The government maintained inadequate law enforcement efforts. Public Law 12/2011 criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of three to 15 years’ imprisonment and the confiscation of any proceeds from the crime. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with regard to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In February 2019, the government drafted amendments to the Code of Child Protection in an effort to harmonize it with international laws on human trafficking, but the legislature had not yet adopted the amendments by the end of the reporting period. The government investigated nine trafficking cases during the reporting period. All nine were child forced begging cases, with five of these cases referred to the Public Ministry for prosecution; prosecutions were not yet formally initiated at the end of the reporting period. The government did not report any prosecutions or convictions during the reporting period. The government has never convicted a trafficker under the anti-trafficking law. This was a decrease compared with investigating 23 cases of child trafficking and prosecuting one alleged trafficker during the previous reporting period. During the reporting period, the Judicial Police cooperated with the Government of Morocco to investigate a case of fraudulent recruitment for forced labor in domestic service after Moroccan authorities identified two Bissau-Guinean women in Morocco; the investigation was ongoing at the end of the reporting period. Despite past reports of official complicity, the government did not report investigating, prosecuting, or convicting any corrupt or complicit officials for trafficking crimes. Guinea-Bissau’s judicial system lacked sufficient human and physical capital to function effectively, and corruption remained pervasive.
The Judicial Police had a specialized unit that investigated trafficking cases; however, it did not have nationwide coverage or a dedicated budget for investigations. The police, National Guard, judiciary, and prosecutors all suffered from a chronic lack of funding, which hindered their efforts to combat human trafficking. The Judicial Police were largely absent outside the capital. The National Guard and local police in rural areas had neither the training nor the capacity to investigate trafficking crimes and did not always refer such cases to the Judicial Police, which impeded investigations into forced child begging in eastern regions and child sex trafficking in the Bijagos. In addition, police and judges often resolved intra-familial labor and abuse cases—which could include forced child labor and child sex trafficking by family members—through non-judicial means or tried them as domestic violence cases. When parents broke such agreements and police transferred the cases to court, officials noted community leaders often pressured courts to drop the cases. The government contributed trainers from the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Cohesion’s Institute for Women and Children (IMC) and the National Guard to international organization-funded trainings for police officers and civil society actors on the 2011 anti-trafficking law, national referral mechanisms, trauma-informed care, and data management. However, some law enforcement and judicial officials remained unaware of the 2011 anti-trafficking law.