RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #0255/01 0610701
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020701Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1952
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 DAKAR 000255
STATE FOR INL, DRL, AF/W, AF/RSA, INR/AA
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: GUINEA BISSAU: ANNUAL TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT
REF: 2008 SECSTATE 132759
1. (SBU) Guinea-Bissau is a source of children trafficked for
begging primarily in Senegal. Muslim Koranic teachers or their
intermediaries convince parents to send children purportedly for a
religious education. Those children are routinely beaten and
subjected to harsh treatment; often their families never hear from
them again. There are few statistics or reliable estimates on the
scope of the problem. The GOGB has the political will to combat
this issue and has instituted jail time for parents who collude with
traffickers. Police are proactive in stopping traffickers and
assisting victims. Lawmakers have drafted legislation that would
prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons. An inter-ministerial
committee is leading the effort to combat trafficking nationwide.
2. (SBU) Children have been required to beg for food and money to
receive education from Koranic schools for generations. Some
fathers and community leaders who send children away to learn to
read the Koran experienced similar situations, although abuse
appears to be growing and education dwindling. Public discussion,
radio programs, and solid NGO efforts, often in conjunction with
police and government, are making it harder for traffickers to
operate. Arrests of traffickers and complicit parents also serve as
3. (SBU) One NGO, "Associaco de Mulher e Crianca" (the Association
for Women and Children, known as AMIC in Portuguese) leads
coordination efforts for government, police, and civil society in
terms of prevention and helping returned victims find their
families, and holding parents accountable to the courts if their
children become re-trafficked after participating in the
reintegration program. END SUMMARY.
4. (SBU) Responses are keyed to questions in reftel.
Begin TIP report:
PARA 23. THE COUNTRY'S TIP SITUATION
A. Reliable information on trafficking in persons in Guinea-Bissau
is difficult to obtain. Few studies have been conducted and data
collected by international organizations, NGOs, and the GOGB is
incomplete. Local police forces, as well as UNICEF, maintain data
on trafficked children intercepted at the border. Courts maintain
records on arrests. The International Organization for Migration
(IOM) and NGOs maintain data on trafficking victims repatriated to
Guinea-Bissau. The GOGB office of the Institute of Women and
Children also collects nationwide data.
B. Guinea-Bissau is a country of origin for trafficked children for
forced begging, primarily to Senegal and to a lesser extent Mali and
Guinea. Children are sent by their parents with a teacher, or
someone purporting to represent a teacher, for Koranic studies. Key
source areas are the predominantly Muslim areas of Bafata and Gabu
in the east. Instead of getting an education, children are
generally forced to beg and remit daily payments of anywhere from 50
cents to one U.S. dollar plus a kilo of rice to the teacher.
Failure to meet daily quotas earns severe beatings. Some Koranic
schools in Guinea-Bissau also require children to beg in the
long-standing tradition of these schools, but with less abuse and
more education than they get abroad.
Few studies have been completed on the scope of human trafficking in
or from Guinea-Bissau. UNICEF estimates that 200 children are
trafficked out of Guinea-Bissau each month. A study by the
Senegal-based African Centre for the Advanced Studies in Management
released in August, 2008, found that thirty percent of the 8,000
religious students begging on the streets of Dakar are from
Guinea-Bissau. In 2008, at least 168 trafficking victims reportedly
were intercepted at the Senegalese border on their way to beg on the
streets of Dakar. Also in 2008, with the assistance of the Embassy
of Guinea- Bissau in Dakar, 63 trafficking victims, who were
enduring harsh conditions and forced begging on the streets of
Dakar, were repatriated to Guinea-Bissau.
C. Living conditions for trafficked children on the streets of
Senegal's cities can be heartbreaking. Victims frequently roam the
streets barefoot in tattered rags, their skin rife with sores and
lesions. Children who cannot raise the daily payment are beaten so
severely that they often don't return, choosing to sleep in the
street rather than face punishment. It is common for families to go
years without receiving any word from children. Some children seek
help from NGOs, neighborhood women whom they adopt as mother
figures, or the Bissau-Guinean Embassy in Dakar. Others simply walk
back to Guinea-Bissau. Many make a go of it on their own, living in
abandoned buildings and making do with begging as a profession.
