Togo is a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The majority of Togolese victims are exploited within the country; forced child labor occurs in the agricultural sector—particularly on coffee, cocoa, and cotton farms—as well as in stone and sand quarries. Children from rural areas are brought to the capital Lome and forced to work as domestic servants, roadside vendors, and porters, or are exploited in prostitution. Near the Togo-Burkina Faso border, Togolese boys are forced into begging by corrupt religious teachers, known as marabouts. Togolese girls and, to a lesser extent, boys are transported to Benin, Gabon, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and forced to work in agriculture. Children from Benin and Ghana are recruited and transported to Togo for forced labor. Traffickers exploit Togolese men for forced labor in agriculture and Togolese women as domestic servants in Nigeria. Togolese women are fraudulently recruited for employment in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United States, and Europe, where they are subsequently subjected to domestic servitude or forced prostitution. In 2012, the United States government identified four Togolese children victimized in domestic servitude by a fellow Togolese national within the United States; the defendant was convicted in March 2013.
The Government of Togo does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In 2012, the government convicted at least nine trafficking offenders, identified a significant number of potential child trafficking victims, and continued to operate two shelters. However, it neither made progress in enacting draft legislation to prohibit the trafficking of adults, nor in identifying adult trafficking victims. Furthermore, it made no efforts to accurately track prosecution or protection data and disseminate it among government ministries.
Recommendations for Togo: Increase efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking offenders, including by using existing statutes to prosecute trafficking crimes committed against adults; complete and enact the draft law prohibiting the forced labor and forced prostitution of adults; develop a formal system to identify trafficking victims proactively and train law enforcement, immigration, and social welfare officials to identify such victims, especially among vulnerable populations; begin tracking the number of trafficking victims referred to NGOs or returned to their families; develop a system among law enforcement and judicial officials to track suspected human trafficking cases and prosecution data; ensure sufficient funds are allocated to operate the Tokoin and Oasis centers; and increase efforts to raise public awareness about the dangers of human trafficking.
The Government of Togo increased its law enforcement efforts against child trafficking during the year, but failed to make commensurate efforts to address the trafficking of adults. Togolese law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking—it does not criminalize the sex trafficking of adults — and laws against forced labor are inadequate with regard to definitions and prescribed penalties. The 2007 child code prohibits all forms of child trafficking and prescribes penalties of two to five years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent, but not commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The 2005 Law Related to Child Smuggling prescribes prison sentences of three months to 10 years for abducting, transporting, or receiving children for the purposes of exploitation. Article 4 of the 2006 labor code prohibits forced and compulsory labor, though its prescribed penalties of three to six months’ imprisonment are not sufficiently stringent, and its definition of forced or compulsory labor includes some exceptions. Despite six years of this Report recommending the enactment of legislation that criminalizes the trafficking of adults, the government has failed to do so; it did not take action during the reporting period to enact its draft legislation, which has remained pending since 2009.
The government reported its arrest of 290 suspected traffickers in 2012, a significant increase from the 23 arrested in 2011. This dramatic increase is likely due to the increased training of law enforcement officials in the previous reporting period, as well as training and raising the awareness of relevant transportation workers who, as a result, are better equipped to identify and report child trafficking. In Lome, the government prosecuted nine cases involving child trafficking and convicted nine trafficking offenders, with sentences ranging from one to 13 months’ imprisonment; it did not provide comprehensive data for law enforcement efforts made in the rest of the country. It did not report any investigations or prosecutions of public officials for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period.
During the past year, the government sustained efforts to provide modest protection to child trafficking victims, but showed no discernible efforts to protect adult victims. It did not put in place measures to identify trafficking victims among individuals in prostitution; however, it continued efforts to identify child victims of forced labor through increased education among immigration and law enforcement officials in border areas. As a result of these training efforts, during the reporting period, the government identified 717 potential victims of child trafficking; the majority of these children were intercepted and rescued prior to reaching their destinations, where they would likely face exploitation, typically as farms laborers or domestic servants. The government failed to identify any adult victims of trafficking. In Lome, the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) social workers continued to run a toll-free 24-hour helpline, Allo 10-11, which received an unknown number of calls regarding child trafficking and other forms of child abuse. The National Committee for the Reception and Social Reinsertion of Trafficked Children (CNARSEVT), Togo’s national anti-trafficking committee comprised of government officials and NGOs, continued to operate jointly with the police an ad hoc referral system to respond to hotlines tips and transfer rescued victims to appropriate shelters using a government-run mobile response unit. The MSA continued to operate two shelters; the Tokoin Community Center served as an intermediary shelter for child victims before transfer to care facilities managed by NGOs, while the Oasis Center provided shelter, legal, medical, and social services to child victims up to age 14. Officials also referred victims to several NGO-run shelters. The government did not report the number of trafficking victims cared for by these shelters during the reporting period. The government, in collaboration with a local NGO, developed a set of standard operating procedures for all shelters to ensure the safety and security of child victims. CNARSEVT managed the return of an unknown number of Togolese trafficking victims from abroad and reported their referral to shelters for assistance; it does not, however, have procedures in place to facilitate the return and reintegration of Togolese nationals in a systematic fashion. The government did not offer temporary or permanent residency status to foreign victims facing hardship or retribution upon return to their country of origin. Although there were no reports of child victims being penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, the government does not consider adults as trafficking victims and, therefore, some adult victims may remain unidentified in the law enforcement system.
The government sustained modest efforts to prevent trafficking during the year. In 2012, CNARSEVT received a budget allocation equivalent to approximately $60,500—a decrease from last year’s budget of $101,000—which it used to fund administrative costs and victim protection efforts. The MSA continued to meet directly with village and regional committees, border guards, and inspectors across the country to raise trafficking awareness. The government also used radio broadcasts to educate the population on the issue of child trafficking in Togo. In November 2012, it hosted a three day convention run by the International Bureau of Children’s Rights, which addressed law enforcement coordination on cases involving children, including trafficking cases. This training was attended by representatives from 24 countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Haiti. During the reporting period, the government collaborated with the ILO to develop a “Child Labor Monitoring System” (CLM), funded by a foreign donor, that trained regional teams comprised of labor inspectors, social workers, and education inspectors to monitor for vulnerable children and report any infractions of workplace regulations to the appropriate authorities. The implementation of the CLM resulted in the identification of 734 vulnerable children in 2012, some of whom were identified as trafficking victims. Despite a growing awareness of child sexual exploitation in Togo, the government did not take discernible measures to decrease the demand for commercial sex acts. However, the government acknowledged that child sex tourism is a problem in Togo and commissioned a study in 2012 on how to best combat it; the study had not been released at the close of the reporting period. The government provided anti-trafficking training to Togolese troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.