The government decreased overall efforts to identify victims. In 2020, Ministry of Justice, Directorate-General for Child Protection (DGCP), and other officials reported the government identified a total of 132 child victims of trafficking (52 boys and 80 girls) and 43 adult victims (30 men and 13 women), compared with 225 child victims (19 boys and 206 girls) and 87 adult victims (38 men and 49 women) in 2019. Both government officials and NGOs reported pandemic regulations restricting movement as a potential factor in the reduced number of trafficking victims identified. Of the 132 child victims noted above, the government assisted 48 with psychological and health services, food, and clothing, as well as referred them to shelters; officials disclosed they provided similar services to 147 child victims in 2019. Additionally, the DGCP reported officers intercepted 250 vulnerable minors at Togo’s borders destined for Nigeria, Gabon, Benin, and Burkina Faso, and they returned the children to their families in Togo; officials did not report implementing similar measures in 2019. For the second consecutive year, the government allocated 18 million FCFA ($34,030) to child trafficking efforts, of which it designated 11 million FCFA ($20,790) for victim care. The government additionally committed to providing 600,000 FCFA ($1,130) to each of the six NGO shelters that it supports as it did in 2019, although the government reported these payments were delayed in 2020 due to lack of funds. In 2020, the government formed a 5,000-person taskforce to enforce the country’s state of emergency due to the pandemic; the participation of officials with anti-trafficking responsibilities affected the government’s ability to implement protection efforts.
Officials used written manuals from 2007 to identify and refer victims to services in coordination with NGOs; however, the manuals did not include SOPs for identifying victims among high-risk populations such as women in commercial sex. NGOs reported the government’s victim identification and referral processes were effective and the ministries of Social Affairs, Labor, and Justice were key partners on prevention, protection, and investigation efforts respectively.
In Lomé, the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) continued to run a toll-free helpline, Allo 10-11, 16 hours per day, seven days a week; officials reported identifying 13 child victims from hotline tips during the reporting period, compared with 97 child trafficking victims during the previous reporting period. The MSA provided cell phones to Allo 10-11’s network of 150 contacts to facilitate nationwide coverage and utilized an informal referral system when callers identified potential victims. The government did not report repatriating any victims for the second consecutive year.
While the government had a shelter for children, there were no such shelters specifically for adult trafficking victims, severely limiting their access to care and justice. Instead, the government referred adult trafficking victims to a center intended for victims of natural and humanitarian disasters. MSA continued to operate the Reference Center for the Guidance and Care of Children in a Difficult Situation (French acronym CROPESDI). The CROPESDI shelter, located in Lomé, received victims referred by the Allo 10-11 hotline and provided shelter, legal, medical, and social services before transferring them to care facilities managed by NGOs. The government reported that the CROPESDI shelter served 48 child trafficking victims during the reporting period. Officials did not report the number of victims other shelters served during the reporting period. Observers reported the lack of shelter options for adult victims adversely impacted efforts to investigate potential cases; in some cases, officers reported using their own resources for shelter and basic necessities for adult victims, which disincentivized some police from pursuing viable cases. The government reportedly provides foreign trafficking victims the same access to shelters as domestic victims and performs a risk evaluation before it repatriates potential victims. The government reported providing shelter services to 12 Sierra Leonian trafficking victims during the reporting period who were in transit to Dubai.
The government did not have a formal process to encourage victims’ participation in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers and did not report providing services to adult victims who testified during court proceedings. While there were no reports the government penalized any trafficking victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit, there is a risk authorities may have detained or deported some victims due to the lack of victim identification SOPs and some officials’ limited understanding of the crime.