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, some religious teachers, known as marabouts, forced Togolese boys into begging. Children from Benin and Ghana are recruited and transported to Togo for forced labor. 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. 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.
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. The government reported increased numbers of investigations, prosecutions of alleged offenses, and convictions of traffickers in 2013 compared to the previous reporting period. It also identified and referred a greater number of child victims to protective services and continued to operate two shelters. Despite these efforts, the government has continued to fail to demonstrate any tangible efforts to address adult trafficking. It did not report any law enforcement efforts against adult trafficking cases, did not identify or provide any protection to adult victims, and did not make progress in enacting draft legislation to prohibit the trafficking of adults for the seventh year in a row.
Recommendations for Togo:
Enact the draft law prohibiting the forced labor and forced prostitution of adults; increase efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking offenders, including by using existing relevant statutes to prosecute trafficking crimes committed against adults; develop a formal system to identify trafficking victims proactively and train law enforcement, immigration, and social welfare officials to identify such victims, including adults; effectively track the number of trafficking victims who receive services from the government, are referred to NGOs, and/or are returned to their families; develop a system among law enforcement and judicial officials to track suspected human trafficking cases and prosecution data; allocate sufficient funds to operate the Tokoin and Oasis centers; and increase efforts to raise public awareness about the dangers of human trafficking, including the trafficking of adults.
The Government of Togo increased law enforcement efforts against child trafficking, but did not demonstrate tangible efforts to address adult trafficking during the reporting period. Togolese law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking or criminalize the sex trafficking of adults. 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 that constitute trafficking. 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’ imprisonment for abducting, transporting, or receiving children for the purposes of exploitation. Despite seven 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 85 investigations, 62 prosecutions, and 40 convictions of trafficking offenders, a significant increase from the nine prosecutions and nine convictions reported in 2012. This dramatic increase is likely due to more comprehensive data collection by the government, which only provided law enforcement data on trafficking crimes that occurred in Lome during the previous reporting period. Also, it is unclear how many of these cases actually involved trafficking charges, as the government was unable to provide the details of these cases. The government did not provide any trafficking-specific training to its law enforcement officials. The government 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 identify or protect any adult victims. The government reported its identification of 580 potential victims of child trafficking in 2013; 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 reported that all 580 children were referred to care facilities, although it is unclear how many were supported by government services. A government report on commercial child sexual exploitation found 1,533 children in prostitution; it failed to provide information regarding whether they were trafficking victims and whether they were removed from their exploitative situations or referred to assistance. The government failed to identify any adult victims of trafficking.
In Lome, the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) 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 hotline tips; these entities transferred an unknown number of 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 spent the equivalent of approximately $61,770 on victim assistance and protection, a slight increase from the 2012 budget of $60,500.
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. The government does not have a formal process in place to encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers and it is unclear whether any victims did so during the reporting period. 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 unidentified adult victims may have been penalized for such crimes.
The government sustained modest efforts to prevent child trafficking during the year, but showed no discernible efforts to prevent adult trafficking. CNARSEVT continued to operate local vigilance committees, made up of seven elected representatives from each village in Togo, which are charged with informing the police of suspicious actions relating to trafficking. Additionally, CNARSEVT provided basic anti-trafficking training to a variety of government workers, including forest rangers, bus attendants, and customs officials, in an effort to identify and prevent the movement of victims and potential victims to labor sites. The government reduced the demand for forced labor by outlawing and closing unlicensed sand and rock quarries, which commonly exploit children for forced labor. Additionally, the MSA initiated a program to partner with 30 traditional religious leaders to eliminate the practice of religious “apprenticeships”—a practice in which children are entrusted to religious leaders and are subsequently exploited in forced begging, forced domestic work, or sexual slavery when parents are unable to pay school fees. Although the government released a report on commercial child sexual exploitation in Togo in 2013, it did not take any discernible measures to decrease the demand for commercial sex acts. The government provided anti-trafficking training to Togolese troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.