Last Updated: Friday, 29 August 2014, 14:18 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Togo

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Togo, 14 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c1883bd2d.html [accessed 30 August 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 country of origin and transit for men, women, and children who are subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor in Togo and commercial sexual exploitation in neighboring countries. Victims are usually from rural areas of Togo, and most are children recruited for work in the capital, Lome, as domestic servants, roadside vendors, or for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Sometimes traffickers will approach a family with lucrative job offers for children in the capital, often in return for domestic goods or cash. In reality, the jobs often include conditions of forced labor, offering arduous and sometimes hazardous work, for little or no pay, and often including confinement or threats of harm if the children leave. Togolese girls and a small percentage of boys are trafficked to Benin, Gabon, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to work in agricultural labor. Children from Benin and Ghana are frequently trafficked to Togo for forced labor. Trafficking offenders are both women and men, and are often Togolese, Beninese, or Nigerian. Some reports indicate Togolese women are recruited for work in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, where they are forced into conditions of domestic servitude and prostitution. Others go to France, Germany, and other European countries for the same purposes. A Togolese woman living in the United States was arrested in 2009 and prosecuted for trafficking offenses involving 20 girls from Togo and Ghana who were working forcibly under her direction in a hair salon in New Jersey.

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, despite limited resources. The government sustained moderate efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking offenders and protect trafficking victims. It did not, however, make progress in adopting needed legislation to criminalize the trafficking of adults.

Recommendations for Togo: Pass and enact the draft law specifically prohibiting the forced labor and forced prostitution of adults; continue using existing statutes to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders; establish the National Committee to Combat Child Trafficking mandated in Togo's 2005 law against child trafficking, and adopt the required action plan; and raise public awareness of existing legislation criminalizing child trafficking.

Prosecution

The Government of Togo demonstrated increased law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking during the last year. Togo does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, though in July 2007 the government placed en force the country's first Child Code, which provides for the protection of children's economic, psychological, and moral rights, and prohibits child trafficking. Unlike the country's 2005 Law Related to Child Trafficking, the 2007 Child Code provided a strong definition of trafficking and prohibited child sexual exploitation, along with the worst forms of child labor and child prostitution. The child trafficking law prescribes penalties of three months' to 10 years' imprisonment, which is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with prescribed penalties for other serious offenses, such as rape. Article 4 of the 2006 Labor Code prohibits forced and obligatory labor, but provides inadequate penalties for forced labor, and did not provide definitions of either obligatory or forced labor violations. No law in Togo specifically prohibits adult sex trafficking, and the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) lobbied the Ministry of Justice to remedy the problem in its ongoing revision of the penal code. During the reporting period, authorities prosecuted and convicted 13 trafficking offenders in Lome; at year's end, 10 were in prison awaiting their sentences, and the remaining three were on parole and had to report to the court regularly. There was no system for reporting court convictions from trials in the interior of the country. Detained traffickers sometimes obtained their own release by paying bribes. During the reporting period the government provided specialized investigative training to police, gendarmes, border guards, customs officers, and local and regional vigilance committees on how to recognize trafficking victims.

Protection

During the past year the government continued to ensure victims' access to protection services provided by NGOs and international organizations. With few exceptions, lack of resources and personnel limited the Togolese government's ability to provide services directly. The government did not have a formal system for identifying victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as children in workplaces. The MSA managed the Tokoin Community Shelter, which received victims referred through the government's assistance hotline Allo 111. In 2009, Allo 111 received and referred over 1,300 calls, 85 of which were from trafficking victims. The MSA's Director for the Protection of Children frequently responded to victims' calls personally, accompanied them to reception points and shelters, and followed their cases through reinsertion in their home villages. Tokoin was used as an intermediary shelter for at least 24 hours before victims were transferred to care facilities managed by NGOs, which cared for 156 child victims during the year. The government attempted to locate relatives and return victims to their families, and foreign victims received the same access to shelters as domestic trafficking victims. Victims, however, did not receive legal assistance. In December 2009, the government announced creation of a fund of approximately $550,000 to provide legal services for the indigent; victims of trafficking are eligible to receive services under this fund. The MSA also has an annually renewable fund of $21,000 with which it paid doctors and psychologists to provide help to victims. The MSA collaborated with the Ministry of Security and with Interpol to provide guards, judiciary police, and other agents to return victims to neighboring countries with protection from possible abuse or violence. However, the government did not aid victims in rebuilding their lives. Togo did not offer permanent residency status to foreign victims, but forged partnerships with neighboring governments to ensure the victims' safe repatriation. Non-Togolese victims received a temporary visa and were not treated as illegal immigrants. The rights of victims were respected, and they were not prosecuted for breaking laws while under the influence of trafficking violators. The government encouraged victims to seek legal action against traffickers, and no one impeded victims' access to legal redress, but it was extremely rare. The government provided medical aid and shelter to its repatriated nationals.

Prevention

The Government of Togo made weak efforts to prevent trafficking during the year. In December 2009, the government sponsored a convention on the rights of the child, which stressed anti-trafficking themes. During the reporting period, the government staged with UNICEF a workshop at which a long-awaited anti-trafficking action plan was reframed and edited by participating ministries, for adoption in 2010. However, the government has yet to create a national committee on child trafficking, as required by its 2005 child trafficking law. As a measure to prevent trafficking, the Togolese government required any child traveling within or leaving Togo to carry some form of identification issued by local authorities. The child also needed to carry a parental authorization form. In some cases, authorities intercepted victims who were not carrying these documents. The Togolese government provided anti-trafficking training to Togolese troops prior to their deployment abroad as part of international peacekeeping missions.

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