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.