Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014, 11:39 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Senegal

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Senegal, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee4e37.html [accessed 24 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Senegal (Tier 2)

Senegal is a source, transit, and destination country for children and women subjected to forced labor, forced begging, and sex trafficking. NGOs estimate that at least 50,000 children in the country, most of whom are talibes – students attending daaras (Koranic schools) run by teachers known as marabouts – are forced to beg, and that in Dakar alone there are 8,000 of these children begging in the streets. In addition to forced begging, Senegalese boys and girls are subjected to domestic servitude, forced labor in gold mines, and commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficking within the country is more prevalent than transnational trafficking, though children from neighboring countries have been found in forced begging and other forms of forced labor in Senegal. Unscrupulous marabouts in Senegal force boys from The Gambia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea to beg and boys from Guinea also are forced to work in gold mines. Senegalese women and girls are transported to neighboring countries, Europe, and the Middle East for domestic servitude. NGO observers believe most women and girls in forced prostitution, however, remain in Senegal. Women and girls from other West African countries, particularly Liberia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, may be subjected to domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation in Senegal, including for international sex tourism.

The Government of Senegal does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government renewed its efforts to prosecute and convict abusive marabouts for forcing talibe boys to beg; sustained its commitment to provide shelter, rehabilitation, and reintegration services to talibe boys; and increased efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of the culturally entrenched practice of child begging connected with religious education. The government did not take steps, however, to raise awareness of the dangers of other forms of trafficking, nor did it proactively identify and provide assistance to victims in other trafficking situations, such as boys forced to work in mines or women and girls forced into commercial sexual exploitation.

Recommendations for Senegal: Increase efforts to prosecute, convict, and appropriately punish trafficking offenders for subjecting victims to involuntary servitude; train police and magistrates to recognize indicators of trafficking and investigate trafficking crimes under Senegal's anti-trafficking law; consider amending the law to address the crime of migrant smuggling in a separate statute, to minimize confusion between human smuggling and trafficking; continue to ensure that talibes taken into police custody for forced begging are not held in detention, but are referred to the Ginndi Center or other shelters to receive protective care, and that these victims are not punished for crimes they have committed as a result of being trafficked; while continuing to proactively identify and care for talibes victimized by forced begging, increase identification efforts of and provision of protective services to other types of trafficking victims in and outside Dakar, including women in forced prostitution, girls subject to prostitution, and boys forced to work in mines; coordinate data collection across police departments on trafficking investigations and prosecutions; and allocate funding to the national task force for the implementation of the National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking.

Prosecution

The Government of Senegal made progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Senegal's 2005 Law to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Related Practices and to Protect Victims outlaws all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties of five to 10 years' imprisonment, which are both sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. During the year, the government renewed its efforts to use this law to prosecute and convict abusive marabouts who force talibes to beg, but did not use this law to convict other types of trafficking offenders. Many law enforcement and judicial personnel remained unaware of the anti-trafficking law's existence, and may have used other statutes to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases; this lack of awareness hindered efforts to collect data on human trafficking prosecutions. In August 2010, the Ministry of Justice took a step to correct this by sending a memo to Senegalese prosecutors emphasizing the need to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes under the 2005 law and tasking prosecutors with submitting a monthly report on all law enforcement and judicial efforts regarding human trafficking.

Statistics provided through prosecutors' monthly reporting revealed that the government prosecuted 10 cases of trafficking and obtained nine convictions during the year. In September, nine marabouts were convicted for forcing children to beg for money, and received sentences ranging from six months' imprisonment – the imposition of which was suspended – along with five years' probation and a fine to one month's imprisonment, five years' probation, and a fine. Only two of the nine trafficking offenders spent any time in prison – for the period of one month – which is inadequate and represents a decrease in penalty from the sentences of two years' imprisonment that were prescribed to marabouts accused of trafficking in previous years. In November 2010, a court in Tambacounda prosecuted, under Senegal's anti-trafficking law, a Nigerian man for bringing Nigerian women to Senegal and forcing them into prostitution. The court convicted the man for pimping and prescribed a sentence of six months' imprisonment, but acquitted him on the more serious charge of trafficking in persons. The government is appealing the acquittal. A case from 2008, in which a Lebanese man was arrested for attempting to transport Senegalese women to Lebanon and subsequently to force them into labor or service, was still pending at the Court of Appeal at the end of the reporting year. The alleged trafficker, having served the maximum pre-trial detention, is now free under court supervision while the case is pending. No information was available regarding the arrests of three alleged traffickers pending from previous reporting years. The government did not provide any specialized training on human trafficking investigations to law enforcement and judicial officials, though the Ministry of Family, through its Department of Child Protection, provided training to approximately 120 officials from across the government on the 2005 anti-trafficking law. There were no investigations of government officials' involvement in human trafficking, but corruption is known to be pervasive throughout the government, notably in law enforcement.

