The government increased protection efforts. For the first time, the government provided disaggregated protection data. The government reported identifying 81 trafficking victims – 71 forced labor victims, including 65 children and six adults, and 10 sex trafficking victims, all children. The government reported identifying an additional 237 potential trafficking victims. This compared with the government reporting identification of 291 trafficking victims in the previous reporting period (225 forced labor victims and 66 sex trafficking victims), which may have included victims of other crimes. The government referred all 81 identified victims and 237 potential victims to services, compared with referring 220 victims to care in the previous year. The government reported NGOs identified an additional 945 trafficking victims, including 32 sex trafficking victims (28 children and 4 adults), 274 forced labor victims (93 children and 181 adults, including three victims with disabilities), and 639 victims of other exploitation, which may have included crimes other than trafficking. 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 SOPs for victim identification and referral to services and, in collaboration with an international organization, updated its SOPs, including by mapping relevant stakeholders and their collaboration methods. The government also had a standardized victim referral manual for vulnerable populations, including trafficking victims, seeking legal and judicial assistance. For the first time, the government, in collaboration with an international organization, began screening undocumented migrants for trafficking indicators. 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. Observers reported LGBTQI+ persons and individuals in commercial sex faced challenges in accessing services.
The government opened two new shelters specifically for trafficking victims, the first of their kind in Guinea. The Ministry of Women’s Promotion, Childhood, and Vulnerable People (MoWP), the lead ministry on combatting trafficking in persons, established one shelter in Conakry with capacity for 66 people, including women and children. The second shelter, also located in Conakry, had capacity for 24 women, men, and children. During the first quarter of 2023 the shelters accommodated over 100 victims of trafficking, including 12 children. NGOs operated three shelters that could assist trafficking victims and a transit center funded by an international organization for returning migrants and child trafficking victims, which could provide emergency and short-term services and referrals for children to long-term care. Government health facilities and social workers could provide medical and psycho-social services. NGOs reported law enforcement referred child trafficking victims to NGOs on an ad hoc basis. If NGO shelters were unavailable, the MoWP could place child victims with host families.
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. While the government did not have a formal victim-witness assistance program, it provided food and transportation to court hearings for 56 trafficking victims. NGO-operated legal clinics and the national human rights association provided advice and support to victims of crime, including trafficking. 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; and courts did order restitution during the reporting period. 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 they would face hardship or retribution if repatriated, but it could provide work and residency permits to victims on an ad hoc basis; due to long standing freedom of movement policy with the Regional Economic Community, 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 inconsistent use of formal identification procedures, authorities may have detained or otherwise inappropriately penalized some unidentified trafficking victims.