The government increased efforts to identify trafficking victims and maintained efforts to protect victims. With partial data from 30 of 45 provinces from the full reporting period, the government reported identifying 851 trafficking victims and 2,844 potential trafficking victims; this was a significant increase from 1,750 potential victims identified in 45 provinces the previous reporting period. Of these 2,844 potential victims, the Ministry of Women identified 1,350 vulnerable children living on the street, including talibés (Quranic students) exploited in forced begging. Separately, the government identified and removed 2,000 child laborers from artisanal gold mining sites, some of whom might have been trafficking victims, and provided food, clothing, shelter, health care, and legal assistance to all of these children. In August 2018, the Ministry of Women launched a campaign to remove all vulnerable children from the street, including talibés exploited in forced begging. Through the campaign, the government identified and provided care to 1,350 vulnerable children, including potential trafficking victims. The government provided all children identified during the campaign shelter and services including family reintegration, counseling, and medical services as needed. However, the Ministry of Women did not involve law enforcement in the campaign, limiting prosecutions of traffickers as a result of identifying potential trafficking victims. An international organization provided assistance and repatriation to 24 additional trafficking victims, including nine children, from Nigeria. The government had standard victim identification and referral procedures; in regions where authorities and front-line responders had been trained, they implemented such procedures effectively. 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. The government coordinated with an international organization to screen for trafficking indicators among refugees and IDPs.
The government operated and staffed two shelters for victims of crime that trafficking victims could access in Ouagadougou; the shelter was open 24 hours per day and could accommodate long-term stays for both adults and children; the government referred an unknown number of trafficking victims to the shelters during the reporting period, and they received shelter, food, and medical assistance. Outside of the capital, the government operated 27 regional transit centers for victims of crime in 13 regions that could provide psychological, social, and food assistance. These offices provided short-term services, but usually not shelter, to an unknown number of Burkinabe and foreign child trafficking victims; the offices only operated during weekly business hours and when they had sufficient funding. In 2018, the government allocated approximately 8.5 million FCFA ($14,950) to victim protection services; in 2017, the government and NGOs disbursed 61 million FCFA ($107,270) to the transit centers 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; the government placed 31 child victims temporarily with foster families. Outside of Ouagadougou, there were no shelters or services specifically for adults; however, regional transit centers 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 sex trafficking, and the creation of a government support fund for victims; the government reported an unknown number of trafficking victims received support from the fund during the reporting period. The government had one such center in operation during the reporting period and allocated 1 million FCFA ($1,760) to it in 2018, compared to 5 million FCFA ($8,790) allocated in 2017. The ministry did not report how many victims it referred to this center during the reporting period.
The government encouraged victims to participate in trials against their traffickers by providing protection through the Ministry of Women, a regional human rights office, or foreign victims’ embassies. The 2008 anti-trafficking law contained provisions to protect victims’ identities and encourage their participation in prosecutions by allowing for closed sessions to hear victim testimony, excusing victims from appearing at hearings, and for social workers to accompany child victims. The government did not report if it utilized these provisions during the reporting period. The government did not report if victims could legally file civil suits against their traffickers or otherwise obtain restitution. Foreign victims who faced 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 and facilitated the repatriation of nine Burkinabe child forced labor victims identified in Cote d’Ivoire. In collaboration with NGOs and international organizations, the government repatriated Burkinabe trafficking victims from Nigeria, Togo, Benin, and Cote d’Ivoire and 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.