Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Equatorial Guinea
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||4 June 2008|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Equatorial Guinea, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a14c.html [accessed 4 March 2015]|
EQUATORIAL GUINEA (Tier 2 Watch List)
Equatorial Guinea is primarily a destination country for children trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and possibly for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Children have been trafficked from nearby countries, primarily Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, and Gabon for domestic servitude, market labor, ambulant vending, and possibly sexual exploitation. Most victims are trafficked to the cities of Malabo and Bata. Women may also be trafficked to Equatorial Guinea from Cameroon, Benin, other neighboring countries, and China for sexual exploitation.
The Government of Equatorial Guinea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Nevertheless, Equatorial Guinea is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to eliminate trafficking over the previous year, particularly in the areas of prosecuting and convicting trafficking offenders and failing to formalize mechanisms to provide assistance to victims. Although the government made some effort to enforce laws against child labor exploitation, it failed to report any trafficking prosecutions or convictions. Despite its substantial resources, the government continued to lack shelters or formal procedures for providing care to victims.
Recommendations for Equatorial Guinea: Increase efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders; implement its new formal procedures through which police routinely identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations such as foreign or displaced children, child laborers, and females in prostitution; establish shelters or a formal system though which the government can provide systematic care for trafficking victims; consider establishing relationships with civil society groups or international organizations to provide victims with appropriate services; ensure that minors vulnerable to sexual exploitation are not arrested but are provided with victim services.
The Government of Equatorial Guinea demonstrated modest law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking during the reporting period. The government prohibits all forms of trafficking through its 2004 Law on the Smuggling of Migrants and Trafficking in Persons, which prescribes sufficiently stringent penalties of 10 to 15 years' imprisonment. However, there have been no reports of individuals convicted under the trafficking provisions of this law. Police stationed at posts within open-air markets conduct regular market patrols, fining any vendors who exploit child labor and closing down the stalls of repeat offenders. In August 2007, in an effort to enforce anti-prostitution laws, the government closed down clubs in Malabo and Bata suspected of facilitating prostitution. A total of eight clubs in Malabo were closed, two of which reopened after improving conditions. Suspected females in prostitution identified during the crackdown were questioned to determine whether they might have been victims of trafficking.
In 2007, Equatorial Guinea began funding specific trafficking training seminars for its police and navy officers provided by a foreign contractor. Since November, the contractor has trained 160 officers. In February 2008, the government began distributing a set of formal procedures for identifying and detaining traffickers and providing care to victims to all police stations and military outposts in the country. The government also printed the procedures on wallet-size cards for each security officer.
The Government of Equatorial Guinea demonstrated limited efforts to protect trafficking victims in the last year. In February 2008, the government distributed a set of procedures for identifying and providing care to trafficking victims to all police stations and military outposts in the country. These procedures instruct officers to provide for safe transport of a victim to "the designated shelter" for care. However, no trafficking shelters yet exist in Equatorial Guinea, and the government has not provided social workers with training on how to care for trafficking victims. Officials provide limited care to victims on an ad hoc basis, but were unable to provide statistics for the number of victims provided with care. In one case involving a 17-year-old Togolese market worker, a foster home provided shelter. In another case, a Nigerian victim was referred to the Nigerian Embassy in Malabo. When police enforced child labor laws by raiding markets, they did not follow formal procedures to identify trafficking victims among child laborers. Similarly, when the government closed down suspected brothels, officials did not consistently make efforts to identify trafficking victims among females found in prostitution. Equatoguinean authorities rarely referred victims of child labor exploitation to government or civil society authorities able to help provide victim assistance.
When security officials find foreign child laborers without legal documentation, they sometimes deport them without first taking steps to determine whether they are trafficking victims. In some cases, authorities refer these laborers to their own country's diplomatic mission in Equatorial Guinea. Equatoguinean officials do not collaborate with civil society groups or international organizations to provide care to victims. Equatorial Guinea does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution. Victims may be inappropriately incarcerated or fined for unlawful acts as a direct result of being trafficked.
The Government of Equatorial Guinea continued to make progress in raising awareness of trafficking during the last year. In collaboration with UNICEF, Equatorial Guinea continued to fund and conduct sensitization workshops for local officials in both Malabo and Bata during the reporting period. The government took steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts by closing down brothels.