Northern Africa

Countries and territories covered: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Sudan, United Arab Emirates

1. Status of the legislation on trafficking in persons

Among the North African and Middle Eastern countries covered by this report, at the time of publication of the Global Report only Bahrain, Israel, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (all from the Middle East sub-region) had included a specific offence of trafficking in persons in their criminal codes and criminalized, at a minimum, sexual exploitation and forced labour, with no restrictions concerning the age of the victim.

Egypt specifically criminalized child trafficking in June 2008. The legislation of Morocco includes the offence of trafficking in persons in its criminal code, but the legislation does not include a definition. Similarly, Sudan reported the adoption of an offence of trafficking in persons as part of its 2007 cyber crime legislation, but the law does not specifically define trafficking in persons. The Iraqi legislation criminalizes trafficking in women and children. The United Arab Emirates introduced legislation in 2006, as did Bahrain in 2008, and Israel added a forced labour component to its existing anti-trafficking law in 2006.

As a result of the general absence of national legislation on trafficking in persons during the reporting period, criminal justice systems within the MENA region tended to rely on other laws to prosecute trafficking cases. This situation, however, is also common in countries such as Israel, where specific anti-trafficking legislation exists. Most of the countries of the MENA region included in this report have legislation on related crimes or partial aspects of the crime, such as sexual exploitation, pandering and segregation.

2. The criminal justice response to trafficking in persons

There is a scarcity of criminal justice statistics in this region. Only Israel and Morocco have had the specific offence of trafficking in persons in their criminal codes long enough to analyze trends in their criminal justice responses. Trafficking trends were fairly stable in both countries during the reporting period.

Egypt and Oman, as well as other countries in the region, adopted offences related to trafficking to prosecute some forms of trafficking in persons. The number of persons investigated in these countries decreased during the reporting period. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain adopted comprehensive legislation on trafficking in persons after 2006, and convictions were recorded in both countries, but criminal justice trends could not be identified at the time of the publication of this report.

3. Trafficking in persons patterns

A large proportion of traffickers detected in the region during the reporting period were males, and a significant number of persons convicted of trafficking or trafficking-related offences were nationals of the countries where the trafficking took place. However, offenders from South and East Asia also were investigated, prosecuted or convicted in Middle Eastern destination countries.

Information concerning victims of trafficking in persons and related crimes was scarce, making it impossible to identify patterns and trends. Based on available data, the number of victims indentified or sheltered decreased in some countries in the region, while it remained stable in others.

Most of the identified victims were adult females, with adult men and child victims identified or assisted in just a few countries. Information on the type of exploitation showed victims trafficked for forced labour in Israel and Qatar, while victims of sexual exploitation were reported throughout the region. Victims of trafficking for organ removal were recorded in Israel and Egypt.