Togo

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Tier 2

TOGO: Tier 2

The Government of Togo does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Togo remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by providing assistance to more transnational child trafficking victims and increasing the number of labor inspectors. The government also employed a network of “vigilance committees” in nearly every village in the country to provide education on trafficking and report cases to the government. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not report any efforts to identify or assist adult victims or victims within Togo.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TOGO

Increase efforts to prosecute and punish traffickers involved in trafficking of adults and forced child labor crimes using the amended penal code; develop a formal system to identify trafficking victims, including adults and victims within Togo, and train law enforcement, immigration, and social welfare officials on victim identification; effectively track the number of trafficking victims who receive services from the government, are referred to NGOs, or are returned to their families; develop a system among law enforcement and judicial officials to track and report on human trafficking investigations and prosecutions; enact anti-trafficking legislation that includes provisions for victim protection; allocate sufficient funds to operate the two government-run centers for victims; and increase efforts to raise public awareness about the dangers of human trafficking, including the trafficking of adults.

PROSECUTION

The government maintained law enforcement efforts. Togolese laws criminalize all forms of trafficking, but not all prescribed penalties are sufficiently stringent or commensurate with other serious crimes. The penal code, revised in 2015, prohibits all forms of trafficking in articles 317 to 320 and prescribes penalties of 10 to 20 years imprisonment and fines between 10 and 50 million CFA franc (FCFA) ($16,000 and $79,980). Article 317 criminalizes the use of force, fraud or coercion for specific purposes, including sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, servitude and begging. Article 319 provides enhanced penalties in certain circumstances. Article 320 removes the requirement of proving force, fraud or coercion when the trafficking victim is a child. Penalties for child trafficking crimes are increased to 20-30 years imprisonment and a 20-50 million FCFA ($31,990-$79,980) fine; article 321 prescribes application of the maximum penalty and a fine of 25-100 million FCFA ($39,990-$159,960) in egregious circumstances. Article 326 makes trafficking victims acting under duress not responsible for crimes they commit as a result of being trafficking victims. Although article 317 makes forced labor a trafficking offense subject to the penalties set forth in article 318, article 338 also specifically prohibits forced labor prescribing penalties of five to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 5-20 million FCFA ($8,000-$31,990). Articles 346-349 prohibit exploitative begging prescribing penalties of six months to 20 years and fines, depending on the age and vulnerability of the victim; these penalties are sufficiently stringent, and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Other laws that predate the 2015 penal code amendments also address trafficking offenses and impose significantly lower penalties. For example, article 4 of the 2006 labor code prohibits forced and compulsory labor, with prescribed penalties of three to six months imprisonment, which are not sufficiently stringent. The 2007 child code criminalizes all forms of child trafficking and prescribes penalties of two to five years imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent, but not commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The 2005 Law Related to Child Smuggling criminalizes abducting, transporting, or receiving children for the purposes of exploitation with prison sentences of three months to 10 years imprisonment; these penalties are not commensurate with other serious crimes. The government did not take action during the reporting period to enact draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, pending since 2009, that would include provisions for victim protection.

The government reported investigating 101 traffickers and convicting 60 traffickers in 2016, compared with 123 investigations and 59 convictions of traffickers in 2015. The government did not report details on the provisions under which it tried these suspects or provide sentencing data. The government did not provide any trafficking-specific training to its law enforcement officials. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses. Experts reported judges were often reluctant to convict or fine parents who subjected their children to trafficking, as they felt it would exacerbate the economic situation that drove a parent to commit the crime. The government cooperated with the governments of Benin, Ghana, and Nigeria under a joint agreement on the control and monitoring of borders to prevent child trafficking, repatriate victims, and extradite traffickers. Additionally, the government cooperated with all west African states under the West African Multilateral Accord and with all west and central African states under the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons in West and Central Africa.

