The government increased efforts to identify trafficking victims. With data from all 45 provinces, the government reported identifying 1,740 trafficking victims, an increase from 1,407 potential victims identified in 40 provinces the previous reporting period. Among the victims identified, the government reported Nigerian girls in sex trafficking within Burkina Faso and Burkinabes exploited abroad in forced labor in Libya and sex trafficking in Lebanon. This is a contrast from previous years, when the government primarily identified Burkinabe and West African children intercepted while being transported, sometimes in large numbers on trucks or buses, to destinations where they could have faced exploitation, typically in gold mines or in city centers as domestic servants or street beggars. The government also identified and removed 1,284 child laborers from 86 artisanal gold mining sites in six provinces, some of whom might have been trafficking victims, and provided food, clothing, shelter, health care, and legal assistance to 25 of these children. An international organization provided assistance and repatriation to 22 additional female sex trafficking victims from Nigeria, some of whom the government had identified and referred to the organization for care. A second NGO identified 12 Malian girls in domestic servitude and provided care. The government had standard victim identification and referral procedures; in regions where authorities and front-line responders had been trained, such procedures worked efficiently. In addition, the government validated and disseminated throughout the country a case management guide for law enforcement and social services personnel to facilitate the uniform referral of child victims of crime, including trafficking, to care, and distributed 1,000 copies of a children’s rights guide to social service actors to improve their knowledge of the care options available for vulnerable children.
The government operated and staffed one shelter in Ouagadougou; the shelter was open 24 hours per day and could accommodate long-term stays for both adults and children; the government referred 250 trafficking victims to the shelter during the reporting period, and they received shelter, food, and medical assistance. Outside of the capital, the government operated 35 regional protection offices that could provide psychological, social, and food assistance. These offices provided short-term services, but usually not shelter, to at least 108 Burkinabe and foreign child trafficking victims; the offices only operated during weekly business hours and when they had sufficient funding. The government and NGOs disbursed 61 million West African CFA francs (FCFA) ($108,480) to these offices during the reporting period for health care, education, vocational training, family reunification, and social workers; this was in addition to the funding the government provided for the shelter and office staffs’ salaries. The protection offices relied heavily on local NGOs and international organizations for the majority of support. When trafficking victims outside of Ouagadougou required shelter, authorities and NGOs nearly always placed victims with host families or an NGO. Outside of Ouagadougou, there were no shelters or services specifically for adults; however, the government shelter and regional protection offices could accommodate adults when necessary. Long-term care for all victims remained inadequate. The government acknowledged victim services were insufficient, and service providers lacked the funding and resources to support victim protection, rehabilitation and reintegration, which resulted in many victims being subjected to re-trafficking. The 2015 law on the prevention and repression of violence against women and girls mandated measures for victim support, including the establishment of free emergency integrated support centers to offer comprehensive support services for women and girl victims of violence, including sexual slavery, and the creation of a government support fund for victims. The government had one such center during the reporting period and allocated 5 million FCFA ($8,890) to it in 2017, a significant increase from 1.68 million FCFA ($2,990) allocated in 2016. The ministry did not report how many victims it referred to this center during the reporting period.
The government did not have a formal policy to encourage victims to participate in trials against their traffickers but encouraged victims to do so by providing protection through the Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, and Family; a regional human rights office; or foreign victims’ embassies. The government did not report if victims could legally file civil suits against their traffickers or otherwise obtain restitution. Foreign victims who face hardship or retribution in their country of origin could apply for asylum, but there were no reports trafficking victims applied for asylum during the reporting period. The government provided travel documents to facilitate repatriation of foreign trafficking victims identified in Burkina Faso and Burkinabes exploited in Lebanon. It transported Burkinabe trafficking victims repatriated from Libya, Nigeria, and Lebanon to the Ouagadougou shelter for care and, with an international donor, provided shelter, food, medical care, psychological support, and family reunification. There were no reports of trafficking victims penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; however, without uniform implementation of victim identification measures, including among vulnerable populations, some victims could have been left unidentified in the law enforcement system.