DAKAR 00000255 002 OF 005
D. Boys, the beneficiaries of the purported religious education, are
the principle targets of the traffickers. Some girls may be
trafficked as well to work as domestic labor in Bissau or Senegal,
although there is no reliable evidence of this practice.
E. Men, often former trafficking victims, from the regions of Bafata
and Gabu are the primary traffickers. They may be teachers in
Koranic schools, or they may say they are working on behalf of a
teacher. In most cases, they are known to communities in which they
operate, AMIC, and the police. Some have been photographed by
police for the purpose of prevention. They operate in the open,
protected by their stature in the Muslim community and the fact that
politicians in Guinea-Bissau and Senegal do not have the temerity to
confront them. Parents of young children are approached by
religious leaders or intermediaries, usually from Guinea-Bissau, and
offered the chance to send children for a religious education where
they would be taught to read the Koran. Because of traditional
links between Islamic communities across borders and the existence
of extended families where distant relatives may be considered
"uncles," the trafficker is often known to the parents. Also in
some cases, children sent away are not wanted any longer, especially
in the case of a second marriage where the new wife does not want to
raise her husband's children with a first wife. The primary route to
Senegal is through the town of Pirada, where there are police and
migration controls. Another key exit point is the town of Sao
Domingos in the west. Almost all traffic is overland, reportedly by
foot, taxi, or animal-driven carts to the border. Non-vehicular
traffic can easily avoid border outposts by using foot trails
through the bush. Border guards are aware of the problem and,
according to the leading national NGO on trafficking, AMIC,
cooperate on interdiction and repatriation. Yet remoteness, low
salaries that are sometimes unpaid for months at a time, and
respect for Koranic teachers makes guards vulnerable to bribes.
PARA 24 SETTING THE SCENE FOR THE GOVERNMENT'S ANTI-TIP EFFORTS
A. The GOGB readily acknowledges that trafficking is a problem in
the country. The Government contributes eight million CFA francs
(CFAF) (about USD 16,000) per year to the operating budget of AMIC,
the country's strongest advocate in fighting trafficking of
B. Political will exists to assist victims and prevent trafficking
through raising awareness, especially in key institutions such as
the government's Institute of Women and Children, the Department of
Justice, the Foreign Ministry, and among individuals throughout the
police force. An inter-ministerial committee, chaired by President
of Institute of Women and Children, meets regularly in an effort to
coordinate the GOGB and civil society response.
C. The GOGB faces constraints in its ability to tackle the popular
tradition of sending boys away from home to get a religious
education. Porous borders make it easy for the traffickers to evade
detection. Local law enforcement officers lack vehicles and gas to
patrol the borders. Civil servants, including police and border
guards, are frequently not paid for months at a time, making them
vulnerable to bribes. In the absence of a specific law
criminalizing trafficking, prosecutors rely on other related
statutes such as kidnapping. However, the country has no
operational prison and only ad hoc detention facilities, further
eroding the already limited capacity of the judicial system.
National coordination efforts were hampered by the August 2008
dissolution of the government and National Assembly and the August
and November attempted coups. A new government was installed in
D. The GOGB does not make systematic efforts and does not publish
assessments of its performance. A police inspector under the
auspices of the Ministry of Interior has official responsibility for
coordinating the government enforcement response and cooperation
with UNICEF, but these efforts are poorly organized.
PARA 25. INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS
A. Since the last report, the National Assembly drafted legislation
specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons. However, the
legislation was not adopted before the National Assembly was
dissolved in August, 2008. There is no law specifically prohibiting
trafficking in people. Other laws are currently being used,
although they are weakly applied. Laws against removal of minors,
sexual exploitation, abuse, and kidnapping of minors may be used to
prosecute trafficking cases. Prostitution is illegal, as is
B. There is no trafficking law, but the law against kidnapping,
which may be used in child trafficking, carries a penalty of two to
ten years in prison.
