The government maintained efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. The government identified and referred to services 129 foreign adult trafficking victims from Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso, and 6,187 vulnerable children, including potential child trafficking victims, during the reporting period. This was a significant increase compared with identifying 1,358 vulnerable children, including potential child trafficking victims, during the previous reporting period. Law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel had formal written procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations. However, adult victim identification and referral to services remained insufficient. Authorities housed 87 Sierra Leonean female adult trafficking victims in the defendants’ property until the Sierra Leonean embassy in Dakar repatriated them; authorities referred the other 42 adult trafficking victims identified during the reporting period to an international organization for care. The Ministry of Women, Family, Gender, and Child Protection (MWFGCP) referred 598 children to its shelter at the Ginddi Center for care during the reporting period, compared to 359 children in the previous reporting period. An NGO in Saint Louis identified and cared for an additional 164 child trafficking victims. During the reporting period, the government implemented the third phase of its “Le retrait des enfants de la rue” campaign to remove vulnerable children, including forced begging victims, from the street in Dakar following similar operations in 2016 and 2018; the government identified and referred to care 6,187 vulnerable children, including potential trafficking victims, during the campaign. The government placed children at the Ginddi Center or temporary shelters outside of Dakar until they could be returned to their families or placed with a foster family. Each child received medical care, clothing, food, and psycho-social support. Some religious leaders continued to mobilize against the campaign, placing immense pressure on officials to discontinue the effort. Officials observed children back in the streets after having returned them to their families. Despite law enforcement officials accompanying child protection actors to ensure the actors’ safety during the operations, authorities did not initiate investigations of suspected traffickers following the identification of forced begging victims. As in past phases, this practice inhibited subsequent investigations and prosecutions of traffickers and failed to deter future exploitation.
Authorities inconsistently applied the victim referral system, and it was not available in all regions of the country. Authorities referred victims identified along Senegal’s borders to an international organization and government center for questioning before referring them to NGOs or government centers for protective services. In Dakar and rural areas, law enforcement, civil society, and community protection groups generally referred children to the government or NGOs for social services and repatriation; however, authorities were not always aware of the shelters and services available, especially for adults, which at times caused delays in the provision of services.
The Ginddi Center, under the aegis of the MWFGCP, provided temporary shelter and basic care to both foreign and domestic child victims. The government provided 269.8 million West African CFA francs (FCFA) ($510,020) to the Ginddi Center in 2020, an increase compared with 150 million FCFA ($283,550) in 2019. The center provided meals, shelter, psycho-social care, clothing, and vocational training; two staff nurses provided basic medical care. The center expanded its capacity but continued to lack space, limiting the number of victims authorities could remove from exploitation and how long victims could remain at the center. As a result, the government at times sent victims to the center for immediate services, and then to NGOs or to partner daaras—which the government had certified met capacity, hygiene, and security standards and did not engage in forced begging—that provided children with follow-on support until family reunification. The pandemic further strained providers’ limited resources and insufficient staffing levels, and delayed victims’ reintegration. The Ministry of Justice operated three shelters (CPAs) for child victims of crime, witnesses, and children in emergency situations, which child trafficking victims could access. Outside of Dakar, international observers reported NGOs often had to provide critical shelter and trafficking victim services due to a lack of government resources. Shelter and services for adult victims remained severely inadequate. Several NGOs operated shelters for trafficking victims throughout the country; however, only one private shelter located in Dakar could accommodate female adult victims, while no shelters were available for male adult victims. The Ministry of Health and Social Action organized a two-day training for approximately 30 officials on child protection issues; the Ministry of Justice, through the Department of Supervised Education and Social Protection, also participated in the training to discuss administrative and judicial procedures for child trafficking cases.
The law provided alternatives to the removal of foreign victims who may face hardship or retribution upon return, including the option to apply for temporary or permanent residency; the government did not report how many victims received this relief during the reporting period. The 2005 anti-trafficking law includes provisions for victim protection during trials including allowing video-taped testimony; the government did not report using these provisions during the reporting period. Victims could legally obtain restitution; the government did not report requesting restitution during the reporting period. Victims could file civil suits against their traffickers; however, no victims reportedly used this provision during the reporting period and many victims were unaware of the option.