[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

EQUATORIAL GUINEA (TIER 2 Watch List)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept TIP Report, June 2009]

Equatorial Guinea has been primarily a destination for children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and possibly for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Children are believed to be trafficked from nearby countries, primarily Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, and Gabon for domestic servitude, market labor, ambulant vending, and other forms of forced labor, such as carrying water and washing laundry. Most victims are believed to be trafficked to Malabo and Bata, where a burgeoning oil industry created demand for labor and commercial exploitation. Women may also have been trafficked to Equatorial Guinea from Cameroon, Benin, other neighboring countries, and China for labor or sexual exploitation. In the last year, there was a report that women of Equatoguinean extraction were also trafficked to Iceland for commercial 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. The government continued to provide anti-trafficking training to law enforcement officials and to maintain police stations in open air markets to monitor situations of child labor exploitation. The government has also publicly denounced human trafficking. Despite these efforts, the government did not show evidence of progress in prosecuting trafficking offenders or providing protection to victims, and therefore, Equatorial Guinea is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. While the government has the financial resources to address trafficking, its efforts to combat trafficking remained weak, in part because of its crippled judiciary.

Recommendations for Equatorial Guinea: Make greater use of the country’s 2005 anti-trafficking law and law enforcement and judicial personnel to investigate, prosecute and convict trafficking offenders; train additional law enforcement officials and Conciliation Delegates to follow formal procedures to identify trafficking victims among child laborers, illegal immigrants, and women and/or girls in prostitution; establish a formal system for providing trafficking victims with assistance; cease deportation of any foreign trafficking victims from Equatoguinean territory without providing them with care and safe and voluntary repatriation; and increase efforts to raise public awareness about trafficking.

The Government of Equatorial Guinea demonstrated 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 carries adequate prescribed penalties of 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment. However, no human trafficking cases have yet been prosecuted under the relevant portion of this law. Police stationed at posts within open-air markets continued to monitor vendor activity for child labor explotiation, though during the reporting period, the government did not report any investigations or arrests of suspected trafficking violators. The government continued to fund anti-trafficking training seminars for police and navy officers provided by a foreign contractor. In the last year, the contractor has trained 590 additional officers in specific, anti-trafficking sessions included in a broader training program. The government distributed to law enforcement officials a wallet-sized checklist of steps to take when presented with any potential crime; the guidance is not specific to human trafficking crimes but was triggered by related concerns. The steps include indentifying and investigating the crime, detaining the suspect, notifying appropriate officials, assisting the victims, and launching judicial action. In the last year, the government has instituted photograph and fingerprinting procedures at airports in Malabo and Bata, in order to aid identification and possible prosecutions in suspected trafficking cases.

The Government of Equatorial Guinea demonstrated inadequate efforts to protect trafficking victims in the last year. The government has not yet implemented victim care shelters or other organized victim care mechanisms. Two proposed women’s shelters, which the government has indicated will double as trafficking victims shelters, have not been constructed. The government did not employ formal procedures for identifying and providing care to trafficking victims. During the year, the government reported no cases in which it provided victims with care or collaborated with NGOs to provide victim assistance. Authorities reported that victims of cross-border trafficking are sometimes removed from Equatoguinean-Guinean territory without being provided with any assistance. Along with posters for police stations and security checkpoints, the government distributed to law enforcement officials a wallet-sized checklist specifically addressing the needs of trafficking victims, including shelter, medical attention, clothing, food, translations services, a consular visit, and legal assistance. No systems have yet been put into place to provide victims with these services. During the year, the government reached out to a foreign donor to request technical assistance in developing a system for providing victim care.

The Ministry of Social Affairs has primary responsibility for providing care to destitute children in the country, but it did not have staff trained to care for trafficking victims during the last year. The ministryMinistry employs over 100 Conciliation Delegates, community workers who assist victims of abuse. In the course of their duties, these workers sometimes educateeducated families about the dangers of child labor, but they did not employ procedures to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations. The government did not encourage victims to assist in trafficking investigations or prosecutions, nor, in the absence of cases, did it provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may have faced hardship or retribution.

The Government of Equatorial Guinea demonstrated some progress in raising awareness about trafficking. During the year, the President of Equatorial Guinea made two public announcements recognizing the need for increased counter-trafficking activity. The government took steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, with law enforcement officials regularly visiting night clubs, hotels and restaurants to monitor for illegal commercial sex activities.