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. Draft amendments to the Code of Child Protection that would harmonize it with international law on human trafficking remained pending before the legislature for the third consecutive year.
The government did not report the total number of investigations initiated but did report investigating cases involving 92 potential trafficking victims, all suspected forced begging cases, during the reporting period, compared with 34 case investigations, including eight forced begging and 26 sex trafficking cases, during the previous reporting period. The government did not report any prosecutions for the third consecutive year. The government has never convicted a trafficker under the anti- trafficking law. Despite the prevalence of Bissau-Guinean boys exploited in neighboring countries for forced begging, the government did not cooperate with foreign counterparts on law enforcement activities. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking crimes; however, official corruption and complicity in trafficking crimes remained concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action during the year. The judicial system lacked sufficient human and physical capital to function effectively, and corruption remained pervasive. Observers alleged municipal and provincial government officials interfered in cases and derailed prosecutions of traffickers in exchange for a bribe. The government did not demonstrate political will at the highest levels of government to address human trafficking.
The Judicial Police had a specialized unit that investigated trafficking cases; however, it had limited coverage outside the capital and did not have a dedicated budget. The National Guard patrolled Guinea- Bissau’s borders and had a unit dedicated to investigating crimes involving women and children, including trafficking; however, it also did not have a dedicated budget. The National Guard and local police in rural areas lacked training to investigate human trafficking crimes and did not always refer cases to the Judicial Police, which impeded investigations. The Public Ministry did not have specialized prosecutors for trafficking cases; the ministry’s child protective services enforced court decisions in trafficking cases involving children but did not have coverage outside of the capital. The police, National Guard, judiciary, and prosecutors lacked funding, which hindered their efforts to combat human trafficking. 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 non-judicial agreements and police transferred the cases to court, officials noted community leaders often pressured courts to drop the cases. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to law enforcement or judicial officials or support NGOs conducting anti-trafficking training for the second consecutive year, and some law enforcement and judicial officials remained unaware of the 2011 anti-trafficking law.