DAKAR 00000255 003 OF 005
C. Guinea-Bissau is not a source or destination country for labor
abuses and as such has no specific legislation dealing with the
crime. When children are exploited for labor, it is usually through
promises of education that traffickers lure them into servitude, not
through legitimate offers of employment with contracts.
D. The penalty for rape is between one and five years in prison.
Sex trafficking is not specifically covered under the law and in
fact does not appear to be a widespread problem in Guinea-Bissau.
E. During the year, nine people were arrested for
trafficking-related offenses; however, there have been no successful
prosecutions of traffickers, due largely to systemic failures that
pervade the judicial system. Instead, local law enforcement is
using the laws in place related to parental responsibilities for
child protection to go after parents who send their children with
traffickers. Police are keenly aware of their responsibility when
it comes to protecting children from traffickers, and they often
take appropriate action. In most cases, this involves coordinating
with NGOs on repatriations. When these children, known as
"talibes," go through the repatriation and reinsertion process,
parents are required to sign a contract with the regional court that
holds them criminally responsible for the safety of their children
if they should be re-trafficked.
F. The Government does not provide any special training on
trafficking but has said it welcomes any training that foreign
governments or international organizations can provide.
G. The GOGB, in particular the Bissau-Guinean Embassy in Dakar,
works closely with the government of Senegal. Together, they
repatriated 63 children to Guinea-Bissau during the reporting
H. The Government is not prohibited from extraditing its nationals
but has no record of being asked to do so for TIP.
I. There is no evidence of government involvement in TIP.
J. Not applicable.
K. Prostitution and associated activities are illegal. Such laws,
however, are not strictly enforced.
L. Not applicable.
M. There is little tourism in Guinea-Bissau, and there are no
reports of child sex tourism.
PARA 26. PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS
A. Under existing laws, the government can intercept and return
victims domestically and repatriate them from abroad. The
government can hold the victims indefinitely in transition shelters
in order to increase the likelihood of successful family
re-integration. No special protections are afforded to witnesses.
B. The only care facility expressly for TIP victims is a rented
house in Gabu. AMIC pays the rent through its support from
international NGOs and the GOGB. AMIC isseeking a permanent
solution to this problem. Another care facility, run by SOS Talibe,
is under enovation in Bafata.
C. SOS Talibe and AMIC proide victims with access to medical and
psychologcal services. Most significant funding comes fromabroad,
including PRM support to IOM for a regionl repatriation and
reinsertion program. The Govrnment continues to contribute about
USD 16,000 o AMIC's annual operating budget. It cooperates ad
coordinates closely with IOM, UNICEF, Save theChildren (Dakar), SOS
Talibe, and other foreign NGOs.
D. Guinea-Bissau is not a destination country for foreign victims
E. No. SOS Talibe and AMIC provide longer-term shelter as needed,
however. SOS Talibe, for example, provided shelter for several
months for a trafficking victim repatriated from Senegal. The child
was unable to recall the name of the area from where he originated.
Upon investigation, care workers suspect that he may have come from
Guinea and not Guinea-Bissau as he mistakenly told officials in
F. The GOGB refers victims to NGOs and international organizations
G. UNICEF estimates that there are 200 victims per month. Over the
DAKAR 00000255 004 OF 005
course of the year, 168 intercepted victims received care, while
another 63 victims repatriated from Senegal received care.
H. Not applicable.
I. Victims are not punished or persecuted in any way by anyone other
than their traffickers.
J. Victims are frequently too young to contribute significantly to
any prosecution. Family members of the victims, however, are
encouraged to assist in any investigation or prosecution of
traffickers. Given the widespread cultural acceptance of the
practice of sending young boys away from home for an Islamic
education, family members, however, often support the traffickers.
K. AMIC provides all training. Government agencies provide full
cooperation with AMIC and attend any and all training events.
