Benin detains 10 people in child trafficking probe

COTONOU Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:51pm EDT

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COTONOU (Reuters) - Benin has detained 10 people on suspicions of child-trafficking just weeks after a group in neighboring Niger was held for links to a "baby factory" ring, police sources said on Tuesday.

While it was not immediately clear if there was a connection between the two cases, the latest detentions point to the persistence of human trafficking across West Africa.

"There have been around 10 people detained in the civil prison since last week," said Ghislaine Bokovo, director of the Benin police force's central office for child protection.

Bokovo did not give further details of this case, such as the age of the children, citing judicial secrecy for an ongoing investigation.

But she said trafficked children in the region were typically sold either for use in voodoo practices or to crooked adoption agencies.

Martial Degbessou, from the Porto-Novo police division, said people operating in trafficking networks often purported to be holding children on behalf of a nongovernmental organization.

He said his division was familiar with the problem of child sales since his town is a stopover point for traffickers on the way to next-door Nigeria.

"Once they (the children) arrive in Nigeria, they are sold at a very high price, often between 20 million CFA Francs ($41,000) and 30 million CFA Francs ($62,000) per child," he said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

Authorities in Niger have detained 17 people, including wives of senior politicians, after an investigation by Niger's police into 30 people suspected of acquiring new-born babies from "baby factories" in Nigeria, two legal sources said last month.

(Reporting by Samuel Elijah; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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