EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Tier 3
Equatorial Guinea is a source country for children subjected to sex trafficking and a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor. The majority of trafficking victims are exploited in the cities of Malabo, Bata, Mongomo, and Oyala, 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, in exchange for groceries, gifts, housing, and money. Children from nearby countries—primarily Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Togo, and Gabon—may be forced to work as domestic servants, market laborers, ambulant vendors, and launders. 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. Significant populations of 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 both male and female 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. General corruption and complicity by government officials in trafficking-related offenses were common during the reporting period.
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 did not make efforts to identify or protect trafficking victims, or prosecute traffickers, despite having a 2004 anti-trafficking law that prohibits all forms of trafficking and mandates provision of services to victims. The government continued to deport undocumented migrants without screening them to determine whether they were victims of trafficking or referring them to assistance services. The government failed to provide any training for government officials or undertake trafficking awareness campaigns, and its inter-ministerial anti-trafficking commission remained inactive. Given its substantial financial resources and its failure to demonstrate any significant improvement from the previous reporting period, the government remains Tier 3.
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, undocumented 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 social workers, law enforcement, and immigration officials in the use of trafficking victim identification and referral procedures; cease summary deportation of foreign men, women, and children 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 based on international law, agreements, and standards; revive and dedicate resources to the inter-ministerial anti-trafficking commission to facilitate its development and implementation of a national action plan to combat trafficking in persons and research the extent and nature of the crime within the country; and launch a nationwide anti-trafficking public awareness campaign.
The government did not make 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. The government did not maintain law enforcement statistics and did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of any suspected trafficking offenders in 2014. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to law enforcement officials. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses during the reporting period; however, general corruption and official complicity in trafficking-related offenses were common during the reporting period.
The government did not make efforts to protect trafficking victims, failing to identify or refer any victims to protective services in 2014. Although the 2004 anti-trafficking law mandates the government provide legal assistance, psychological and medical care, lodging, food, access to education, training, and employment opportunities to trafficking victims, it provided no such services. Law enforcement authorities did not employ procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims or make efforts—in either a systematic or ad hoc way—to refer victims to organizations providing care. The absence of a proactive victim identification process, including procedures to screen deportees, impaired the government’s ability to assist foreign trafficking victims and ensure they were not penalized for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. Rather, the government routinely 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. In many of these cases, police and border officials solicited bribes from the detainees and deported those who did not pay. 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 legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they might face retribution or hardship.
The government did not make efforts to prevent trafficking. It did not launch any anti-trafficking awareness campaigns for the general public, and the Inter-Ministerial Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons remained inactive. The government did not implement any programs to address forced child labor or identify a single child labor victim, despite having approximately 13 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 or guidance for its diplomatic personnel.