22 people jailed in Ivory Coast for trafficking children to cocoa farms

Twenty-two people have been jailed for trafficking children to work on Ivory Coast’s lucrative cocoa plantations, as reported by the police.

Five received jail sentence of 20 years, while the other 17 were given five years, the deputy director of the criminal police, Luc Zaka, said late Tuesday.

The convictions by the tribunal in Soubre, in the heart of the country’s cocoa-growing region in the west of the country, resulted from a swoop at the beginning of May. The two-day operation was the fifth to be carried out since 2009, involving around 100 members of the security forces as well as forestry officials, who rounded up 68 children.

Ivory Coast is the world’s top cocoa producer, dominating more than 40 percent of the market with an annual output of some two million tonnes of cacao.

Up to six-million people work in the cocoa sector, many from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso with an estimated 800,000 children.