The government decreased efforts to identify and protect victims. During the reporting period, the government did not report identifying any trafficking victims, but did report identifying 380 potential trafficking victims. This compared to identifying 114 child forced labor victims and 1,628 potential victims during the previous reporting period. According to media and government reports, police in Central Burkina Faso identified 70 children ages 11 to 16 years old en route to potential exploitation in mining sites in Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal. In August 2020, the Ministry of Women launched its third campaign to remove vulnerable children from the street, including talibés (Quranic students) exploited in forced begging. As a result of the campaign, the government identified and provided care to 275 vulnerable children and 35 women, including potential trafficking victims, compared to 1,578 vulnerable children identified and provided care as part of this campaign in the previous reporting period. As previously reported, the Ministry of Women did not involve law enforcement in the campaign, limiting subsequent investigations and prosecutions of traffickers. The government provided shelter and services including family reintegration, counseling, education, and medical services as needed to children identified during the campaign. Authorities and front-line responders effectively implemented standard victim identification and referral procedures in the regions where training had occurred. In addition, the government had a case management guide for law enforcement and social services personnel to facilitate the uniform referral of child victims of crime, including trafficking, to care. The government continued to coordinate with an international organization to screen for trafficking indicators among refugees and IDPs.
The government operated and staffed two shelters in Ouagadougou for victims of crime, including trafficking victims; the shelters were open 24 hours per day, provided food and medical assistance, and could accommodate long-term stays for both adults and children. The government did not report the number of trafficking victims, if any, it referred to the shelters during the reporting period. Outside of the capital, the Ministry of Women operated 34 regional centers for victims of crime that provided psycho-social, and food assistance. These centers provided short-term services, but usually not shelter, to an unknown number of Burkinabe and foreign child trafficking victims; the centers operated during weekly business hours and when they had sufficient funding, although the centers could provide short-term shelter to some adults and children when necessary. The short-term centers relied heavily on local NGOs and international organizations for the majority of support. When trafficking victims outside of Ouagadougou required shelter, authorities nearly always placed victims with host families or an NGO. Outside of Ouagadougou, there were no shelters or services specifically for adults. Long-term care for all victims remained inadequate. The government acknowledged victim services were insufficient, and service providers lacked the funding and resources to support victim protection, rehabilitation, and reintegration; the lack of victim support subsequently resulted in traffickers being able to exploit many victims again. The government did not report allocating funding for victim services for the second year in a row. However, the government allocated 233 billion FCFA ($440.5 million) to its humanitarian response plan intended to provide shelter, food, essential household items, and sanitary supplies to 2.9 million vulnerable people, including potential trafficking victims, in conflict-affected areas. The 2015 law on the prevention and repression of violence against women and girls mandated measures for victim support, including the establishment of free emergency integrated support centers to offer comprehensive services for women and girl victims of violence, including sex trafficking, and the creation of a government support fund for victims. The government had one such center in operation during the reporting period. The government did not report how many victims it referred to this center or provided support from the fund during the reporting period.
The government encouraged victims to participate in trials against their traffickers by providing protection through the Ministry of Women and a regional human rights office. The 2008 anti-trafficking law and 2018 penal code revisions contained provisions to protect victims’ identities and encourage their participation in prosecutions by allowing for closed sessions to hear victim testimony, excusing victims from appearing at hearings, and for social workers to accompany child victims. The government did not report if it utilized these provisions during the reporting period. Victims could file civil suits against their traffickers; however, victims were often not aware of this provision and it was not utilized during the reporting period. Foreign victims who faced hardship or retribution in their country of origin could apply for asylum, but there were no reports trafficking victims applied for asylum during the reporting period. The government facilitated repatriation of 42 Burkinabe trafficking victims identified in Cote d’Ivoire by providing financial assistance, travel documents, and reintegration support. The government coordinated with the Nigerian and Nigerien embassies in Ouagadougou and provided travel documentation to repatriate trafficking victims to Nigeria and more than 100 vulnerable people to Niger; the government provided shelter services and financial assistance to repatriate five child trafficking victims identified in 2019 to Togo. There were no reports the government penalized victims for crimes their traffickers compelled them to commit; however, without uniform implementation of victim identification measures, including among vulnerable populations, authorities may have detained some unidentified victims. The government detained 10 children ages 12 to 14 years old for alleged association with violent extremist groups, some of whom may have been trafficking victims. Authorities held all 10 children in a high security prison separately from adult detainees and allowed international organizations and NGOs access to provide specialized care, including legal services. In many cases, authorities held detainees, including children allegedly associated with violent extremist groups, without charge or trial for longer periods than the maximum sentence for the alleged offense; this included terrorism cases. Detainees, including children allegedly associated with violent extremist groups, faced harsh conditions, including inadequate food and water, and poor sanitation, heating, ventilation, lighting, and medical care. Since 2019, security forces and prison authorities have transferred 14 boys detained for alleged association with armed groups ages 10 to 16 years old to the Ministry of Women for care; the government did not report how many boys it transferred to the ministry during the reporting period. The government, with the support of an international organization, drafted a handover protocol on children associated with non-state armed groups; however, the government did not finalize the protocol by the end of the reporting period. During the reporting period, the government released six children formerly associated with armed groups to an international organization; the organization provided family tracing, reunification, and family reintegration support.