The government increased its law enforcement efforts. Article 323 of the penal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Article 324 prescribed penalties of three to seven years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both for adult trafficking, and five to 10 years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both for child trafficking. These penalties were sufficiently stringent. By allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the penalties for sex trafficking were not commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Article 343 of the penal code separately criminalized forced begging and prescribed penalties of one to three years’ imprisonment and a fine; these penalties were not sufficiently stringent. The government drafted a revision to the 2010 Child Protection Code, which was under review before enactment; the revised code reportedly attempts to define trafficking and establishes sentencing guidelines to match the criminal code. Two international organizations provided technical assistance for the drafting of the revised code.
OPROGEM was the lead government entity responsible for investigating trafficking cases, and the General Secretary for Special Services, Counter-Narcotics, and Combating Organized Crime could investigate transnational trafficking cases. In 2018, the government investigated 62 individuals, prosecuted 54 suspects, and convicted 55 traffickers; this was a significant increase from 44 investigations, 18 prosecutions, and 18 convictions in 2017, and five investigations, four prosecutions, and three convictions in 2016. Of the 55 convicted traffickers, 17 were convicted for fraudulent recruitment and 38 were convicted for sex trafficking. In 2018, the sentences ranged from two to four years in prison to confiscation of property. In addition, the government sentenced a recruiter—found guilty in the previous reporting period—who sent women to Egypt for domestic servitude to two years in prison, with a suspended sentence. The sentence was for trafficking.
In September 2018, local and administrative authorities of Koundara identified two convoys totaling 400 children being trafficked to Senegal, The Gambia, and Guinea Bissau allegedly for forced begging. Nonetheless, officials did not report investigating this case and authorities have never prosecuted a corrupt Quranic teacher for child forced begging. The children were accommodated in transit at a youth center where they received psychological and nutrition assistance from social workers. Local and national authorities report the children have been returned to their communities. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of complicit officials; however, corruption among law enforcement and the judiciary—suspected to be especially prominent among labor inspectors, customs directors, and heads of police stations—remained a concern and impeded overall anti-trafficking efforts. The investigation of three airport officials who were reportedly complicit in the sex trafficking of Guinean women in transit to Kuwait, initiated in the previous reporting period, was still under investigation; however, the government fired the officials from their positions.
The government did not sufficiently resource OPROGEM, which continued to inhibit its ability to consistently investigate potential trafficking crimes. In 2016, the government dedicated a 256 million Guinean francs ($28,210) budget to OPROGEM, the last time it did so. The government reported a lack of general knowledge about trafficking, and the trafficking provisions of the 2016 penal code, persisted among government officials, especially judges and prosecutors in lower courts. The government provided in-kind resources for limited law enforcement and judiciary training during the reporting period; one OPROGEM investigator participated in an internationally-funded training course on child exploitation in Gaborone; two other OPROGEM investigators participated in a workshop on child exploitation and child forced labor organized by an international organization. In addition, the CNLTPPA, in collaboration with an international organization, organized a training course on forced labor in which 30 participants from the police and gendarmerie participated. The CNLTPPA, in collaboration with an international organization and a foreign donor, organized a training workshop in Conakry for 30 judges and prosecutors. These training efforts were an improvement from 2017 when no training was provided. The lack of extradition agreements with countries in Africa and the Middle East impeded prosecutions of traffickers from those countries. In a high profile legal case, the government provided financial assistance for the defense of a well-known and politically connected Guinean couple against charges of human trafficking in the United States. In January 2019, U.S. courts convicted the couple; they awaited sentencing at the end of the reporting period.