Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Togo

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Togo, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30c8b30.html [accessed 13 July 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.

TOGO (Tier 2)

Togo is a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The majority of Togolese victims are exploited within the country; forced child labor occurs in the agricultural sector – particularly on coffee, cocoa, and cotton farms – as well as in stone and sand quarries. Children from rural areas are brought to the capital, Lome, and forced to work as domestic servants, roadside vendors, and porters, or are exploited in prostitution. Near the Togo-Burkina Faso border, Togolese boys are forced into begging by corrupt marabouts (religious instructors). Togolese girls and, to a lesser extent, boys are transported to Benin, Gabon, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and subsequently forced to work in agriculture. Children from Benin and Ghana are recruited and transported to Togo for forced labor. Traffickers exploit Togolese men for forced labor in Nigerian agriculture and Togolese women as domestic servants. Some reports indicate Togolese women are fraudulently recruited for employment in Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Europe, where they are subsequently subjected to domestic servitude or forced prostitution.

The Government of Togo does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government convicted nine trafficking offenders during the year and identified 281 potential child trafficking victims. However, it neither made progress in enacting draft legislation to prohibit the trafficking of adults nor made efforts to accurately track prosecution and protection data and disseminate it among government ministries.

Recommendations for Togo: Increase efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking offenders, including using existing statutes to prosecute trafficking crimes committed against adults; complete and enact the draft law prohibiting the forced labor and forced prostitution of adults; develop a formal system to identify trafficking victims proactively and train law enforcement, immigration, and social welfare officials to identify such victims, especially among vulnerable populations; develop a system within the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) to track the number of victims referred to NGOs or returned to their families; develop a system among law enforcement and judicial officials to track suspected human trafficking cases and prosecution data; ensure sufficient funds are allocated to operate the Tokoin and Oasis centers; and increase efforts to raise public awareness about the dangers of human trafficking.

Prosecution

The Government of Togo sustained modest anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year. Togolese law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, such as the sex trafficking of adults, and laws against forced labor are inadequate with regard to definitions and prescribed penalties. The 2007 child code prohibits all forms of child trafficking and prescribes penalties of two to five years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent, but not commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The 2005 Law Related to Child Smuggling prescribes prison sentences of three months to 10 years for abducting, transporting, or receiving children for the purposes of exploitation. Article 4 of the 2006 labor code prohibits forced and compulsory labor, but its prescribed penalties of three to six months' imprisonment are not sufficiently stringent, and its definition of forced or compulsory labor includes broad exceptions. During the year, the government did not take action to enact its draft law prohibiting the trafficking of adults, which has remained pending since 2009.

The government arrested 23 suspected traffickers in 2011. By the end of the reporting period, the government had prosecuted and convicted nine trafficking offenders, an increase of four over the previous year. Ten suspects still await trial. Sentences for the convicted offenders ranged from six months' to two years' imprisonment. The government could not provide information on the status of nine trafficking prosecutions from 2010. In June 2011 and February 2012, the MSA provided training on the child code to hundreds of lawyers, paralegals, magistrates, police, and notaries in Kara and Lome and included information on how to differentiate trafficking crimes from other forms of child exploitation. There were no allegations of government officials' complicity in trafficking cases during the reporting period; however, allegations of complicity from the previous reporting period remained uninvestigated. Inadequate funding, inefficiency, corruption, and impunity in the judicial sector continue to hinder trafficking prosecutions and convictions.

Protection

During the past year, the government sustained its efforts to provide modest protection to child victims, but showed no discernible efforts to protect adult victims. The government did not put in place measures to identify trafficking victims among individuals in prostitution; however, it continued efforts to identify child victims of forced labor through increased education among immigration and law enforcement officials in border areas. The Committee for the Reception and Social Reinsertion of Trafficked Children (CNARSEVT), Togo's national anti-trafficking committee comprised of government and NGO representatives, identified 56 victims of child trafficking. In addition, throughout the reporting period the government intercepted and rescued 225 trafficked children being moved to sites where they faced exploitation, such as on farms as laborers and in homes as domestic servants. The governments of Nigeria, Benin, and Gabon repatriated 53 Togolese child victims into the care of CNARSEVT, which in turn provided them with temporary shelter until they could be reunited with their families or placed into an apprenticeship program. In Lome, MSA social workers continued to run a toll-free helpline, Allo 10-11, which received 106 child trafficking calls during the year. Through increased training and awareness-raising among law enforcement officials, the police and CNARSEVT developed an ad hoc referral system for responding to hotline tips, as well as for transferring rescued trafficking victims to an appropriate shelter. The MSA continued to oversee the Tokoin community center – a temporary multi-purpose shelter for child victims – and in January 2011 assumed direct management of a second multi-purpose shelter, the Oasis center, which was previously run by a local NGO. The government did not report the number of trafficking victims these shelters cared for during the reporting period. In early 2011, CNARSEVT initiated a pilot apprenticeship project training 24 female trafficking victims on sewing skills. The government did not offer temporary or permanent residency status to foreign victims who faced hardship or retribution in their native country. Although there were no reports of victims being penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, the lack of a formal identification system may mean some victims remain unidentified in the law enforcement system.

Prevention

The government increased its efforts to prevent trafficking during the year. CNARSEVT received a budget allocation equivalent to $101,000 for the year, which it used to fund administrative costs and victim protection efforts. In 2011, the governments of Togo and Gabon met to commence negotiations on a bilateral anti-trafficking agreement that will outline procedures for the extradition of suspected traffickers and the repatriation of victims. Although cooperation already exists on a working level between the two governments, the official agreement awaits finalization. Throughout the year and in collaboration with the MSA, the director of CNARSEVT met with village and regional committees, border guards and inspectors across the country to raise trafficking awareness. In June 2011, CNARSEVT and the MSA hosted a child labor and trafficking seminar for Lome businessmen, lawyers, and police. During the reporting period, the government increased the number of labor inspectors – whose responsibilities include identifying trafficking victims – from 62 to 74, but this did not result in the identification of any suspected traffickers or trafficking victims. The government did not take discernible measures to decrease the demand for commercial sex acts. The government provided anti-trafficking training to Togolese troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.

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