4 November 2022: France, Algeria, Guinea

In a case that demonstrates the great risks faced by migrants that resort to smugglers, an eight-year-old boy has been rescued by law enforcement after being kidnapped by fellow migrants and held for ransom. The boy and his mother had left Côte d’Ivoire in early 2021, hoping to make the journey to Europe. They travelled to Tunisia, where a smuggler promised to help them and a group of Guinean migrants cross the Mediterranean Sea. Instead, the smuggler took their money and disappeared. In October 2021, convinced that the mother and smuggler had been accomplices since they shared the same nationality, the other migrants kidnapped the then seven-year-old boy and demanded $3,000 for his safe return. After the boy’s mother reported the kidnapping to authorities in Côte d’Ivoire, the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in Abidjan turned to INTERPOL’s Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants (HTSM) unit for assistance. Authorities in Algeria located the boy and arrested one suspect in the outskirts of Algiers. A medical screening confirmed that the child had not suffered any direct physical violence or sexual abuse during the ordeal. In parallel, Guinean police located and arrested the suspect who had sent the ransom demand to the boy’s mother.