The government maintained protection efforts. The TIP unit screened individuals in commercial sex for trafficking indicators and worked with the immigration department to improve screening of other at-risk populations, such as economic migrants, including individuals from West Africa; entertainers; and foreign workers, including those on foreign government-affiliated programs. The government had SOPs to guide law enforcement, immigration, and social services officials in the screening and identification of potential victims, although observers noted widespread official and public lack of understanding of the difference between trafficking and migrant smuggling. The government did not use the SOPs consistently when screening for forced labor. The government updated the SOPs during the reporting period to include training and additional government agencies. The TIP unit was solely responsible for victim screening and identification but received referrals from other front-line authorities. The government identified 77 potential victims, most of whom were likely smuggled migrants. The government did not identify any potential victims in 2021 or 2020 and has not identified a confirmed victim since 2019. Authorities assigned victims a care officer from the Cases Task Force, chaired by a senior police officer. The government reported it provided services including legal assistance, personal care kits, counseling, and psycho-social support to all 77 potential victims. The government reported providing two of the potential victims with additional services, including housing, meals, transportation, immigration assistance, and purchase of an airline ticket for repatriation. NGOs also provided some services to the 77 potential victims. Government services for victims were adequate. The government did not have trafficking-specific shelters, but had safe spaces for adult and child trafficking victims. The safe spaces were operated and secured by law enforcement officers. Adult victims could choose among approved accommodations, could leave accommodations unchaperoned if authorities determined it was safe for them to do so, and could choose to decline any service including accommodation. The Family and Social Services Division could provide additional services to children; however, there were no child victims during the reporting period. There was no time limit to victim care services. The Directorate of Gender Affairs’ Support and Referral Center for victims of any form of GBV could also offer services and support to trafficking victims, including legal assistance and emergency accommodation.
The government could provide temporary residency status as an alternative to removal to countries where victims may face hardship or retribution by traffickers; this assistance was not contingent on assisting law enforcement. Victims could obtain a work permit or leave the country after the Cases Task Force approved a satisfactory risk assessment. In these cases, the government contacted an international organization and the relevant local trafficking unit in the country of origin for reintegration. The TIP unit reported it worked with an international organization to repatriate a potential trafficking victim to a neighboring country and provided support to reintegrate the victim in a new community. The government informed potential victims of their rights, including that their participation in investigations and prosecutions was voluntary. The government reported victims could speak to the Directorate of Gender Affairs, a social worker, or another appropriate third party, including NGOs, to report cases or access the judicial system in addition to or instead of law enforcement. The government had a policy of not disclosing a victim’s location, providing security at the victim’s location and in transit, allowing for testimony via video link, and not disclosing a victim’s identity to the public or media. The Directorate of Gender Affairs could also assist in helping victims obtain protection orders or advocate with relevant authorities to obtain assistance to help individuals in danger leave the country. However, the government did not report receiving requests for or using any of these methods during the reporting period. Due to a lack of understanding of victim identification procedures, authorities may have failed to identify some trafficking victims. The government trained NGOs and victim service providers on victim identification and victim care.