its own national Data center and administrative digital city.
That is also in addition to further deals between both countries in the areas of agriculture, education and marine resources being lined up for announcement before the end of the year.