Equatorial Guinea is a source and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The majority of trafficking victims are exploited in Malabo and Bata, where burgeoning construction and economic activity funded by oil wealth have contributed to increases in the demand for cheap labor and prostitution. Equatoguinean girls are exploited in the sex trade in these cities, and some parents may encourage their daughters to engage in prostitution, especially with foreigners, to receive groceries, gifts, housing, and money. Children are transported from nearby countries—primarily Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Togo, and Gabon—and may be forced to work as domestic servants, market laborers, ambulant vendors, and launderers. Women from Cameroon, Benin, and other neighboring countries are recruited for work in Equatorial Guinea, but may be subsequently subjected to forced labor or forced prostitution. Some Chinese women migrate to Equatorial Guinea for work or to engage in prostitution and may be subject to passport confiscation. Sub-contractor staff in the oil services and construction sectors, including migrants from other parts of Africa, Asia, and the Americas, may be vulnerable to forced labor, as they reportedly endure sub-standard working conditions and, in some instances, may be subject to passport confiscation.
The Government of Equatorial Guinea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government demonstrated no efforts to identify victims of human trafficking, to provide victims with necessary services, or to prosecute traffickers, despite having a 2004 anti-trafficking law that prohibits all forms of trafficking. The government continued to deport undocumented migrants without screening them to determine whether they were victims of trafficking or referring them to assistance services; it rarely notified foreign embassies that their nationals had been detained. The government failed to provide any training for government officials or civil society members, or undertake any public awareness campaigns related to human trafficking. Its Inter-Ministerial Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons remained inactive. Given its substantial financial resources, the government’s response to human trafficking has been negligible.
Recommendations for Equatorial Guinea:
Use the 2004 anti-trafficking law to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders and complicit officials; develop formal procedures to identify trafficking victims among child laborers, illegal immigrants, and women and girls in prostitution; dedicate funding for the sheltering and protection of trafficking victims and develop a formal system to refer victims to such care; train law enforcement officials, immigration officials, and social workers in the use of trafficking victim identification and referral procedures; cease summary deportation of foreign men, women, and children from Equatoguinean territory without first screening them to determine if they are trafficking victims and, if appropriate, providing them with care and safe, voluntary repatriation; notify embassies when their nationals have been detained; revive the Inter-Ministerial Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons and dedicate sufficient resources to the commission so it can effectively implement a national action plan to combat trafficking in persons and research the extent and nature of the problem of human trafficking within the country; and launch a nationwide anti-trafficking public awareness campaign.
The Government of Equatorial Guinea demonstrated negligible anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. The 2004 Law on the Smuggling of Migrants and Trafficking in Persons prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties of 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment, punishments which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Despite having enacted an anti-trafficking law and receiving reports of child trafficking, the government initiated no investigations or prosecutions of suspected trafficking offenses during the year. The government did not provide any anti-trafficking training to law enforcement officials. The government did not report any investigations or prosecutions of government employees for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period.
The Government of Equatorial Guinea made negligible efforts to protect trafficking victims during the reporting period. It did not identify or refer any victims to protective services in 2013. Although the 2004 anti-trafficking law mandates that the government provide legal assistance, psychological and medical care, counseling, lodging, food, access to education, training, and employment opportunities to trafficking victims, the government provided no such services. Church-run orphanages, with scholarships provided by the Equatoguinean government, provided care for possible Equatoguinean child trafficking victims; foreign children continued to be deported summarily.
Law enforcement authorities did not employ procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking and did not make efforts—in either a systematic or an ad hoc way—to refer victims to organizations that provide short- or long-term care. Although the Ministry of National Security claimed it had procedures to screen illegal immigrants detained at the border, these procedures proved ineffective in identifying trafficking victims. The absence of a proactive victim identification process, including procedures for screening deportees, impaired the government’s ability to provide care or assistance to foreign trafficking victims. The government did not report that any victims of human trafficking were detained, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked; however, the government detained foreign nationals, including potential trafficking victims, at police stations for periods of several days to several months, and seldom notified their embassies of their detention or deportation. The overwhelming majority of those detained were young men, though children and women were also sometimes detained and deported. The government did not provide foreign trafficking victims with temporary or permanent resident status, or any other legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they might face retribution or hardship.
The Government of Equatorial Guinea demonstrated a decrease in its efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. It did not launch any anti-trafficking informational or educational campaigns for the general public, and the Inter-Ministerial Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons remained inactive. The government did not participate in or implement any programs to address forced child labor and did not identify a single child labor victim despite having approximately 100 labor inspectors dedicated to documenting labor infractions. It did not undertake any discernible measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor during the year. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to Equatoguinean troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.