EGYPT: Tier 2
The Government of Egypt does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Egypt remained on Tier 2. The government identified more victims through the national anti-trafficking hotline, it updated, implemented, and identified points of contact to better implement the National Victim Referral Mechanism, and it signed an interagency protocol to establish a shelter for trafficking victims. The government continued to prosecute and convict alleged traffickers, and the National Coordinating Committee on Preventing and Combating Illegal Migration (NCCPIM & TIP) continued to coordinate inter-ministerial anti-trafficking efforts. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not report referring or assisting the large majority of trafficking victims it identified during the reporting period. The government remained without effective victim identification and referral procedures; as a result, authorities may have penalized identified and unidentified victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit, such as immigration violations. As in the previous reporting period, the government continued to lack appropriate protection services, including shelters, for victims of all forms of trafficking, and it did not provide in-kind support or funding to civil society organizations that provided essential victim care.
Although the government had legal guidelines for evidence collection, prosecution of trafficking cases, and victim protection, relevant authorities did not fully implement the guidelines during the reporting period and continued to cooperate with an international organization to update them. In 2018, the NCCPIM & TIP and other governmental agencies—in cooperation with international organizations—provided several trainings to hundreds of police officers, judges, prosecutors, social workers, and civil society representatives. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) continued to include anti-trafficking educational materials as a part of its annual trainings and curriculum for new police officers. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense also included anti-trafficking modules in basic trainings for officials.
The government’s provision of appropriate protection services to victims of all forms of trafficking remained weak. The government remained without shelter or other essential rehabilitative services specifically dedicated to the needs of trafficking victims. Thirty-three government-run shelters for other vulnerable populations were reportedly available to adult and child trafficking victims, some of which could serve foreign victims; however, observers reported that shelter services were poor and some were reluctant to place victims in those shelters due to safety concerns and fear of re-traumatizing the victim due to lack of staff training and inadequate assistance available. In October 2018, the government signed an interagency protocol to establish a shelter for Egyptian female and child trafficking victims and requested funding for such a shelter, scheduled to open in 2020. The shelter would not be available for foreign trafficking victims, despite recommendations from civil society to allow foreign victims care at this shelter. The Ministry of Social Solidarity continued to operate 17 mobile units that provided legal, medical, psychological, and social services to street children, a population highly vulnerable to trafficking; in 2018, the units assisted 14,671 children, but the government did not report if the units identified or referred to protection services any potential child trafficking victims among this population. An NGO—in partnership with the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM)—reportedly operated a daytime center for the rehabilitation of trafficking victims, but the government did not report if any trafficking victims received care at this center. The government continued to rely on international and civil society organizations to provide and fund victim assistance, but it did not—in turn—provide financial assistance to these organizations, which affected their ability to offer protective services to victims. Moreover, Egypt’s Law on Non Governmental Organizations hindered legal approvals and registrations for NGOs operating in Egypt, thereby impeding their efforts to provide essential services to victims.
The anti-trafficking law guaranteed protection of witnesses of trafficking crimes. NCCPIM & TIP reported the MOI allowed foreign trafficking victims residency status, but it did not report providing this status to any victims during the reporting period. During the reporting period, Egyptian authorities coordinated with the Embassy of the Republic of the Congo (ROC) to assist a Beninese child trafficking victim to return home to the ROC. During the reporting period, the government reported the Egyptian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon assisted an unknown number of Egyptian nationals, who were fraudulently recruited and falsely promised employment by a recruitment agency in Lebanon leaving them vulnerable to trafficking. The embassy helped some of them find jobs or assisted in legalizing their status in Lebanon, while the Lebanese government deported some of them back to Egypt; the government did not report if any of those that were deported received reintegration assistance or other social services upon their return to Egypt.
The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, but it reported that it began to develop a strategy to stop forged marriage contracts in order to reduce the incidents of “summer marriages” of girls by foreign tourists for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The government continued efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor. During the reporting period, the government issued 6,663 formal warnings for labor violations and filed 602 violation reports. Concerning Egyptian nationals employed abroad, the government reported it investigated 139 labor complaints, inspected 817 recruitment agencies, and filed 155 reports of labor violations. In the absence of labor law protections for domestic workers, authorities implemented a labor contract—approved in February 2018—that employers could choose to use, which offered some protections for Egyptian domestic workers, but it did not provide protections for foreign domestic workers.
Traffickers subject men and women from South and Southeast Asia and East Africa to forced labor in domestic service, construction, cleaning, and begging. In 2017, observers reported an increase in West African migrant trafficking victims, although it was unclear if this was the result of increased victim identification or an actual increase in numbers. Foreign domestic workers—who are not covered under Egyptian labor laws—from Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka are highly vulnerable to forced labor, experiencing excessive working hours, confiscation of passports, withheld wages, denial of food and medical care, and physical and psychological abuse. Traffickers subject women and girls, including refugees and migrants, from Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East to sex trafficking in Egypt. In 2018, an international organization reported a new trend of Colombian nationals who are smuggled into Egypt to work in the entertainment industry; these individuals may be vulnerable to sex trafficking. Syrian refugees who have settled in Egypt remain increasingly vulnerable to exploitation, including forced child labor, sex trafficking, and transactional marriages of girls—which can lead to sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking, and forced labor. Irregular migrants and asylum-seekers from the Horn of Africa, who transit Egypt en route to Europe, are increasingly vulnerable to exploitation along this migration route.
From 2007 to 2017, criminal groups in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula subjected thousands of African migrants to forced labor and sexual servitude, smuggling, abduction, and extortion. According to victim testimonies collected by an Israeli NGO, between November 2015 and April 2016, Bedouin groups forced approximately 61 Sudanese asylum-seekers to work in agriculture, tree lumbering, and marijuana growing; these groups physically abused the victims, including beatings and deprivation of food and water, and extorted money from them for their release. International organizations based in Egypt observed the flow of migrants into the Sinai declined substantially in 2015, due in part to Egyptian military operations, and Israeli NGOs reported the flow of African migrants arriving in Israel from the Sinai stopped in 2017.