PROTECTION

The government maintained modest protection efforts. The government assisted in the repatriation of, and provided services for, transnational child trafficking victims. The government-funded and facilitated the repatriation of 99 Togolese victims of child trafficking in 2016, including 78 girls and 21 boys, who were returned from Nigeria, Gabon, and Cote d’Ivoire; this was an increase from 20 repatriations the previous year. The government provided these victims with health services, food, and lodging during their reintegration and reunited them with their families. However, the government did not report identifying or providing any services to adult trafficking victims or other internal trafficking victims, nor did it provide details on any cases, and data collection remained a gap. The government also did not report the number of victims referred to care facilities.

In Lome, the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) continued to run a toll-free 24-hour helpline, Allo 10-11, which received 4,000 calls regarding child trafficking and other forms of child abuse. The National Committee for the Reception and Social Reinsertion of Trafficked Children, Togo’s national anti-trafficking committee comprising government officials and NGOs, continued to operate jointly with the police an ad hoc referral system to respond to hotline tips. 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 another shelter, CROPESDI, provided shelter, legal, medical, and social services to child victims up to age 14. The government did not report its budget for victim assistance and protection. 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 did not have a formal process to encourage victims’ participation 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 subjected to trafficking.

PREVENTION

The government increased efforts to prevent child trafficking and initiated minimal efforts to prevent adult trafficking. The government coordinated its anti-child trafficking efforts and dissemination of information through MSA’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Cell, previously the National Committee for the Reception and Social Reinsertion of Trafficked Children (CNARSEVT). The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Cell acted as a central hub of information and tracked statistics on trafficking of children in Togo, including the repatriation of child victims; however, data collection and reporting remained weak during the reporting period. In 2016, the government expanded CNARSEVT’s scope to include adults and re-designated it as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Cell. The government employed a network of “vigilance committees” in nearly every village in the country to provide education on trafficking and report cases to the government, although the effectiveness of these committees varied greatly. The government employed 167 labor inspectors across all five regions during the reporting period, an increase of 58 inspectors from the previous year. Despite the increase, there were still too few inspectors compared to the scale of child labor in the country, much of which could constitute trafficking. An NGO reported inspectors often did not address even obvious cases of child labor in large, open-air markets in urban centers. During the reporting period, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Cell identified 246 children in child labor. The government did not regulate foreign labor recruiters. The government reduced the demand for forced labor through the continuation of a program partnering with 30 traditional religious leaders to eliminate exploitation through the practice of religious “apprenticeships”—a practice in which children are entrusted to religious leaders who exploit them in forced domestic work, or, in some cases, sexual slavery when parents are unable to pay school fees. In 2016, the government co-drafted a Charter on Maritime Security and Development in Africa that aims to combat transnational crime, including child trafficking. The government distributed birth certificates with the assistance of NGOs. The government had not updated its national action plan since 2008. The government did not take any discernible measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government provided anti-trafficking training to Togolese troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, Togo is a source, transit and, to a lesser extent, destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The western border of the Plateau region, which provides easy access to major roads leading to Lome, and Accra, Ghana, was a primary source for trafficking victims during the reporting period. Most Togolese victims are children 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. Traffickers bring children from rural areas to Lome, where they are subjected to forced labor as domestic servants, roadside vendors, and porters, or exploited in child sex trafficking. Boys are subjected to forced labor in construction, in salvage yards, mines, and as mechanics, often working with hazardous machinery. Children from Benin and Ghana are recruited and transported to Togo for forced labor. Girls from Ghana are exploited in sex trafficking in Togo. Togolese boys and girls are transported to Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, and Nigeria and forced to work in the agricultural sector. From September to April, many Togolese adults and children migrate in search of economic opportunities to Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali, where many are subjected to labor and sex trafficking. In Nigeria, Togolese men are subjected to forced labor in agriculture and Togolese women are exploited in domestic servitude. Togolese women have been fraudulently recruited for employment in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United States, and Europe, where they are subjected to domestic servitude or forced prostitution.