SENEGAL: Tier 2 Watch List
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, and the problem is prevalent throughout the country. Senegalese boys and girls are also subjected to domestic servitude, forced labor in gold mines, and sex trafficking. Internal trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking, although boys from The Gambia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea have been subjected to forced begging and forced labor in artisanal gold mines 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 sex trafficking in Senegal, including for sex tourism.
The Government of Senegal does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government identified an increased number of trafficking victims and provided funding to the only trafficking-specific shelter in the country. The government updated Senegal’s two-year national action plan to combat trafficking, and made limited progress on its implementation during the reporting year. Despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Senegal is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The government reported no prosecutions of suspected trafficking offenders in 2015, compared with four in 2014; it investigated and prosecuted three marabouts for exploiting talibes during the reporting period. The one marabout it convicted received an insufficiently stringent sentence of three months’ imprisonment and a second marabout was acquitted. Overall, it continued minimal and inadequate law enforcement efforts against unscrupulous marabouts exploiting children in forced begging, which remains Senegal’s predominant trafficking problem, and enactment of the daara modernization law was delayed. Officials did not adequately regulate or inspect the informal sectors of the economy, such as mining, to prevent forced labor or use the national database for tracking law enforcement statistics.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SENEGAL:
Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, including those who exploit children in forced begging; 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; ensure consistent application of standardized procedures for referring trafficking victims to NGO care services and sensitize government officials and the NGO community to these mechanisms; 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 adequate funding to expand government-funded shelters or partner with international organizations or NGOs to provide additional care options for victims; expand regulations to include labor inspections and labor trafficking investigations in the informal sectors of the economy including mining, agriculture, and fishing; fully implement the national action plan on forced child labor and the 2015-2017 national action plan to combat trafficking; expand the daara mapping project to provide baseline information for the national database and increase coordination of efforts to prevent forced begging; and broaden efforts to raise public awareness about trafficking, including of adults, and forced child begging.
The government did not demonstrate evidence of sustained 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 fourth consecutive year, the government did not maintain or publish comprehensive anti-trafficking law enforcement statistics. Compared to four prosecutions and convictions during the previous reporting period, Senegalese officials did not report any prosecutions of suspected trafficking offenders in 2015. Despite widespread, and often visible, forced begging by unscrupulous marabouts, for the second consecutive year the government reported only one conviction for this form of trafficking in December 2015; moreover, the offender was sentenced to three months in prison—an insufficiently stringent punishment compared to the severity of the crime, which serves as an inadequate deterrent. In addition, the lack of government action to regulate the daaras and prosecute those who engage in or abet forced child begging allowed the problem to continue. Officials also did not report any prosecutions of perpetrators of child or adult sex trafficking during the reporting period, in part due to previous closures of artisanal mines.
The government, in collaboration with key stakeholders, developed and organized several training programs for law enforcement officials in 2015; it conducted two training programs the year prior. Many law enforcement and judicial personnel remained unaware of the 2005 anti-trafficking law, which, coupled with limited institutional capacity, continued to inhibit efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers under the law and to collect data on such 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 trafficking victims. Government law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel have formal written procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among high-risk populations. In 2015, the government identified 142 child trafficking victims, an increase from 61 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 temporary shelter and basic provisions for all 142 victims; the government provided FCFA 85.7 million ($145,000) to the center for legal counseling, medical and psychological care, familial mediation and reconciliation services, and basic education and vocational training, up from 50 million FCFA ($85,000) the previous year. However, the center lacked the resources to pay its staff adequately or provide specialized training for the social workers and volunteers who counsel and rescue street children, many of whom were potential trafficking victims. During the year, the Ginddi Center’s child protection hotline was operational, but the total number of calls it received, including trafficking-related ones, was unknown.
The government made limited efforts to proactively identify victims among vulnerable groups, such as those residing in gold-mining communities or engaged in begging schemes, and referred an unknown number of child trafficking victims to NGO-run shelters. The victim referral system in Senegal is inconsistently applied and not available in all regions of the country. Victims identified along Senegal’s borders were sent to an international organization and government center for questioning before being referred to NGOs for protective 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 and seek restitution; 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 during the year.
The government made uneven efforts to prevent human trafficking. It finalized the 2015-2017 national action plan to combat trafficking and made limited progress on implementation during the reporting year. The government maintained its funding of FCFA 30,000,000 ($50,000) for the national taskforce’s anti-trafficking activities in 2015. In February 2016, in collaboration with a local NGO, the anti-trafficking taskforce facilitated a discussion of forced child begging at the municipality level and sponsored a movie screening and conducted two workshops on the same topic targeting local officials, religious leaders, Koranic school representatives, and community members. During the reporting period, the taskforce raised awareness on the daara mapping findings in Guediawaye and Rufisque, to inform vulnerable populations of the magnitude of forced child begging and expand baseline information from which to track progress in addressing this crime. Although the taskforce completed design of a national trafficking database during the previous reporting year and trained law enforcement officials on its effective usage, the government did not fully implement it in 2015. The taskforce, in conjunction with international partners commenced implementation of the national action plan on forced child begging during the reporting period. Approval of a draft law to regulate and modernize daaras was delayed. The government assisted with the development of child protection committees in porous border areas, including the Kedougou mining region, to refer vulnerable children to social services; however, exploitation of children in this region continued to be a pervasive problem.
Approximately 70 percent of Senegal’s economy operated in the informal sector, where most forced child labor occurred, yet labor officials did not demonstrate tangible progress to regulate this sector during the reporting year. The government made limited progress towards decreasing demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts, including the temporary closure and regulation of artisanal mines. In 2015, the taskforce reported the establishment of a tourism police force in Saly and Cap Skirring to patrol for indicators of child sex tourism and other abuses. The government, in cooperation with international partners, provided 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.