L. As noted above, the Government has no funds to support even a
modest victim assistance program. It relies heavily on NGO and
international donor support not just for TIP assistance, but for
many basic government functions, including payment of civil service
salaries. The Bissau-Guinean Embassy in Senegal is a leader in the
fight against trafficking. It coordinates closely with NGOs in
Senegal and the Red Cross to identify, assist, and repatriate
victims. It uses its operating budget to fund assistance efforts
and is reimbursed upon justification to the Ministry of Foreign
M. A non-exhaustive list includes the Red Cross, AMIC, SOS Talibe,
RADDHO(Dakar), Save the Children (Dakar), UNICEF, and IOM.
PARA 27. PREVENTION
A. The Government contributed to training for religious leaders
designed to shed light on the pernicious effects of trafficking.
B. The Government does not systematically monitor its borders for
TIP, but border guards have been educated by AMIC. Immigration
officials described a process they follow when they identify a
potential trafficker: they detain the male adults if they cannot
prove they are the fathers, contact the police in Gabu, and arrange
transportation back to police headquarters in Gabu. Unfortunately,
these are barely treated as crimes, and traffickers are generally
released while parents are contacted to pick up their children. For
example, on Thursday, 17 December, the border guards in Gabu stopped
18 children and 2 traffickers at the border. Unfortunately, the
border guards had no means to transport them back to Gabu, so the
guards, victims and traffickers spent that night at the border. The
next day, the victims were transported to the AMIC center in Gabu.
With a number of security concerns in the country, such as increased
international drug trafficking and the urgent need for security
sector reform of the bloated, violence-prone military and numerous
social problems such as a lack of access to adequate education and
health care for most of its citizens, TIP has not surprisingly been
low on the priority list. However, even with these other issues,
the Government is doing what it can with the few resources it has
available to it. The Ministry of Interior has an inspector in
charge of crimes against children who is responsible for
coordination on law enforcement of TIP and cooperation with UNICEF.
The Institute of Women and Children has taken the lead with respect
to public awareness and
marshaling efforts of the government and the international
community. The most effective actors continue to be NGOs and
AMIC conducts regular awareness efforts on radio stations in the
Gabu area and through tireless visiting of villages in source areas.
Guinea-Bissau's Ambassador to Senegal has also contributed to
awareness efforts on the radio. These efforts are aimed at parents
in Muslim communities, notifying them of the dangers of sending
their children away for Koranic studies. One program aimed at
prevention was the creation of evening Koranic studies after the
regular school day. A group of religious village elders say the
believe this has had a positive impact and they know of many
children that come from nearby villages to study at night so they do
not have to go as far away as Senegal for the religious education
C. Relevant actors cooperate well and recognize the importance of
close coordination. An inter-ministerial committee meets regularly
to share information and coordinate activities. AMIC reports that
it gets very good cooperation from local police in assisting
repatriated children and finding parents. Local police laud the
strong work of AMIC to help them monitor villages to ensure victims
are not re-trafficked. There is a good understanding of issues and
updated policies by border police and migration officials to stop
traffickers from moving children out of the country. AMIC and
DAKAR 00000255 005 OF 005
police work with religious and community leaders in the regions of
Gabu and Bafata. Even the regional court, which was the biggest gap
in the past, has started to play an instrumental role in making the
parents understand that they will be held legally accountable if
they send their children to beg in a foreign country. This is
accomplished by serving as an intermediary to explain child
protection laws to parents and requiring them to sign a contract in
which parents of returned victims promise not to send their children
away again under penalty of jail. AMIC monitors the agreement
through visits to kids and one man has been jailed for 72 hours
under this system.
D. A national action plan does not yet exist.
E. Not applicable.
F. The GOGB took no such measures.
G. Not applicable.
5. (U) The TIP officer for Guinea-Bissau, Lance Kinne,
who is resident in Dakar, Senegal, can be reached by phone at
221-33-829-2245 and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Embassy TIP officer spent approximately 40 hours preparing this