The government maintained efforts to identify and provide services to trafficking victims. Law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel had formal written procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among high-risk populations; however, they made limited efforts to implement those procedures, especially among gold-mining communities and children in begging. The government, at times in collaboration with NGOs, identified and referred to services approximately 1,381 trafficking victims during the reporting period—including three Nigerian sex trafficking victims and a significant number of child forced begging victims. This was compared to identifying and providing services to 1,547 potential child trafficking victims the previous reporting period, when the government led a campaign to identify children in forced begging. One NGO repatriated and reunited 249 of the trafficking victims with their families, with the government providing travel documents for foreign victims and transportation for internal returns. A second NGO identified and cared for an additional 565 trafficking victims without government support.
The government created a new ministry with a special emphasis on child protection—the Ministry of Good Governance and Child Protection (MGGCP). The MGGCP took the lead for child trafficking victim protection. The Ginddi Center, under the aegis of the MGGCP, provided temporary shelter and basic care to both foreign and domestic victims. The Ginddi Center cared for approximately 1,278 victims during the reporting period, and authorities referred at least 20 other trafficking victims to NGOs for care. Nearly all victims identified were child forced begging victims from Senegal, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia, and Mali. In a positive step, authorities stopped their previous practice of returning child forced begging victims to exploitative marabouts. However, Ginddi Center officials reported that even when victims were returned to their families, recidivism occurred. The government provided 90.6 million West African CFA francs (FCFA) ($161,120) to the center in 2017, an increase from 85.7 million FCFA ($152,400) allocated to the center in the previous year. The center provided basic meals and shelter for victims. The center could also provide clothing, basic psychological services, and legal counseling, but only when such resources were available; it was unknown how many victims received these services during the reporting period. The center lacked sufficient staff, resources, and specialized training for social workers and volunteers, and it only had one volunteer doctor to provide basic medical treatment. The center lacked space to accommodate all victims identified, which limited the number of victims authorities could remove from exploitation and how long victims could remain at the center. In order to address the lack of space at the Ginddi Center, in March 2018 the MGGCP began sending some trafficking victims identified during the second phase of the anti-forced begging campaign to the center for immediate services, and then on to partner daaras—which the government had certified met capacity, hygiene, and security standards and did not engage in forced begging—that provided children with follow-on support until family reunification. Seventy-five trafficking victims identified in late March 2018 were sent to one such daara. The Ministry of Justice operated three shelters (CPAs) for child victims of crime, witnesses, and children in emergency situations, which trafficking victims could access. It was unclear how much funding the CPAs received in 2017, but the government allocated 20 million FCFA ($35,570) to the centers in early 2018. Several NGOs operated trafficking victim shelters throughout the country. Outside of Dakar, international observers reported NGOs sometimes had to provide critical shelter and trafficking victim services due to a lack of government involvement.
Authorities inconsistently applied the victim referral system, and it was not available in all regions of the country. Authorities referred victims identified along Senegal’s borders to an international organization and government center for questioning before referring them to NGOs or government centers for protective services. In Dakar and rural areas, law enforcement, civil society, and community protection groups generally referred children to the government or NGOs for social services and repatriation; however, members were not always aware of the shelters and services available, especially for adults, which at times caused delays in the provision of services. The law provided alternatives to the removal of foreign victims who may face hardship or retribution upon return, including the option to apply for temporary or permanent residency; the government did not report offering this relief to any victims during the reporting period. Victims could legally obtain restitution and file civil suits against their traffickers, although the government did not report that any did so during the reporting period.