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 marabouts force such boys into begging in Guinea-Bissau. Some marabouts subsequently transport the boys to Senegal or, to a lesser extent, Mali or Guinea, for forced begging. Unscrupulous marabouts increasingly exploit Bissau-Guinean boys from rural areas in forced begging in cities. The principal traffickers are men from the regions of Bafata and Gabu—often former students of the marabouts, known as talibes, or men who claim to be working for a marabout—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 agricultural and mining sectors 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 victims of child sex trafficking in these countries. There are unconfirmed reports Europeans engaged in child sex tourism on islands in the Bijagos Archipelago.
The Government of Guinea-Bissau does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. In August 2015, the president dismissed the government after a little more than one year in office; a two-month gap with no government followed, and a second government assumed power in October 2015. Despite enacting an anti-trafficking law and adopting a national action plan in 2011, the government failed to demonstrate any notable anti-trafficking efforts for a fourth consecutive year. It did not take law enforcement action against suspected trafficking offenses, provide adequate protection to trafficking victims, conduct prevention activities, or implement its national action plan in 2015.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GUINEA-BISSAU:
Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish traffickers, including unscrupulous marabouts who subject boys to forced begging in Koranic schools; provide anti-trafficking training to law enforcement, labor, and social welfare officials on victim identification, referral, and case investigation techniques; train judicial personnel on the 2011 anti-trafficking law; develop formal written procedures to identify and refer victims to protective services and train officials on such procedures; provide shelter and services for all trafficking victims; reconvene the inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee and allocate specific funds for the implementation of the national action plan; increase funding allocated to NGOs to ensure provision of adequate services to all victims; make efforts to raise public awareness of human trafficking; and improve data collection efforts, including the number of victims identified and referred to protective services.
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 police did not further advance the case. During the reporting period, an NGO intercepted 22 children at the Senegalese border allegedly en route to Koranic schools for forced begging; law enforcement did not launch an investigation or make any arrests. Guinea-Bissau’s judicial system lacked sufficient human and physical capital to function properly, and corruption remained 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. Observers reported some police and border guards might have accepted bribes from traffickers, hindering law enforcement efforts during the reporting period.
The government made inadequate efforts to identify and protect victims, although it provided modest financial assistance to one NGO that provided services to trafficking victims. The government did not provide any statistics on the number of victims identified during the reporting period. An NGO identified and provided services to 43 Bissau-Guinean children in its transit centers in 2015, including the 22 children intercepted at the border, though it is unclear if any were victims of trafficking. A Senegalese NGO identified 86 Bissau-Guinean boys allegedly subjected to forced begging in Koranic schools. There is no evidence the government assisted with their repatriation or provided victim services. The government did not make systematic efforts to identify victims proactively. 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 ($8,290) to an NGO that operated two multipurpose shelters that provided care to an unknown number of victims. These facilities were severely overcrowded and underfunded; some shelter volunteers used their own homes to house victims temporarily. Shelter was only available for child victims, and there were no services to address trafficking victimization in particular. While the government did not initiate any investigations of trafficking offenses during the reporting period, officials would not ordinarily make efforts to encourage victims, adult family members, or neighbors to participate in legal proceedings against suspected traffickers. The government did not provide legal alternatives to removal to countries in which victims would face hardship or retribution. There was no evidence the government detained, fined, or jailed trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking.
The government did not make any tangible efforts to prevent trafficking. The government’s inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee, established in 2009 to coordinate the government’s anti-trafficking efforts, did not meet. The anti-trafficking national action plan, adopted by a previous government in 2011, requires the government to allocate funds annually from its general budget for anti-trafficking efforts; however, with the exception of the funds allocated to the aforementioned NGO, no additional funds were dedicated to anti-trafficking efforts in 2015. There was no evidence the government took steps to implement the national action plan. The government made no discernible efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor during the reporting period. There were unconfirmed reports Europeans engaged in child sex tourism on the Bijagos Archipelago. Despite these unconfirmed reports, the government did not take action to investigate the claims. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.