Protection

The Government of Senegal increased its efforts to identify trafficking victims and provide them with protective services over the last year. In August 2010 in Dakar, authorities took custody of a significant number of individuals accused of begging for money, a crime punishable by law in Senegal; they referred 112 children from among this population, suspected to be trafficking victims, to the government-run Ginndi Center for care. During the year, the Ginndi Center's child protection hotline received 7,115 calls concerning children in distress or requesting information; an unknown number of these calls concerned cases of human trafficking. In February 2011, the center shortened the hotline number to a three-digit code to facilitate greater ease of use. The government dedicated approximately $118,000 to the Ginndi Center to provide child victims of trafficking and other abuses with shelter, food, education, medical and psychological care, family mediation and reconciliation services, and vocational training. Police cooperated with travel agencies to identify suspected trafficking victims; during the year, police investigated one case referred to them by a travel agent involving a group of young women traveling to Morocco, but this did not result in a prosecution. All 795 of the suspected child trafficking victims identified by law enforcement officials – 787 boys and 8 girls – were referred to the Ginndi Center; the government did not identify any victims outside of Dakar, nor did it identify any victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Of the 795 child victims identified last year, 387 were from other countries in the region. The government repatriated all of these victims, with the exception of some Bissau-Guinean children who were determined to be at risk of being re-trafficked by their families; they were allowed to remain at the Ginndi Center. The government did not repatriate any Senegalese nationals who had been victims of trafficking in other countries. Members of the interior ministry's vice squads, accompanied by a child psychologist, social workers, and medical professionals, conducted trainings for police officers around the country on handling child sex trafficking victims, although none were identified during the year. In November 2010, the Senegalese first lady opened an NGO-run shelter in Dakar, capable of housing 25 street children, who may include victims of trafficking. The facility was built on land donated by the district mayor and funded in part with money from the Senegalese government. Victims were permitted to remain temporarily or permanently in Senegal with resident refugee status; during the year, the government granted citizenship to one rescued talibe who could not provide information about his family or country of origin. The 2005 anti-trafficking law specified that victims cannot be prosecuted for unlawful acts committed as a result of their being trafficked, and there were no reports that this occurred. The law also permitted closed-door testimony to encourage victims to serve as witnesses, and several children participated in the trials of the trafficking offenders who had exploited them.

Prevention

The Government of Senegal increased its efforts to prevent trafficking in persons during the reporting period. In August 2010, the prime minister chaired an inter-ministerial meeting to implement the country's National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons and create a national task force to coordinate and report on trafficking in Senegal. The task force formally came into existence in February 2011 with the appointment of a magistrate as its head; it was not noted to have taken additional action. In August 2010, the government funded an NGO to implement a three-month awareness campaign using billboards in Dakar and radio broadcasts to project an awareness message on the plight of talibes. The Ministry of Family funded a twice-weekly television program called "Women at Home," which sometimes featured community leaders addressing issues related to the dangers of child trafficking. In July 2010, the government created a Ministry of Human Rights, a junior ministry within the Ministry of Justice, tasked with preventing and monitoring all forms of human rights violations, including trafficking and violence against women and children.

Recognizing the high demand for religious education among Senegalese parents, and the potential this creates for exploitation of talibes by abusive marabouts, the government continued steps to create new options in publicly funded, regulated religious education. In 2010, the government completed construction of four new public Islamic schools and continued construction of four additional public Islamic schools, which did not allow children enrolled to beg for money. The government did not take steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor in Senegal, and no foreign pedophiles were arrested in 2010 for commercial sexual exploitation of children. The government did not provide specific anti-trafficking training to Senegalese troops before their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions, although troops did receive training in general human rights, gender violence, and international rule of law.

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