Senegal is a source, transit, and destination country for children and women who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Children, most of whom are talibes—students attending daaras (Koranic schools) run by teachers known as marabouts—are forced to beg throughout Senegal. In Dakar alone, approximately 30,200 talibes beg in the streets. Senegalese boys and girls are also subjected to domestic servitude, forced labor in gold mines, and exploitation in the sex trade. Internal trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking, although boys from The Gambia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea have been identified in forced begging and forced labor in artisanal gold mines and agriculture in Senegal. Senegalese women and girls are transported to neighboring countries, Europe, and the Middle East for domestic servitude. NGO observers believe most women and girls exploited in prostitution remain in Senegal. Senegalese women and girls were increasingly exploited in prostitution in the southeast gold-mining region of Kedougou, in addition to women and girls from Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mali. Women and girls from other West African countries, particularly Liberia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, are subjected to domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation in Senegal, including for sex tourism. Cambodian fishermen have been identified as trafficking victims aboard fishing vessels in Senegal’s territorial waters.
The Government of Senegal does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increased law enforcement efforts, reporting three investigations, two prosecutions, and one conviction; the government reported no law enforcement efforts in the previous reporting period. The government also maintained modest protection efforts by identifying and providing services to child victims of trafficking, providing increased funding to the National Taskforce against Trafficking Especially of Women and Children, and conducting two awareness campaigns for media and the general public. Despite these efforts, the government did not identify or provide services to any adult victims, did not take law enforcement efforts against unscrupulous marabouts engaged in forced begging, and did not adequately regulate the informal sectors of the economy, such as mining or agriculture, to ensure the prevention of forced labor.
Recommendations for Senegal:
Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; improve efforts to collect law enforcement data on trafficking offenses, including cases prosecuted under separate statutes in the penal code; provide anti-trafficking training to law enforcement, labor, and social welfare officials on how to adequately identify victims, investigate cases, and refer victims to appropriate services; develop standardized procedures for referring trafficking victims to NGO care services and socialize these mechanisms among government officials and the NGO community; provide appropriate funding to expand government-funded shelters or partner with international organizations or NGOs to establish wider sheltering options for trafficking victims; expand labor inspections and labor trafficking investigations in the informal sector of the economy; and increase efforts to raise public awareness about trafficking, including the trafficking of adults.
The Government of Senegal demonstrated slightly increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Senegal’s 2005 Law to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Related Practices and to Protect Victims prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties of five to 10 years’ imprisonment for violations, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government did not maintain or publish comprehensive statistics relating to human trafficking law enforcement efforts for the second consecutive year. However, the government reported two prosecutions and one conviction, both involving the prostitution of girls in the gold mining region of Kedougou. In one case, a trafficker was convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, a fine of the equivalent of approximately $10,500 to be paid to the government, and a fine of the equivalent of approximately $3,000 to be paid to the victim. The second prosecution was pending at the close of the reporting period. Additionally, in March 2013, Senegalese police intercepted a truck from Guinea that was transporting 20 children to work in gold mines in Saraya, some of whom authorities believed were potential trafficking victims; one alleged trafficker was initially arrested, but eventually sent back to Guinea through coordination with Guinean law enforcement. Despite the increasingly prevalent issue of forced begging by unscrupulous Koranic school teachers, the government failed to take any law enforcement actions against this form of trafficking during the reporting period.
In June 2013, the National Taskforce Against Trafficking Especially of Women and Children (national taskforce), the government’s designated coordinating body for anti-trafficking efforts, co-hosted a three-day training session funded by international organizations for 30 police officers and border protection agents responsible for enforcing the 2005 anti-trafficking law. Many law enforcement and judicial personnel remained unaware of the anti-trafficking law’s existence and may have used other statutes to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases; this lack of awareness continued to hinder efforts to collect data on human trafficking law enforcement efforts. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking.
The Government of Senegal maintained modest efforts to identify child trafficking victims and provide them with protective services. The government identified and offered services to at least 155 child trafficking victims, including 73 children from Guinea-Bissau; the majority of these children were victims of forced begging. This signifies an increase from the 110 child trafficking victims reported during the last reporting period. The Guinddy Center, the only government-run shelter in Senegal, provided protective services to all 155 victims; the government provided the equivalent of approximately $73,000 to the center in 2013 to provide child victims with shelter, food, medical and psychological care, family mediation and reconciliation services, and limited education and vocational training. This funding was a decrease from the $100,000 appropriated in 2012, and the center remained underfunded and lacked the resources to adequately pay its staff or provide any specialized training for the social workers who counsel street children and victims of trafficking. The 73 victims from Guinea-Bissau were repatriated with the assistance of international organizations and NGOs. During the year, the Guinddy Center’s child protection hotline received 3,704 calls concerning children in distress or requesting information; an unknown number of these calls concerned cases of human trafficking. Government social services reported identifying an unknown number of victims of labor and sex trafficking in the isolated Kedougou mining region, but it is unclear whether the government formally identified or provided any of these victims with services.
The government referred an unknown number of child trafficking victims to NGO-run shelters. It does not have a formal referral mechanism in place to facilitate and standardize the process and does not provide funding or other support to such shelters. The government failed to identify any adult victims of trafficking during the reporting period. Senegal’s law provides legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims who may face retribution or hardship upon returning to their home countries, including the option to apply for temporary or permanent residency status; however, the government did not indicate whether it provided any victims this immigration relief during the reporting period. The government encouraged two trafficking victims to participate in the investigation or prosecution of their traffickers during the reporting period. The 2005 anti-trafficking law absolves victims from responsibility for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked, and there were no reports that victims were penalized for these unlawful acts in 2013.
The Government of Senegal maintained modest efforts to prevent human trafficking. It allocated the equivalent of approximately $100,000 to the national taskforce in 2013, which was used to begin implementation of the 2012-2014 national action plan; this amount is a significant increase from the 2012 budget of $20,000. In May 2013, the national taskforce conducted a seven-day outreach campaign for 20 media and journalism personnel in the regions of Kedougou, Koumpentoum, and Nioro; the campaign highlighted the growing issue of trafficking in artisanal gold mining regions of Kedougou and called for more in-depth reporting. In November 2013, the national taskforce, in partnership with an international organization, conducted a public awareness event to expand the public’s understanding of the definition of trafficking; this event was attended by approximately 5,000 members of the public. It also continued implementation of a mapping project, jointly funded by the Millennium Challenge Account taskforce and a foreign donor, of all daaras in Dakar. Despite this initial effort, exploitation and abuse of talibes continued to occur on a large scale, and the government did not fund or make discernible efforts to implement the national action plan on child begging, which was adopted in February 2013.
Approximately 70 percent of Senegal’s economy operated in the informal sector and it is within this sector that most forced child labor occurs; however, there was no evidence that the Ministry of Labor made efforts to regulate the informal sector during the reporting period. Despite a significant increase in labor and sex trafficking in the mining sector, the government did not make any discernible efforts to decrease the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts during the reporting period. The government did not provide specific anti-trafficking training to Senegalese troops before their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions, but troops did receive training in general human rights, gender violence, and international rule of law.