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TOGO: Tier 2

The Government of Togo does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Togo was upgraded to Tier 2. These efforts included prosecuting and convicting more suspected traffickers; identifying more victims; and increasing funding for awareness raising activities. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not develop victim identification standard operating procedures (SOPs); enact legislation including victim protections; or update its national action plan from 2008.

Update existing victim referral manuals to include victim identification SOPs, and train law enforcement and justice sector personnel on those procedures to increase the number of victims identified and referred to protective services. • Provide anti-trafficking training to regional criminal courts to increase their ability to effectively prosecute trafficking cases. • Enact anti-trafficking legislation that includes provisions for victim protection, and implement measures that incentivize victims to participate in the law enforcement and judicial process, including witness protection as well as the provision of shelter, medical care, and psycho-social services. • Work with NGOs and international organizations to increase the provision of protective services to all trafficking victims. • Council of Ministers finalize and adopt the pending decree to create a Trafficking in Persons National Committee to improve governmental coordination. • Draft and implement an updated national action plan that incorporates adult victims and increases coordination with NGOs, neighboring countries, and regional organizations. • Develop a data collection and information management system to more effectively organize law enforcement and victim referral data, in collaboration with NGOs.

The government increased law enforcement efforts. Articles 317 through 320 of the penal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment and fines between 10 million and 50 million West African CFA francs (FCFA) ($17,590 and $87,930) for offenses involving an adult victim, and 20 to 30 years’ imprisonment and fines between 20 million and 50 million FCFA ($35,170 and $87,930) for offenses involving a child victim. These penalties were sufficiently stringent, and with regard to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.

The government reported investigating 62 suspected traffickers and prosecuting 49 suspects in 2018, compared with investigating and prosecuting eight suspects in 2017. Authorities reported convicting eight traffickers in 2018, compared with seven traffickers in 2017; officials reported sentencing the eight traffickers to sentences from one to three years’ imprisonment. The government did not report investigating, prosecuting, or convicting any officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.

The government continued to provide written instructions on victim identification to its law enforcement and immigration officials through the course of their basic training. Officials did not report any transnational investigations, prosecutions, or law enforcement cooperation with foreign governments, despite cross-border trafficking remaining a concern. In 2018, the government created regional criminal courts in Lome and Kara intended to increase the justice sector’s prosecutorial efficiency—including on trafficking cases—although it did not share data on prosecutions or convictions in these courts.

The government increased victim identification efforts, but demonstrated limited efforts to refer victims to care. In 2018, the government reported identifying 204 victims of trafficking—118 minors and 86 adults—compared to identifying 126 total victims during the previous reporting period. Officials reported using written manuals to refer victims to services in coordination with NGOs; however, the manuals did not include SOPs for identifying victims. The government did not report the total number of victims it referred to care or directly assisted, nor the scale of dissemination of its existing written procedures. While officials did not collect comprehensive victim referral statistics, NGOs reported effective collaboration between the government and civil society on victim protection and referral efforts.

The government partnered with an international organization and foreign government to repatriate nine child trafficking victims from Gabon. Officials from the National Committee for the Reception and Social Reinsertion of Trafficked Children (CNARSEVT) assisted the nine victims with their laissez passer documentation and referred them to NGOs for care. During the reporting period, the government provided in-kind support to NGOs providing victim assistance. In December 2018, the government partnered with an NGO and international organization to repatriate 51 Togolese forcibly returned from Gabon; while screening the returnees, they identified three women as potential victims of trafficking.

In Lome, the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) continued to run a toll-free helpline, Allo 10-11; officials reported the hotline received approximately 118 trafficking-specific calls in 2018, and resulted in the identification of an unknown number of child trafficking victims. Helpline data has been unreliably reported in the past, making comparison to the number of calls from previous years a challenge. CNARSEVT continued to operate an ad hoc referral system to respond to hotline tips, in conjunction with NGOs, social workers, and the police.

