First Lady Dominique Ouattara, President of the Oversight Cpmmittee for Actions against Child Trafficking, Exploitation and Labor (CNS), presided over the ceremony to implement the partnership between Côte d’Ivoire and the United States of America for child protection, on Thursday, September 21, 2023, in Cocody.
Child protection : Côte d’Ivoire and the United States of America join forces
The ceremony wich took place at the Office of the First Lady witnessed the presence of Mr. Adama Kamara, Minister of Employment and Social Protection and Chairman of the Interministerial Committee for the Fight against Trafficking, Exploitation and Child Labor (CIM); Ms Nassénéba Touré, Minister for Women, the Family and Children and Vice-President of the CIM, and Ms Myss Belmonde Dogo, Minister for Solidarity and the Fight against Poverty and Executive Secretary of the National Committee for the Fight against Human Trafficking.
The event also witnessed the participation of Jessica Davis Ba, Ambassador of the United States of America to Côte d’Ivoire; Bryan Marcus, Deputy Director of the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking; and several other personalities and stakeholders involved in the fight against child labor and the protection of children’s rights.
On December 7, 2022, the Child Protection Partnership (CPC) was signed between the United States of America and Côte d’Ivoire. This ceremony marks, so to speak, 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 runs for 5 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. For the wife of the Head of State, 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”, said the First Lady, Ms Dominique Ouattara. The First Lady went on to say that child protection has always been at the heart of her concerns. In this sense, the wife of the Head of State recalled her commitment to the fight against trafficking, exploitation and child labor for several years now. “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. The First Lady, Ms Dominique Ouattara recalled the creation of the Oversight Cpmmittee for Actions against Child Trafficking, Exploitation and Labor (CNS), Interministerial 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.
200,000 vulnerable children rescued from 2012 to date
Côte d’Ivoire also has a legal arsenal to criminalize the perpetrators of human trafficking and protect the victims. In this context, she 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. Still on the subject of cracking down on traffickers and protecting trafficked children, the First Lady mentioned the construction by her Foundation of three (03) reception centers in Soubré, Ferkessédougou and Bouaké. In terms of prevention, Côte d’Ivoire has made schooling compulsory from age 6 to 16, and the Ivorian government and its partners have also built thousands of classrooms to keep children as far away as possible from the risk of exploitation which is linked to school dropping out. Awareness-raising campaigns, the various agreements signed with the First Ladies of Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana in 2011, 2013 and 2016, and finally, in 2017, the organization of a conference that brought together 14 First Ladies from West Africa and the Sahel to foster a shared commitment on the issue of child trafficking are the measures presented by the First Lady on the occasion of this ceremony. However, for the latter, the large migratory flows to Côte d’Ivoire in recent years make it difficult to manage actions on the ground. “We receive large numbers of families from neighboring countries. And this situation is slowing down the deployment of policies and joint initiatives to combat the phenomenon of child labor in our sub-region”, said Ms Dominique Ouattara. Faced with this situation, Ms Dominique Ouattara welcomed the implementation of this partnership, which marks the beginning of effective cooperation to protect children. “We are aware that much remains to be done. That’s why I’d like to welcome today the implementation of this partnership, which marks the beginning of effective cooperation between the United States of America and Côte d’Ivoire to protect our children”, she said.
Me Adama Kamara, Minister of Employment and Social Protection and Chairman of the Interministerial Committee for the Fight against Child Trafficking, Exploitation and Labor (CIM), also presented the range of actions undertaken by the Ivorian government to remedy the phenomenon of child trafficking. Minister Adama Kamara welcomed the launch of the child protection partnership. He said that the partnership represents a major step forward in the fight against human trafficking. For Kamara, trafficking is multi-faceted and cross-border, so it is important that the fight against it should also be open-ended.
Ms Myss Belmonde Dogo, Minister for Solidarity and the Fight against Poverty and Executive Secretary of the National Committee for the Fight against Human Trafficking (CNLTP), also presented the measures and achievements of the government to combat human trafficking.
H.E. Mr. Davis Ba, Ambassador of the United States of America to Côte d’Ivoire, welcomed the partnership. For her, nothing is too much to protect children in the sense that they deserve our protection.
Bryan Marcus, Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking, also welcomed the partnership which will enable Côte d’Ivoire to step up its actions against human trafficking.
Ms Yao Patricia Sylvie, Executive Secretary of the CNS, presented the context and objectives of the ceremony to launch the implementation of the Child Protection Compact partnership agreement between Côte d’Ivoire and the United States of America.
Following the launch ceremony, workshops will be held from September 21 to 22, 2023 to launch the partnership.