GUINEA-BISSAU: Tier 3
Guinea-Bissau is a source country for children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The extent to which adults are subjected to forced labor or forced prostitution is unclear. Many Bissau-Guinean boys attend Koranic schools led by religious teachers, known as marabouts; some corrupt or unscrupulous marabouts force such boys into begging in Guinea Bissau. Some marabouts subsequently transport boys to Senegal or, to a lesser extent, Mali or Guinea, for the same purpose. The principal traffickers are men from the regions of Bafata and Gabu—often former students of the marabouts, known as talibes—who are generally well-known within the communities in which they operate. Bissau-Guinean boys are subjected to forced labor in street vending in Guinea-Bissau and in manual labor in the agriculture sector and mining in Senegal. Bissau-Guinean girls are subjected to forced labor in street vending and domestic servitude in Guinea and Senegal; a smaller number may be subjected to child prostitution in these countries.
The Government of Guinea-Bissau does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Although an elected constitutional government assumed power in June 2014, it did not demonstrate any progress over the reporting period, compared with the anti-trafficking efforts during the previous transitional government’s administration. Despite enacting an anti-trafficking law and finalizing and adopting a national action plan in 2011, the government failed to demonstrate any notable anti-trafficking efforts for a third consecutive year. It did not take law enforcement action against suspected trafficking crimes, identify or provide adequate protection to trafficking victims, conduct any prevention activities, or implement its national action plan in 2014.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GUINEA-BISSAU:
Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders, including unscrupulous marabouts who use talibes for forced begging; provide anti-trafficking training to law enforcement, labor, and social welfare officials on victim identification and referral and case investigation techniques; train judicial personnel about the 2011 anti-trafficking law; reconvene the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Trafficking and allocate specific funds for the implementation of the national action plan; establish a formal victim referral mechanism between the government, NGOs, and international organizations providing care to trafficking victims; improve data collection efforts, including the number of victims identified and referred to protective services; and make efforts to raise public awareness on human trafficking.
The government failed to demonstrate any notable law enforcement efforts. Public Law 12/2011 prohibits all forms of human trafficking and prescribes penalties of three to 15 years’ imprisonment and the confiscation of any proceeds from the crime. The 2009 child code prohibits all forms of child trafficking and prescribes penalties of three to 10 years’ imprisonment and the confiscation of any proceeds from the crime. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government, however, did not use these or other existing laws to prosecute trafficking cases during the reporting period. In March 2015, the Judicial Police commenced an investigation of potential child labor trafficking; the investigation was ongoing at the close of the reporting period. Guinea-Bissau’s judicial system lacks sufficient human and physical capital to function properly and corruption remains pervasive. The government did not provide any specialized training to law enforcement officials on investigating or prosecuting trafficking crimes. It did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses; however, observers report that some police and border guards might accept bribes from trafficking offenders.
The government made inadequate efforts to identify and protect victims, although it provided modest financial assistance to one NGO that cared for trafficking victims. The government did not provide any statistics on the number of victims identified during the reporting period, though an NGO reported it had identified and provided services to 104 Bissau-Guinean child victims in its transit centers in 2014. The government did not make systematic efforts to identify victims proactively and, although it occasionally referred victims to NGOs and international organizations, it continued to rely entirely on these entities to provide all victim assistance. During the reporting period, the government contributed five million West African CFA francs ($9,280) to an NGO that operated two multipurpose shelters that provided care for an unknown number of victims; these facilities were severely underfunded and understaffed. There was no specialized care available to trafficking victims. While the government did not initiate any prosecutions during the reporting period, officials reported efforts to encourage adult family members and neighbors to participate in legal proceedings against suspected child traffickers. The government does not provide legal alternatives to removal to countries in which victims would face retribution or hardship. There was no evidence the government detained, fined, or jailed trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of their being subjected to trafficking.
The government did not make any tangible efforts to prevent trafficking in persons. There is no evidence the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Trafficking, established in 2009 to coordinate the government’s anti-trafficking efforts, continued to exist or that the government had taken any steps to implement the national action plan adopted by the previous government in 2011. This plan also obligates the government to contribute to anti-trafficking efforts from its general funds each year; however, with the exception of the funds allocated to the aforementioned NGO, no additional funds were dedicated to anti-trafficking efforts in 2014. The government took no 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 diplomats prior to their deployment abroad.