SENEGAL: Tier 2
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 the region of Dakar alone, approximately 30,000 talibes are forced to beg in the streets. Senegalese boys and girls are 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 Senegalese sex trafficking victims endure exploitation within Senegal, particularly in prostitution in the southeastern gold-mining region of Kedougou. Women and girls from other West African countries are subjected to domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation in Senegal, including for sex tourism.
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 four prosecutions and four convictions in three separate cases under the 2005 anti-trafficking law. In 2014, the government convicted four traffickers, conducted an awareness campaign on forced child begging, and established a national database to assist tracking and coordinating efforts to prevent this crime. The government maintained its appropriation of funding to its under-resourced shelter for children but reduced funding to the national taskforce, from 50 million Central African CFA francs (FCFA) ($85,000) provided to support the efforts of the coordinating body in 2013 to FCFA 30 million ($51,000) in 2014. In addition, efforts to identify and assist trafficking victims decreased during the year; the government identified less than one-half the number of victims the government identified in the previous reporting period. It did not adequately regulate or inspect the informal sectors of the economy, such as mining or agriculture, in an effort to prevent forced labor and demonstrated limited and inadequate law enforcement efforts against unscrupulous marabouts engaged in forced begging.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SENEGAL:
Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, including those who exploit children in forced begging; provide adequate funding to expand government-funded shelters or partner with international organizations or NGOs to provide additional care options for victims; improve efforts to collect law enforcement data on trafficking offenses, including cases prosecuted for trafficking-related offenses under provisions other than the 2005 law; 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; expand regulations of labor inspections and labor trafficking investigations in the informal sector of the economy; implement the national action plan on forced child labor; use the daara mapping project findings to establish baseline information for the national database and inform tracking and coordination of efforts to prevent forced begging; and increase efforts to raise public awareness about trafficking, including the trafficking of adults.
The government 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. For the third consecutive year, the government did not maintain or publish comprehensive statistics on its human trafficking law enforcement efforts. The government prosecuted and obtained convictions for four defendants in three trafficking cases in southeastern Senegal and sentenced the offenders to two to 10 years’ imprisonment, in addition to fines, compared with one conviction in the previous reporting year. Despite the prevalence of forced begging by unscrupulous Koranic school teachers, the government reported only one successful conviction against this form of trafficking. It also did not report any investigations or prosecutions of perpetrators of child prostitution or forced child labor during the reporting period.
The government conducted two training programs for officials in March 2015, compared with a three-day session it had co-hosted the previous year. Many law enforcement and judicial personnel remained unaware of the 2005 anti-trafficking law, which continued to hinder efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers under the law and to collect data on prosecution and protection efforts. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government maintained modest efforts to identify and protect both child and adult trafficking victims. Government law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel have formal written procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims. However, in 2014, the government identified only 61 child trafficking victims, a significant decrease from 155 child trafficking victims identified and assisted by the government in the previous reporting period. The Ginddi Center, the only government-run shelter in Senegal, provided shelter and protection services to these 61 child victims; the amount of funding the government provided to the center for shelter, food, medical and psychological care, family mediation and reconciliation services, and limited education and vocational training was unknown, compared with FCFA 44,300,000 ($73,000) provided in 2013. 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 trafficking victims. During the year, the Ginddi Center’s child protection hotline received 2,583 calls concerning children in distress or requesting information; the number of calls concerning trafficking cases was undetermined. The government reported discovery of an unknown number of labor and sex trafficking victims in the isolated Kedougou mining region; however, it is unclear whether it formally identified or provided services to any victims.
The government did not proactively identify victims among vulnerable groups, such as those residing in gold mining communities, and referred an unknown number of child trafficking victims to NGO-run shelters. It did not have a formal victim referral mechanism and did not provide funding or other support to NGOs providing victim services. The anti-trafficking law provides 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; however, the government did not report offering this relief to any victims during the reporting period. The 2005 anti-trafficking law absolves victims from responsibility for unlawful acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking and there were no reports officials penalized victims for such acts.
The government sustained efforts to prevent human trafficking. It provided FCFA 30,000,000 ($50,000) in funding to the national taskforce in 2014, which is a significant decrease from the 2013 budget of FCFA 50,000,000 ($100,000). In October 2014, in partnership with international organizations and NGOs, the anti-trafficking taskforce sponsored an awareness program on forced child begging in Kolda, targeting children, parents, and marabouts. During this reporting period, it also presented the daara mapping project for the Dakar region, an initiative conducted in partnership with foreign donors, to examine the magnitude of forced child begging and establish baseline information from which to track progress in addressing this crime. In January 2015, the taskforce completed design of a national trafficking database; however, it was unclear how officials plan to implement and train officials on its proper use. The Ministry of Education drafted a law to regulate and modernize daaras and conducted public outreach to advocate for this daara modernization; however, this law was not approved by Parliament at the close of the reporting period. Despite these efforts, exploitation and abuse of talibes continued to occur on a large scale, and the government did not fund or make significant efforts to implement the national action plan on child begging.
Approximately 70 percent of Senegal’s economy operated in the informal sector, where most forced child labor occurred; however, there was no evidence that the Ministry of Labor made efforts to regulate this sector. The government made efforts to decrease the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts in the mining sector through the closure of artisanal mining sites in southeastern Senegal. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to Senegalese troops before their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.