The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. Civil society and government officials’ minimal awareness of the crime, as well as the lack of a leading government entity to coordinate key actors’ efforts, continued to impede the country’s anti-trafficking efforts. To address this deficiency, the government continued its nationwide sensitization campaign in 2020 and early 2021 using radio and television to increase Equatoguineans’ understanding of human trafficking. The Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Information, Press, and Radio initiated multiple awareness raising programs leveraging the government’s national television and radio station, including interviews with senior officials such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Director General of Human Rights, and with senior officials from a foreign government. The Ministry of Labor’s web-based reporting platform and hotline remained active and available for individuals to anonymously report potential trafficking cases as did the Ministry of National Security’s new hotlines for reporting crimes to the police. The government disclosed that it did not receive any trafficking-related calls in 2020. Restrictions on in-person gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19 resulted in authorities postponing multiple planned sensitization and training events. Some events, such as a training by international experts for government officials, took place virtually.
Per the country’s 2019-2021 national action plan, the government created an interdepartmental committee including representatives from the attorney general’s office, Department of Human Rights, as well as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Social Affairs, Interior, National Security, Information, Health, Labor, Justice, Education, Finance, National Defense, Culture, and Civil Aviation; the committee convened monthly to monitor action plan activities. The government reported allocating 50 million CFA ($94,470) for the Ministry of Justice to bolster its anti-trafficking efforts and 300 million CFA ($566,830) for NGOs, compared with allocating $149,000 for NGOs to implement trainings during the previous reporting period.
In September 2020, the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with an NGO and a foreign government, hosted two three-day seminars for civil society actors on human trafficking in the country’s two largest cities: Malabo and Bata. Additionally, officials collaborated with an international organization as well as a foreign government to host a three-day training seminar in November 2020 to strengthen the country’s institutional capacity to combat human trafficking. During the previous reporting period, the government funded a nationwide anti-trafficking initiative for more than 700 government workers and civil society actors to address a widespread lack of knowledge of trafficking among officials and the general population.
The Ministry of Labor continued to implement regulations requiring all companies to sign formal labor contracts with their employees. During the reporting period—except during the March to July 2020 pandemic lockdown and the partial lockdown that started in February 2021—Ministry of Labor officials inspected some businesses in the formal and informal sectors for human trafficking; ministry representatives did not report identifying any victims through their inspections.
Border security officials stated they increased cooperation with Gabonese and Cameroonian counterparts on screening for potential victims of trafficking; however, they did not report identifying any victims resulting from this coordination during the reporting period though they identified potential victims the government suspected were in fact fraudulent adoptions. Additionally, the government signed an agreement with Burundi in 2020 to formalize labor recruitment standards. Commercial sex was legal in the country and, in an attempt to decrease exploitation of vulnerable individuals and demand for commercial sex acts, the government continued implementing regulations requiring all commercial sex establishments to register and provide contracts to their workers. Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Artisanal Promotion reported that in 2020, it implemented preventive measures to fight against sex tourism involving children at the national level, including through awareness programs for representatives of hotels, hostels, and all tourist venues.