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Guinea (Tier 2 Watch List)

The Government of Guinea does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. These efforts included initiating more investigations, identifying and referring more victims to services, and issuing an emergency anti- trafficking national action plan (NAP) to supplement the 2020-2022 NAP. The government established a hotline and allocated resources to the anti-trafficking committee (CNLTPPA). However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, even considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity. Substantial personnel turnover related to the September 2021 coup d’état and subsequent formation of the transition government hindered Guinea’s ability to maintain consistent anti-trafficking efforts. The government did not provide data on its prosecution of trafficking cases and did not amend its penal code to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment for forced begging, unlike other grave crimes. While the government convicted more traffickers than during the previous reporting period, traffickers received sentences that did not serve to deter the crime or adequately reflect the nature of the offense. Shelter services for victims remained insufficient, and the government did not support NGOs providing care to victims. Despite the prevalence of forced child begging in Quranic schools, Guinean authorities have never prosecuted a Quranic teacher for forced begging. Because the government has devoted sufficient resources to a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards, Guinea was granted a waiver per the Trafficking Victims Protection Act from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3. Therefore Guinea remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict suspected traffickers and complicit officials and sentence convicted traffickers to significant prison terms.
  • Amend the penal code to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment and ensure penalties prescribed for forced begging are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes.
  • Significantly increase efforts to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, including children in Quranic schools, workers in artisanal mining sites, women traveling to the Middle East in potential fraudulent recruitment schemes, Cuban medical professionals, and North Korean workers, and refer trafficking victims to appropriate services.
  • Allocate dedicated funding to the Office for the Protection of Gender, Children, and Morals (OPROGEM) to enable criminal investigations.
  • Increase funding and in-kind support for NGOs to ensure all identified trafficking victims receive services.
  • Train law enforcement and service providers on standard procedures to identify trafficking victims and refer them to services.
  • Provide OPROGEM and labor inspectors the resources and training necessary to monitor recruitment agencies and investigate forced labor cases.
  • Establish a uniform and comprehensive data collection system on anti- trafficking efforts, distinguishing human trafficking from other crimes.
  • Increase efforts to raise public awareness of trafficking, including internal trafficking, child forced labor, and forced begging, including in Quranic schools.
  • Strengthen the CNLTPPA’s authority to implement anti-trafficking policy and coordinate activities and information sharing among agencies conducting anti-trafficking work.
  • Develop and implement extradition agreements for traffickers with countries in Africa and the Middle East.

PROSECUTION

The government maintained mixed anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Article 323 and 324 of the penal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of three to seven years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both for trafficking offenses involving an adult victim, and five to 10 years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both for those involving a child victim. These penalties were sufficiently stringent; however, by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the penalties for sex trafficking were not commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Under Article 893 and 894 of the children’s code, child trafficking crimes were prescribed penalties of five to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 50 million to 100 million Guinean francs ($5,410-$10,830); these penalties were commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. Article 343 of the penal code separately criminalized forced begging and prescribed penalties of one to three years’ imprisonment and a fine; these penalties were not sufficiently stringent.

Insecurity across the country hindered the government’s collection of law enforcement statistics. The government did not report comprehensive law enforcement data, and due to poor record keeping and the conflation of trafficking with other crimes, law enforcement data on trafficking likely included migrant smuggling or child labor cases. In 2021, the government reported initiating investigations into 46 trafficking cases, compared with one investigation in 2020, and continued investigations of 11 trafficking cases initiated in the previous reporting period. The government reported investigating trafficking cases during the reporting period but did not provide details on the cases investigated, compared with prosecuting 45 alleged traffickers the previous year. Courts convicted 24 traffickers and acquitted one trafficker, compared with 20 convictions during the previous reporting period. Of the 24 convictions, 23 traffickers received a sentence of one year or less, and one trafficker received a fine, which did not serve to deter the crime or adequately reflect the nature of the offense. The Special Brigade for the Protection of Vulnerable Persons (BSPPV) and OPROGEM were the lead government entities responsible for investigating trafficking cases, and the General Secretary for Special Services, Counter-Narcotics, and Combating Organized Crime could investigate transnational trafficking cases. Designated magistrates in the Ministry of Justice prosecuted trafficking cases. Despite the prevalence of Guinean children exploited in forced begging in Quranic schools in Guinea and surrounding countries, the government has never prosecuted a Quranic teacher for forced child begging.

The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking crimes; however, corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action during the year. The lack of extradition agreements with countries in Africa and the Middle East impeded prosecutions of traffickers from those countries. The government cooperated with Sierra Leonean officials on the arrest and prosecution of a Sierra Leonean woman arrested for trafficking 11 children in Guinea.

