The government maintained victim protection efforts. Due to a lack of coordinated data collection at the national level, the government did not report comprehensive data. The government reported identifying 223 trafficking victims, compared with 72 victims identified in the previous reporting period. Unlike in prior years, authorities did not disaggregate victim identification data by type of trafficking; given the government’s tendency to conflate human trafficking with other crimes, this figure may have included victims of crimes not involving forced labor or sex trafficking. In addition to victims identified by the government, NGOs and international organizations reported identifying and assisting at least 1,457 potential victims, providing them with services, including medical care, social reintegration, education, and repatriation assistance for Malagasy nationals exploited in domestic servitude abroad. The government remained without official SOPs to proactively identify trafficking victims and refer them to care; instead, there were disparate SOPs across different ministries that officials used to varying degrees. Government officials continued to have access to a victim identification and referral manual developed by an international organization; however, the government did not actively distribute the manual and use of the procedures remained minimal. The government did not proactively screen vulnerable populations, including child laborers, women exploited in commercial sex, returning Malagasy migrant workers, and foreign workers, for trafficking indicators.
The government provided assistance to 178 victims, compared with 37 victims assisted with services in 2021. The Mitsinjo Center, a government-owned, trafficking-specific temporary shelter for repatriated adult victims, continued to operate with a capacity to house 22 occupants; the government assisted 178 victims of domestic servitude at the shelter. The government provided consular assistance, including providing travel documents, and psycho-social services to Malagasy migrant workers repatriated from Gulf states and other African countries; however, the government did not report screening this population for trafficking. The Ministry of Population (MOP), in collaboration with an international organization, continued to coordinate approximately 700 child protection networks across the country to assist child victims of abuse, including trafficking, and ensure victims’ access to medical and psychological services. Due to lack of resources, only about 450 child protection networks provided basic assistance through public hospitals and health units and most of the networks referred victims to international organizations and NGOs for additional assistance. Through referral from the child protection networks, an international organization assisted 1,352 children (528 girls and 824 boys), including victims of sexual exploitation and the worst forms of child labor, both including potential child trafficking crimes. Six government hospitals, in partnership with an international organization, maintained “one-stop” victim support centers that offered assistance to child victims of various abuses, including sex trafficking; the one-stop support centers – located in Antananarivo, Mahajanga, Nosy Be, Toamasina, Tolagnaro, and Toliara – offered victims medical assistance and psychological support through social workers and provided victims access to police to file complaints. The government reported assisting 1,415 children (including 21 boys) at these facilities; however, the government did not report screening these children for trafficking indicators. The government continued to operate and fund the Manjary Soa Center in Antananarivo, which received 35 children who had been removed from situations of exploitation, including forced labor in domestic work or street vending. This center provided vocational training or reintegration into the public school system and allowed victims to stay at the center for one school year. The city of Antananarivo continued to manage an emergency center for child victims of crime, including domestic servitude and forced begging victims. The city government, in partnership with an international organization, reportedly provided food, lodging, psychological and medical aid, and educational services to victims; however, the government did not report the number of victims served at the center. The government, in partnership with an international organization, operated two specialized centers for gender-based violence victims, including potential trafficking victims. The MOP, in partnership with an international organization, continued to operate foster care programs for exploited children in Antisiranana and Nosy Be; the government did not provide the number of children assisted through the program for the fourth consecutive reporting period.
Due to a lack of formal identification procedures, authorities may have detained unidentified victims. In previous years, police sometimes arrested child sex trafficking victims without screening or identifying them as victims and would sometimes temporarily keep potential transnational labor trafficking victims in police stations due to a lack of alternative accommodations. Observers reported employers often sued former child domestic workers to avoid paying accumulated unpaid salaries in cases where victims reported their abuse; despite documenting cases where employers sued child victims of domestic servitude, the government did not report investigating these incidents for potential trafficking crimes or screening the children for trafficking indicators. The 2014 anti-trafficking law mandated trafficking trials be held in private, with the option for video-conferencing, to ensure witness confidentiality and privacy; however, most courts did not have adequate equipment to accommodate these procedures. While the 2014 anti-trafficking law entitled victims to restitution, for the ninth consecutive year, the government did not implement this provision. The 2014 anti-trafficking law required authorities to consider legal alternatives for foreign trafficking victims who believed they may face hardship or retribution if returned to their country of origin.