[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

TOGO (TIER 2)    [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Togo is a source, transit and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficking within Togo is more prevalent than transnational trafficking and the majority of victims are children. Togolese girls are trafficked primarily within the country for domestic servitude, for forced work as market vendors and produce porters, and for commercial sexual exploitation. To a lesser extent, girls from Togo are also trafficked to other African countries, primarily Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, and Niger, for the same purposes listed above. Although some Togolese boys are trafficked within the country, they are more commonly trafficked transnationally to work in agricultural labor, including on cocoa farms, in other African countries, primarily Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon and Benin. Over the last year, Togolese boys were also trafficked to Ghana for forced begging by a religious instructor. Beninese and Ghanaian children have been trafficked to Togo. There were reports of Togolese women and girls trafficked to Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, likely for domestic servitude and forced prostitution. Togolese women may be trafficked to Europe, primarily to France and Germany, for the same purposes.

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 continued steady efforts to protect trafficking victims and to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders.

Recommendations for Togo: Continue to increase efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders; criminalize the trafficking of adults; increase efforts to raise public awareness about trafficking, particularly about legislation criminalizing it; and establish the National Committee to Combat Child Trafficking mandated in Togo’s 2005 law against child trafficking.

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 enacted a Child Code that criminalizes all forms of child trafficking. This law supplements Togo’s 2005 Law Related to Child Trafficking, which criminalizes the trafficking of children, but provides a weak definition of trafficking and fails to prohibit child sexual exploitation. Togo’s maximum prescribed penalty of 10 years' imprisonment for child trafficking is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with prescribed penalties for other grave offenses. The prescribed penalties of one to five years’ imprisonment for sex trafficking of children 15 years and older, and 10 years’ imprisonment for sex trafficking of children younger than 15 years, are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for statutory rape. Article 4 of the 2006 Labor Code criminalizes forced and obligatory labor, prescribing inadequate penalties for forced labor of either three to six months’ imprisonment, a fine, or both, and double these penalties for “obligatory” labor. This Article does not provide definitions of either of these labor violations. The Government of Togo reported 13 prosecutions of trafficking offenders, 12 of whom were convicted. Four convicted traffickers each received sentences of two years’ imprisonment, and one of these perpetrators, who is Beninese, was banned from entering Togo for five years after serving his sentence. Six traffickers each received punishments of eight months’ imprisonment and two traffickers received prison sentences of six months

The Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA) contributed vehicles and trainers to UNICEF-supported anti-trafficking training of magistrates in Atakpame and Kara. In June 2008, the Ministry of Security conducted a donor-funded trafficking training for 30 police officers and gendarmerie. The government relied largely on ILO-funded local vigilance committees, usually composed of local government officials, community leaders, and youth, to report trafficking cases.

The Togolese government continued steady efforts to protect trafficking victims over the last year. The government did not operate its own victim shelter. Togolese officials continued to refer trafficking victims to NGOs for care, however. After identifying trafficking victims, police regularly contacted MOSA staff, who arranged for victim referral to an NGO. The MOSA also helped to identify the families of child victims and helped with their reintegration by ensuring that they received schooling. Two MOSA social workers were on-call 24-hours a day to assist trafficking victims. The government also provided temporary shelter to victims at community transit centers located in each of its four regions if NGO facilities were stretched to capacity. One anti-trafficking NGO in Lome that cares for child victims 14-years-old and younger reported that approximately two-thirds of the 180 children it provided with care in the last year were referred by government officials. Another NGO that assisted 260 female victims below the age of 18 during the year estimated that 65 percent of these victims were referred by the government. During the year, a MOSA vocational center for destitute children assisted approximately 20 trafficking victims. In April 2008, Togolese officials collaborated with authorities in Benin to repatriate two male child trafficking victims to Benin from Togo.

Because the government does not follow systematic procedures to identify trafficking victims among women and girls in prostitution, sex trafficking victims may have been inappropriately incarcerated or fined for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The government sometimes encouraged victims to assist in trafficking investigations or prosecutions on an ad hoc basis. The government did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution; however, the majority of victims identified in Togo were Togolese.

The Government of Togo made weak efforts to prevent trafficking during the year. In June 2008, the President presided over a day-long program to promote the government’s anti-trafficking strategy during which five child victims told their stories of being trafficked, an anti-trafficking film was shown, and both the President and the Minister of Social Affairs publicly denounced trafficking. At the end of the day, local anti-trafficking committees presented recommendations for a strengthened anti-trafficking response. In January 2009, the government ran a campaign to publicize its new toll-free hotline staffed by government personnel to report cases of violence against children, including trafficking. The number, “ALLO 111,” is jointly funded by Togo Telecom, private cell phone companies, UNICEF and an NGO. Soon after the hotline was announced, a caller phoned in a tip that prevented two children from being trafficked across the border to Benin. While some minor action items in the national action plan, which was developed in 2007, have been started, the majority of the plan has not yet been implemented due to lack of financial means. The National Committee for the Reception and Social Reinsertion of Trafficked Children reported close collaboration with its counterparts in Benin and Togo to develop bilateral anti-trafficking action plans. The government provided Togolese troops deployed abroad as part of peacekeeping missions some trafficking awareness training prior to their deployment. The National Committee to Combat Trafficking mandated by Togo’s 2005 anti-trafficking law has not yet been established. Togo did not take measures to reduce demand for commercial sex acts. Togo has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.