Ivory Coast Sentences Five Traffickers After Raid on Cocoa Farms

Ivory Coast sentenced five child-traffickers to 20 years in prison after a raid earlier this month on cocoa farms in the West African nation.

Among them is the uncle of a 15-year-old Burkina Faso national, Ivory Coast Police Commissioner Luc Zaka said by phone on Wednesday. The boy was rescued from a plantation during the May 6-7 operation in the southwestern town of Soubre, he said.

Seventeen other people were handed five-year sentences for their role in supporting the use of child labor, while two were released, Zaka said.

The world’s top cocoa producer is under increasing pressure to clamp down on children being forced to work on farms before the European Union introduces sustainability laws later this year.

The EU is the leading destination for Ivorian beans, accounting for 67% of the nation’s cocoa exports, with its consumers becoming increasingly conscious of where and how products are sourced. The proposed laws aim to protect forests, curb child labor and end farmer poverty.

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