The government dedicated a budget to OPROGEM for the first time since 2016 and also dedicated land and funding to construct a new headquarters location for the agency. Police resources normally dedicated to anti-trafficking efforts were diverted to pandemic safety protocols enforcement. Officials reported that a lack of general knowledge about trafficking and trafficking provisions under the 2016 penal code persisted among government officials, especially judges and prosecutors in lower courts. The government, in partnership with a foreign government and NGOs, trained police cadets, gendarmes, and judicial police on anti- trafficking enforcement procedures, victim referral, and investigative techniques related to human trafficking. The government reported one training for prosecutors and judges on trafficking and trafficking networks, compared with no trainings the previous year. The government provided anti-trafficking training manuals to both the police and gendarme academy staff.

PROTECTION

The government increased protection efforts. The government reported identifying 291 trafficking victims—225 forced labor trafficking victims, including 72 children, and 66 sex trafficking victims, including 20 children. The government reported NGOs identified an additional 128 forced labor trafficking victims, 20 of whom were children. This compared with the government identifying 212 trafficking victims in the previous reporting period: 200 forced labor victims and 12 sex trafficking victims. The government referred 220 potential victims to services—176 sex trafficking victims, including 36 children, and 44 labor trafficking victims, all children—compared with no victims referred to care in the previous year. Lack of training and coordination between ministries, as well as inconsistent and sometimes unavailable government services, continued to inhibit victim identification and assistance efforts.

The government had standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification and referral to services developed in collaboration with an international organization. In October 2021, the government developed a standardized victim referral manual for vulnerable populations, including trafficking victims, seeking legal and judicial assistance. The government reported offering trafficking victims psychosocial assistance, legal services, and economic support for income generating activities; however, the government continued to rely on NGOs and foreign donors to provide and fund the majority of victim care. NGOs lacked adequate resources for victim services, and observers reported there were not enough shelters to support victims. Observers reported LGBTQI+ persons and individuals engaged in commercial sex faced challenges in accessing services.

An international organization-funded transit center for returning migrants and child trafficking victims was the only available shelter to host trafficking victims at the end of the reporting period; the Ministry of Women’s Promotion and Childhood provided social workers who ran the shelter in collaboration with the international organization. The center could provide emergency and short-term services before referring children for long-term care. The government did not report referring any victims to the shelter during the reporting period. Government health facilities and social workers could provide medical and psycho-social services. In response to the pandemic, the government provided the reception center with protective kits, including masks and handwashing liquid. NGOs reported law enforcement referred child trafficking victims to NGOs on an ad hoc basis. If NGO shelters were unavailable, the Ministry of Social Action could place child victims with host families. The government reported pandemic-related travel restrictions hindered victim protection efforts and made it more difficult for victims to access services.

The government did not have a formal policy to encourage victims to assist in investigations and prosecutions against their alleged traffickers. Reports indicated victims and their parents were reluctant to file claims against traffickers due to a lack of confidence in the judicial system. Judges could allow victims to provide testimony via video or written statements; however, no victims reportedly did so during the reporting period. The government partnered with a law firm to offer legal assistance to women and child trafficking victims and provided assistance to 22 victims. NGO-operated legal clinics and the national human rights association provided advice and support to victims of crime, including trafficking victims. Officials reported victims underutilized the legal clinics due to lack of awareness. The 2016 penal code allowed NGOs to become plaintiffs on behalf of victims; the government did not report if NGOs utilized this provision during the reporting period. Victims could legally obtain restitution from the government; the government reported courts ordered restitution but did not provide details. Victims could file civil suits against their traffickers; however, no victims pursued this option, largely due to lack of awareness. The government did not have formal policies to provide temporary or permanent residency to victims from countries where, if repatriated, they would face hardship or retribution, but it could provide work and residency permits to victims on an ad hoc basis; ECOWAS nationals did not require special status to remain in Guinea. The government did not report any victims requesting these services during the reporting period. Due to weak victim identification efforts, authorities may have detained some unidentified trafficking victims.

PREVENTION

The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. The CNLTPPA, the government’s anti-trafficking coordinating body, met regularly during the reporting period. The Ministry of Women, Children, and Vulnerable Persons led the committee, which included the ministries of Justice, Security, Labor, Foreign Affairs, and Defense. For the second time in six years, the government allocated funds for equipment, supplies, and a dedicated communications budget to the CNLTPPA to support implementation of the 2020-2022 anti-trafficking NAP. The government issued an Emergency Action Plan, which supplemented the existing NAP and assigned agency leads. Despite this, lack of personnel and coordination, social unrest, and the pandemic hindered the government’s efforts to combat trafficking, conduct trainings, and hold public awareness raising events during the reporting period. Observers noted the CNLTPPA lacked authority to effectively implement anti-trafficking policy and coordinate government activities.

