The government maintained minimal law enforcement efforts. In October 2016, the government revised its penal code to criminalize trafficking in persons. It also moved the jurisdiction for human trafficking cases from the high court to the country’s lower courts, which may expedite the prosecution process. The 2016 penal code newly criminalized debt bondage but decreased the minimum terms of imprisonment for trafficking crimes and included provisions allowing for fines in lieu of imprisonment. The 2012 penal code prescribed a minimum of five years imprisonment for trafficking crimes, whereas the 2016 penal code allows for fines alone as the minimum sentence. Article 323 of the 2016 penal code criminalizes the recruitment, transportation, harboring, or receipt of a person by means of violence, threats of violence, or other forms of coercion for the purposes of exploitation. “Exploitation” is defined as in order to commit pimping, sexual aggression, or sexual assault; holding a person in slavery; forced labor; forced begging; organ removal; and forced criminality. With minors, defined in other legislation as younger than age 18, means of violence or coercion are not needed to prove trafficking. Trafficking of adults is penalized by three to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of 500,000 to 10 million Guinean francs ($54-$1,084) and child trafficking (article 324) by five to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine, which is sufficiently stringent but, with regard to sex trafficking, not commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Additional articles in the penal code separately criminalize forced begging, debt bondage, and forced prostitution but provide differing, insufficiently stringent penalties. Article 117 of the criminal procedural code authorizes judges to suspend prison sentences if they find “mitigating” circumstances. Penalties that allow for a fine in lieu of imprisonment are not adequate to deter the crime. The trafficking provisions in the penal code also cover some crimes that are not considered trafficking in the 2000 UN TIP Protocol. The government began but did not finish harmonizing the 2010 child protection code with the 2016 penal code, so magistrates could also prescribe insufficiently stringent penalties for child trafficking offenses using provisions in the 2010 code. Article 386 of the 2010 code prohibits child trafficking and prescribes sufficiently stringent penalties of three to 10 years imprisonment, but articles 388, 389, and 402 provide reduced sentences—with some penalties consisting of fines only—for facilitators of trafficking, parents or guardians complicit in trafficking, and forced begging, all of which are inconsistent with the 2016 penal code.
The government initiated five potential trafficking investigations, prosecuted four alleged traffickers, and convicted three under the 2010 child protection code, compared with one investigation and no prosecutions or convictions the previous reporting period. Border police arrested four individuals in Boke for facilitating the transportation of children to a Quranic school in Senegal, where they allegedly would have faced forced begging. The judge reclassified the case from child trafficking to transporting a minor across the border without authorization and convicted three individuals—the driver and two of the children’s parents. These were the government’s first convictions for trafficking-related offenses since 2014. The judge sentenced the parents and the driver to six months imprisonment and a fine but suspended the prison sentences, which negated the deterrent effect of these law enforcement measures. The Guinean embassy in Cairo identified several Guinean women exploited in domestic servitude in Egypt. CNLTP arrested one of the alleged recruiters in Conakry but he was later released; it is unclear if the case was dismissed or if he was released on bail pending a trial. One court reported initiating two trafficking investigations—one of which could have been the previous case—but did not provide details. Authorities intercepted four suspected traffickers and four potential victims en route to Kuwait, where the girls allegedly would have been exploited in sex trafficking; the investigation was ongoing at the end of the reporting period. The government also continued one investigation from the previous reporting period involving 14 alleged traffickers, including three marabouts. Law enforcement intercepted four additional groups of more than 74 potential victims reportedly destined for forced begging or forced labor in Quranic schools and removed the children but did not initiate any investigations into the drivers or suspected traffickers. Furthermore, while it directed its attention towards intercepting potential child trafficking victims, the government did not make efforts to address internal child forced labor in mining, domestic servitude, or sex trafficking. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of officials complicit in human trafficking; however, corruption among law enforcement and the judiciary—suspected to be especially prominent among labor inspectors, customs directors, and heads of police stations—allegedly impeded anti-trafficking efforts.
The government allocated 256 million Guinean francs ($27,751) to OPROGEM during the reporting period to facilitate trafficking case investigation and victim transportation to NGOs for care. This was the first time the government disbursed funds to OPROGEM specifically to assist with trafficking cases, although the amount was insufficient to cover even the unit’s basic operating costs. CNLTP funded training for Guinean and Sierra Leonean border officials on identifying trafficking victims and joint transnational trafficking investigations. Lack of general knowledge of trafficking and the trafficking provisions of the 2016 penal code persisted among government officials, especially judges and prosecutors in lower courts, because the government did not provide training or plan how to effectively shift authority for trafficking crimes to the lower courts.