The government increased efforts to protect victims. OCPM identified 223 potential trafficking victims, including 201 children and 22 adults, in 2016, compared with 131 in 2015. OCPM provided temporary shelter and legal, medical, and psychological services to all identified potential victims before their transfer to long-term NGO shelters; however, the government failed to provide financial or in-kind support to NGOs providing care. The government did not have formal written procedures to guide officials in proactive identification of trafficking victims or a formal mechanism for screening trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, including persons in commercial sex.
The MLCSSA and ministries of justice and interior worked with an international organization and NGOs to coordinate placement of child trafficking victims with host families, who provided additional care to children prior to reintegration into their home communities. Government social workers provided counseling for such children, while an NGO provided financial support to cover their basic needs. Through their general support for victims of crime and vulnerable groups, 85 centers for social promotion under the MLCSSA offered basic social services, food, and temporary shelter to trafficking victims throughout the country, particularly in rural areas where such services were scarce, and assisted with reintegration of victims into their home communities. These centers reunited an unknown number of Beninese child trafficking victims with their families or placed them in long-term shelters if their families could not be identified. During the reporting period, the government provided in-kind donations of 19 million West African Franc (CFA) ($30,390) to OCPM to assist in providing care for all victims of crime, including trafficking victims. The government, with support from an international organization and an NGO, established two counseling and leisure centers (baraques) in the markets of Zakpota and Abomey in central Benin. These centers offered counseling and education to 106 children during the reporting period, including children exposed to labor exploitation. Officials and NGO stakeholders in destination countries noted re-trafficking was an issue once victims returned to Benin, with parents often sending child victims or their siblings back to the trafficker to uphold an initial agreement. A draft cooperation agreement between Benin and Gabon on child trafficking remained pending for the third consecutive year. Benin did not provide legal alternatives to removal of trafficking victims to countries in which victims would face retribution or hardship.
The government did not make systematic efforts to identify adult trafficking victims. The government intercepted 19 potential adult victims at the Cotonou airport en route to Lebanon and Kuwait and identified three other adult victims, but did not report on protections provided to adult victims. The government acknowledged that adult sex trafficking exists in the country, but did not screen individuals in commercial sex for trafficking, which may have left victims unidentified in the law enforcement system.