The CNLTPPA, in partnership with civil society and foreign donors, organized several awareness campaigns on trafficking prevention and visited rural villages to discuss trafficking. In December, the government established a hotline run by the gendarmerie to field calls concerning violence, abuse, labor violations, and trafficking. The government did not report statistics for how many calls the new hotline received. A separate, NGO-run hotline for victims of gender-based violence has existed since 2005; it fielded 850 calls in 2021. According to an NGO evaluation, 68 percent of the hotline’s calls had trafficking indicators. The government had policies to regulate foreign labor recruiters and hold them civilly and criminally liable for fraudulent recruitment; however, neither OPROGEM nor the Ministry of Labor had the resources or the trained personnel to monitor and enforce these policies consistently and did not report referring any potential cases for investigation. The government prohibited recruitment agencies from assessing recruitment fees. Despite the prevalence of child forced labor, labor inspectors conducted 120 inspections and did not report finding any child labor violations. The government did not report providing training on child labor laws. The government did not report if the Ministry of Social Action continued coordinating interagency border control units to ensure children crossing international borders were traveling with their families. The government did not report making efforts to address forced begging in Quranic schools in Guinea or neighboring West African countries. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex.

The government did not report providing anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel. The government provided human rights training, including anti-trafficking training, to its troops prior to their deployment as peacekeepers; international and Guinean officials provided this training to 800 Guinean MINUSMA personnel during the reporting period. Although not explicitly reported as human trafficking, there was one open case of alleged sexual exploitation with trafficking indicators by a Guinean peacekeeper deployed to the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019; the UN substantiated the allegations and repatriated the offender. The government had not yet reported the accountability measures taken, if any, by the end of the reporting period.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Guinea, and traffickers exploit victims from Guinea abroad. Populations vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking in Guinea include individuals in commercial sex, including those from ECOWAS and other nations, adults and children working in the informal labor sector, homeless and orphaned children, artisanal miners, children and adults with albinism, and persons suffering severe mental illnesses. Traffickers exploit boys in forced labor in begging, street vending, shoe shining, mining for gold and diamonds, herding, fishing, and agriculture, including farming and on coffee, cashew, and cocoa plantations. Some government entities and NGOs allege that within Guinea, forced labor is most prevalent in the mining sector. Traffickers exploit adults and children in forced labor in agriculture. Reports indicate children are sent to the coastal region of Boke for forced labor on farms. Children from villages in Middle and Upper Guinea may be more vulnerable to trafficking due to the region’s lack of schools and economic opportunities. Due to pandemic-related economic disruptions in the informal sector and school closures, observers reported an increase in Guinean adults and children seeking employment in artisanal gold mines and subsequently being exploited in forced labor and sex trafficking. Government officials recognize the town of Koundara in northwestern Guinea as a transit point for traffickers.

Traffickers, often distant relatives, promise to care for or provide an education to poorer relatives’ children and instead exploit them in domestic servitude or forced begging. There are reports of Quranic schools in which teachers force or coerce talibes to beg, sometimes with their parents’ knowledge. Some traffickers fraudulently recruit children under the pretext of educational opportunities and instead exploit them in forced begging in Quranic schools in Senegal—via the town of Koundara, Guinea. Students are trafficked along routes through Mali and Guinea-Bissau. Traffickers exploit Guinean children in forced labor in Cote d’Ivoire. Guinea is a transit country for West African children subjected to forced labor in artisanal gold mining throughout the region. A small number of girls from West African countries migrate to Guinea, where traffickers exploit them in domestic service, street vending, and—to a lesser extent—sex trafficking. Child sex trafficking is prevalent in Conakry and in mining towns and camps in Lower and Upper Guinea. North Koreans working in the mining, construction, fishing, and health sectors and in commercial sex may have been forced to work by the North Korean government. Cuban medical professionals working in Guinea may have been forced to work by the Cuban government. Guinean authorities alleged traffickers coerce People’s Republic of China (PRC) women into commercial sex in PRC national-owned bars and restaurants in Conakry.

Traffickers exploit Guinean women and girls in forced labor for domestic service and sex trafficking in West Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, as well as the United States. During a previous reporting period, there were reports Guinean-Egyptian trafficking networks fraudulently recruit women for domestic work in Egypt and exploit them in commercial sex. Irregular migrants traveling to Europe are vulnerable to trafficking networks facilitating travel by land from Guinea to North Africa and subsequently exploiting migrants in forced labor or sex trafficking. Reports indicate that trafficking networks fraudulently recruit Guinean, Liberian, and Sierra Leonean women for work abroad, using the Conakry airport to transport victims to exploitative situations in Kuwait and Qatar. In a previous reporting period, an international organization reported an increase in fraudulent recruitment for forced labor in domestic service in the Middle East, especially Egypt and Kuwait. There have been reports some Guinean men marry Guinean girls, take them to Angola, and sell the girls to local brothels while the men work in diamond mines. In previous years, authorities identified Guinean forced labor victims in Finland.

U.S. Department of State

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