The government made minimal anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Senegal’s 2005 Law to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Related Practices and to Protect Victims prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties of five to 10 years imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The law has rarely been used to prosecute alleged traffickers; in the last five years, the government convicted only two marabouts for forced begging under the 2005 law, despite a government estimate that at least 30,000 talibes are forced to beg in Dakar alone. In addition, the lack of government action to regulate daaras and prosecute those who engaged in or abetted forced child begging allowed the problem to continue. After more than two years of negotiations, the government, in collaboration with religious leaders, finalized the draft text of a bill to modernize daaras; if passed, the bill would outline requirements that daaras must meet in order to be declared “modern” and thus eligible to receive government subsidies. It remained in draft form at the end of the reporting period. According to the law’s drafters, daaras that use forced begging will not be eligible to receive subsidies; however, the text of the law itself does not explicitly exclude such daaras from receiving government assistance. Furthermore, participation in the program to become a “modern daara” and receive subsidies will be voluntary, so it is unclear if the draft bill, once passed, would adequately address child forced begging.
For the fifth consecutive year, the government did not maintain or publish comprehensive anti-trafficking law enforcement statistics. From data collected from three of Senegal’s 14 regions, the government reported 16 trafficking investigations eight prosecutions and five convictions, compared with one investigation, prosecution, and conviction for forced begging in the previous reporting period. Judges convicted four sex traffickers under the pimping statute, acquitted one alleged sex trafficker, and convicted a fifth trafficker for an unknown type of exploitation. Sentences upon conviction ranged from two to three years imprisonment and fines; all sentences imposed were below the minimum of five years imprisonment provided in the law. A presidential decree issued in June 2016 (2016 decree) ordered the removal of all children from the streets, including students, known as talibes, forced to beg by marabouts. Although the government removed more than 1,500 children, authorities did not launch any investigations into marabouts or other suspected traffickers identified through the decree for forced begging offenses, and authorities restricted enforcement of the decree to Dakar. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses; however, allegations of government inaction to prosecute marabouts remained a serious concern. Authorities from MFFE and the government-run Ginddi Center for trafficking victims reported to law enforcement marabouts suspected of repeatedly violating the 2005 law, but law enforcement did not adequately investigate those individuals or refer the cases for prosecution.
The government, in collaboration with international organizations and donors, developed and partially funded five training programs on organized crime and trafficking, identifying and investigating human trafficking cases, and using data collection systems for human trafficking cases. A total of 124 policemen, labor inspectors, and judicial staff attended the trainings. Many law enforcement and judicial personnel remained unaware of the 2005 law, which, coupled with limited institutional capacity, inhibited efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers under the law and collect data on such efforts. Although the taskforce had created a national trafficking database during the previous reporting period and trained law enforcement on its usage, the government did not fully implement it during the reporting period.