Tunisian authorities said it has registered alarming figures regarding human trafficking in 2017, with more than 1,480 cases of underage victims last year.
The number of Tunisian victims of human trafficking examined in 2017 by the country's National Agency for the Fight Against Human Trafficking (INLCTP) is 742, 70 of whom were minors, 100 foreigners, according to the agency's president, Raoudha Laabidi.
She spoke at a conference organized by the criminal science laboratory at El Manar University in Tunis, and said that the victims are primarily subjected to "domestic slavery and forced labour" as well as "economic and sexual exploitation."
The agency helped 66 foreign victims of trafficking return to their countries of origin with a specific support programme for their return.
Record number of underage victims in 2017
Tunisia's general delegate for the protection of children's rights, Mehyar Hamadi, said the total number of child victims of trafficking reviewed in 2017 totals more than 1,480 cases: 1,087 for sexual exploitation, 308 for economic exploitation, and 86 victims of organised crime.
"It's the highest number registered in Tunisia in recent years," said Hamadi. To fight the problem, the Tunisian Parliament last year approved a law on the prevention and fight against human trafficking. Then, in February 2017, it established a Committee for the Fight Against Human Trafficking (ILCTP).
Some articles of the law that most severely sanction those who commit the crime of human trafficking include up to 10 years in prison and 50,000 euros in fines. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has also been heavily engaged for years in fighting the problem, in close collaboration with local authorities.