MSA continued to operate two shelters; the Tokoin Community Center served as an intermediary shelter for child trafficking victims referred by the Allo 10-11 hotline before transfer to care facilities managed by NGOs, while another shelter, CROPESDI, provided shelter, legal, medical, and social services to an unknown number of child abuse victims (including victims of trafficking) up to age 14. The government did not report how many victims these shelters served during the reporting period. The government did not offer temporary or permanent residency status to foreign victims facing hardship or retribution upon return to their country of origin.

The government did not have a formal process to encourage victims’ participation in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, and it is unclear whether any victims did so during the reporting period. While there were no reports the government penalized any trafficking victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit, authorities may have arrested or deported some victims due to the lack of victim identification SOPs and understanding of the crime among officials.

The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking in persons. The government coordinated its anti-child trafficking efforts and dissemination of information through CNARSEVT, which routinely convened during the year. CNARSEVT acted as a central hub of information for trafficking in Togo; however, data collection and reporting remained weak during the reporting period and the government has not updated its anti-trafficking national action plan since 2008.

The government employed a network of “vigilance committees” in nearly every village in the country to provide education on trafficking and report cases to the government, although the effectiveness of these committees varied greatly. In 2018, the government allocated approximately $300,000 to the Directorate for Child Protection to implement a nationwide awareness campaign. In September 2018, the campaign reached approximately 20,000 citizens in areas with populations vulnerable to trafficking.

Despite reports highlighting fraudulent recruiters trafficking Togolese abroad, authorities did not report investigating any foreign labor recruiters for trafficking crimes. The ministries of Labor and Social Action regulated labor recruitment firms, but did not collect comprehensive enforcement statistics. The government worked to reduce the demand for forced child labor by continuing to partner with traditional religious leaders to eliminate exploitation in religious “apprenticeships.” These “apprenticeships” involve parents entrusting their children to religious leaders for education and employment purposes, who exploit them in forced domestic work, or sexual slavery when parents are unable to pay school fees. The government distributed birth certificates with the assistance of NGOs; the lack of identification documents contributed to an increased vulnerability to trafficking in persons. An NGO reported labor inspectors often did not address obvious cases of child labor in large, open-air markets in urban centers, nor did they investigate these cases as potential trafficking crimes.

In September 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a bilateral agreement with Gabon to increase coordination on victim repatriations and cross-border trafficking investigations; the accord resulted in the repatriation of nine Togolese girls identified in Gabon. The government did not take any discernible measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. Officials provided anti-trafficking training to Togolese troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Togo, and traffickers exploit victims from Togo abroad. The western border of the Plateau region, which provides easy access to major roads between Lome and Accra, Ghana, was a primary source traffickers used to transport victims during the reporting period. Families and trusted intermediaries take advantage of high levels of poverty throughout the country to exploit many Togolese trafficking victims. Traffickers force children to work in the agricultural sector—particularly on coffee, cocoa, and cotton farms—as well as in stone and sand quarries, where children and adults break rocks by hand.

Traffickers visit rural areas in the north and central regions to recruit children from impoverished parents. These illicit recruiters promise lucrative employment for the children and pay parents an advance, before transporting the minors to Lome, where traffickers subject minors to forced labor as domestic servants, roadside vendors, and porters, or exploit them in child sex trafficking. Togolese businesspeople subject boys to forced labor in construction, salvage yards, mines, and as mechanics, often involving hazardous machinery. Traffickers recruit children from Benin and Ghana and transport them to Togo for forced labor. Illicit networks exploit Ghanaian girls in sex trafficking in Togo. International criminal groups transport Togolese boys and girls to Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, and Nigeria and force them to work in the agricultural sector. From September to April, many Togolese adults and children migrate in search of economic opportunities to Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, where criminal elements may subject them to labor and sex trafficking. Nigerians subject Togolese men to forced labor in agriculture and Togolese women to domestic servitude in Nigeria. Fraudulent labor agencies recruit Togolese women for employment in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United States, and Europe, where traffickers subject them to domestic servitude or sex trafficking.

U.S. Department of State

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