Ekstra Bladet set out to investigate whether trafficking of children is still widespread in spite of the chocolate industry’s insistence to the contrary.
We found the village of Kogho, deep in the bush of eastern Burkina Faso, where, according to its chief, Sampoko Ouadraogo, hundreds of children disappeared last year. Children under 16 who were all subjected to trafficking and ended up as slaves in the chocolate industry.
- How many children disappear from here every year?
- Around 400 to 450 children every year, said Sampoko Ouadraogo.
The children end up as slave labourers in the cocoa fields of Ivory Coast, which is the world’s biggest cocoa producer and supplies the cocoa for the chocolate that you eat.
- We know of cases where children have been subjected to trafficking, then after two years’ hard labour are cheated and thrown off the cocoa plantation without being paid any money. This is very common, Sampoko Ouadraogo told Ekstra Bladet.
A whole industry promised sanctions and improvements. The trafficking of young children from the neighbouring countries of Mali and Burkina Faso was a particular focus area. But since then it appears nothing has been done.
- The problem is very big, Justine Ouedraogo, the mayor of Kogho’s 16,000 or so villagers, told Ekstra Bladet.
- Firstly, a large number of children are disappearing. Secondly, when they’ve been in Ivory Coast, they come back sick. Others die over there, said Justine Ouedraogo.
One of the children in question is 16-year-old Ado Ouedraogo. In May, he was arrested on a cocoa plantation in Ivory coast. He had been trafficked at the age of 12.
- Did you know that the cocoa you pick is used to make chocolate? Do you know what chocolate is?
- No, I don’t, said Ado Ouedraogo, who says that he received no money during the four years that he worked as an illegal child slave labourer.