For the third year in a row, in its Trafficking in Persons Report, the U.S. Department of State ranks Guinea as a Tier 2 Watch List country in 2022 in terms of its efforts to eliminate human trafficking in Guinea. This ranking means “the Government of Guinea does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.”
Guinea’s Trafficking Profile
According to the trafficking profile of Guinea, as set out in the 2022 TIP report, “human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Guinea, and traffickers exploit victims from Guinea abroad.” The populations most at risk of sex trafficking and forced labor in Guinea are “individuals in commercial sex, including those from [Economic Community of West African States] and other nations, adults and children working in the informal labor sector, homeless and orphaned children, artisanal miners, children and adults with albinism and persons suffering severe mental illnesses,” the U.S. State Department says.
Traffickers also push both young boys and adults into forced labor in the mining industry. According to Verité, “Guinea also serves as a transit country for children from other West African countries who are forced into gold mining throughout that region.”
Girls and women in Guinea are at risk of ending up in domestic servitude or sex trafficking. Trafficking rings recruit females under the false pretense of work opportunities in a foreign country, subjecting them to forced labor or other exploitive conditions.
In 2021, the government investigated 46 trafficking cases and continued investigations on 11 incidents from the previous year. Guinean courts convicted 24 traffickers and acquitted one in comparison to 20 convictions in 2020. But out of these convictions, the majority of the traffickers received jail time of 24 months or less and one received only a fine — inadequate punishment considering the seriousness of the crimes.
The government dedicated a budget to the Office for the Protection of Gender, Children and Morals (OPROGEM) “for the first time since 2016” and also provided both finances and land to build new headquarters for OPROGEM. Additionally, the Guinean government, with support from a foreign government and several organizations, provided training to all relevant authorities on “anti-trafficking enforcement procedures, victim referral and investigative techniques related to human trafficking.”
The police and gendarme academy staff also received anti-trafficking skills training guidebooks and the government conducted one training session for prosecutors and judges to learn more about trafficking. Guinea’s government also established an “emergency anti-trafficking national action plan (NAP) to supplement the 2020-2022 NAP.” The creation of a helpline and an increase of resources designated to the anti-trafficking committee (CNLTPPA) also stand as positive steps on the part of the government.
The African Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES) is a group of anti-trafficking researchers and advocates. “We use research and the collection of baseline data to identify target populations that are exploited in a trafficking sector and then work with local agencies to implement rigorous anti-trafficking programs and policies,” its website explains. APRIES currently works in Senegal, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
APRIES’ work in Guinea centers around child trafficking victims ages 5 to 16 across the Boké and Mamou regions. The program aims to “provide protection services to child trafficking survivors and ensure the sustainable reintegration of these survivors.” During its first year of work, the program aimed to “serve 65 child survivors at the Sabou Guinée transit center in Boké and 35 child survivors at the FMK transit center in Mamou.” The project also aims to ensure the successful prosecution of child traffickers. The Guinean NGO Les Mêmes Droits pour Tous (“Equal Rights for All”) will serve as a key partner.
With continued efforts on the part of the government and anti-trafficking organizations, the prevalence of human trafficking in Guinea can reduce.
– Lauryn Defreitas