The government increased efforts to protect victims; however, efforts to address, identify, and assist child victims of domestic servitude, forced begging, and sex trafficking remained inadequate compared to the scale. Due to a lack of coordinated data collection at the national level, the government did not report comprehensive data. The government reportedly identified 85 victims and 64 potential victims who officials identified prior to their departure to Kuwait, China, and Saudi Arabia where officials determined they would be vulnerable to trafficking; this compared to 86 identified in the previous reporting period. In addition, the government facilitated the repatriations of 177 trafficking victims back to Madagascar, including funding the repatriations of 46 adult women from Kuwait—an increase compared to 12 repatriated victims in the previous year. The government reportedly provided various forms of assistance to at least 221 trafficking victims, an increase compared to 57 assisted last reporting period. These efforts included providing temporary housing for 14 repatriated victims at its new Mitsinjo trafficking shelter for adults; vocational services to 35 children; medical, security, and reintegration assistance to 46 repatriated victims from Kuwait; psychological support from a government social worker, and with assistance from an international organization, medical, legal assistance, and financial support to 140 repatriated victims; as well as airport transportation to an unknown number of repatriated victims. NGOs and international organizations reported identifying and assisting 1,362 victims, providing 79 victims with social reintegration assistance, and providing 46 victims with hotel accommodations. Last reporting period, an international organization reported there may be as many as 200 Malagasy women still in a rural region of China, who were victims of a trafficking scheme in which deceptive or coercive brokers defrauded and sold women into marriages to Chinese men allegedly for the purpose of involuntary servitude; no additional information was available on these women or whether they were provided assistance or repatriated.
The government adopted formal national procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims and refer them for care; however, these procedures neither included a list of assistance organizations nor outlines the organizations to which victims should be referred. However, the government did not distribute these procedures and their use was limited outside of Antananarivo. The Ministry of Population, in collaboration with an international organization, continued to coordinate approximately 700 child protection networks across the country. These networks were mandated to protect children from various forms of abuse and exploitation, as well as to ensure access to medical and psychological services for victims of crime, including trafficking. However, due to lack of resources, child protection networks only provided basic assistance through public hospitals and health units and generally referred the victims to international organizations and NGOs for additional assistance. Through referral from the child protection networks, an international organization assisted 990 children (641 girls and 349 boys), including victims of sexual exploitation and the worst forms of child labor, which included various forms of child trafficking. The government opened a new trafficking-specific shelter for repatriated adult victims; the Mitsinjo Center was a temporary shelter, owned by the government, which could hold a maximum of 12 victims and sheltered 14 total during the reporting period, with support from an international organization. Four government hospitals had “one-stop” victim support centers that offered assistance to child victims of various abuses, including sex trafficking; the one-stop support centers were located in Antananarivo, Toamasina, Mahajanga, and Nosy Be and offered victims medical assistance, psychological support, and access to the police and social workers, but the government did not report how many victims received assistance at these facilities. The Ministry of Population in Nosy Be continued to operate a foster care program for exploited children in partnership with an international organization; the program included 10 participating families who received funding from the government and hosted 18 children during the reporting period, five of which had been removed from situations of exploitative domestic labor. The government continued to operate and fund the Manjary Soa Center in Antananarivo, which received 35 children who had been removed from situations of forced labor and sex trafficking. This center provided vocational training or reintegration into the public school system. The city of Antananarivo continued to manage an emergency center for child victims of domestic servitude, generally referred by the Morals and Protection of Minors Police Service (PMPM); the city, in partnership with an international organization, provided food, lodging, psychological and medical aid, and educational services.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) had the responsibility to systematically inform the Ministry of Population when victims were in the process of repatriation; in turn, the Ministry of Population continued to contact victims upon their return and offer assistance, but reports indicated some victims were reluctant to work with the government. The 2014 anti-trafficking law required authorities to consider legal alternatives for foreign trafficking victims who believe they may face hardship or retribution if returned to their country of origin; but the government did not report providing this protection to victims during the reporting period. There were occasional reports that the government arrested or punished trafficking victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit; police would sometimes arrest underage girls for prostitution without screening for trafficking and would sometimes temporarily keep potential transnational labor trafficking victims in police stations due to a lack of alternative accommodations. To prevent retaliation from suspected traffickers, trafficking trials could be held in private or by camera for the sake of the victim or witness’ confidentiality and privacy; however, the government did not report doing so during the reporting period. Further, while the 2014 anti-trafficking law entitled victims to restitution, for the fifth consecutive year, the government did not implement this provision.