By Samuel Ouma
Cote d’Ivore First Lady Dominique Ouattara, on December 7, 2022, presided over the signing ceremony of a partnership for child protection with the U.S. Government.
The ceremony, which took place at the Office of the First Lady, was attended by a U.S. delegation led by Chargé d’Affaires to Côte d’Ivoire Joann M. Lockard and a section of Cote D’Ivore ministers.
The partnership will support the Ivoirian government’s efforts to address child sex trafficking and forced child labor in a sustainable and coordinated manner with national stakeholders and civil society organizations.
The agreement was signed after months of negotiations between representatives of the Côte d’Ivoire government and the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office).
With the signing of the CPC Partnership, the United States will provide up to $10 million to nongovernmental and international organizations that will collaborate with relevant Ivoirian government ministries and the TIP Office to implement the action plan developed to achieve the CPC Partnership’s objectives.
The objectives are ensuring prevention efforts are better coordinated and targeted across the country and providing protection services readily accessible to child trafficking victims using a trauma-informed and victim-centered approach.
Others are ensuring justice sector actors utilize existing trafficking-specific legal frameworks to identify child trafficking victims, investigate cases, and prosecute and convict perpetrators of child trafficking in a child-friendly, victim-centered, and trauma-informed manner; and promoting coordination across relevant ministries, civil society, local communities, and foreign counterparts.
“Indeed, our country has met the selection criteria to receive a grant from the U.S. Government of up to 10 million dollars, to combat child trafficking,” said First Lady Dominique Ouattara.
The First Lady thanked the American Government for the support, saying it will strengthen the capacities of existing governmental bodies in Côte d’Ivoire, civil society organizations, and international organizations to fight against child trafficking effectively.
“This new step in our common commitment to child protection is all the more encouraging, as the program, as it has been designed, perfectly matches the vision of Côte d’Ivoire in terms of planning actions to fight against trafficking, exploitation, and child labor in our country,” added Dominique Ouattara.
She further revealed that the country’s National Oversight Committee for a fight against trafficking, exploitation, and child labor and the Interministerial Committee for a fight against child labor are planning interventions through national action plans to solve this problem sustainably.
These action plans are organized around three main areas, including prevention through public awareness campaigns, training and capacity building of the various actors, as well as the creation of basic social infrastructures, protection of child victims, with the construction of reception centers for the reintegration and resocialization of children taken from the hands of traffickers, as well as the establishment and improvement of child protection systems in Côte d’Ivoire.
There is also repression of child traffickers, which includes adopting specific laws to fight against child trafficking, strengthening the capacities of defense and security forces, and organization of police operations in risk areas to dismantle child traffickers’ networks.