The government maintained protection efforts. The government did not report identifying any trafficking victims, but one official reported authorities identified at least 399 potential child trafficking victims in 2021. This compared with identifying 380 potential victims, including 70 children identified en route to possible exploitation in mining and 310 potential victims identified as part of the government’s campaign to remove vulnerable children from the street, including talibés (Quranic students) exploited in forced begging, during the previous year; the government did not report continuing this campaign. The government did not report how many potential victims, if any, it referred to services. Authorities and front-line responders had standard victim identification and referral procedures in some regions. In addition, the government had a case management guide for law enforcement and social service providers to facilitate the uniform referral of child victims of crime, including trafficking victims, to care. However, the government did not report whether officials used these procedures during the reporting period. The government continued to coordinate with an international organization to screen for trafficking indicators among refugees and IDPs but did not report identifying any potential victims among these populations.
The government operated 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. Outside of the capital, the Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, Family and Humanitarian Action (Ministry of Women) operated 34 regional centers for victims of crime that provided short-term services, including psycho-social, and food assistance. These centers operated during weekly business hours when they had sufficient funding, although the centers could provide short-term shelter to some adults and children when necessary. The centers relied heavily on local NGOs and international organizations for support. When trafficking victims outside of Ouagadougou required shelter, authorities nearly always placed victims with host families or NGOs. Outside of Ouagadougou, there were no shelters or services specifically for adults. Long-term care for all victims remained inadequate, and service providers lacked the funding and resources to support victim services and reintegration. The lack of support subsequently increased victims’ vulnerability to re- trafficking. The government worked with international organizations and foreign donors to implement its humanitarian response plan, providing shelter, food, and essential supplies to millions of vulnerable people in conflict-affected areas, including potential trafficking victims. 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 female victims of violence, including sex trafficking, and the creation of a government support fund for victims. The government operated four of these support centers. The government did not report how many victims, if any, it referred to the support centers or provided support from the fund.
The 2008 anti-trafficking law and 2018 penal code contained provisions to protect victims’ identities and encourage their participation in prosecutions against their alleged traffickers by allowing for closed sessions to hear victim testimony, excusing victims from appearing at hearings, and allowing social workers to accompany child victims. Victims could access legal services through the government’s legal aid fund for vulnerable populations. However, the government did not report utilizing these provisions during the reporting period. The law allowed victims to obtain restitution, but the government did not report pursuing restitution in any cases. In addition, victims could file civil suits against traffickers, but no victims reportedly did so, in part due to lack of awareness. 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.
Since victim identification procedures were not in use nationwide or uniformly implemented where in use, officials likely detained some unidentified victims. The government inappropriately detained 18 children ages 12 to 17 years old for alleged association with violent extremist groups, some of whom may have been trafficking victims; 15 of the children remained in detention at the end of the reporting period. Authorities held the 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. The government did not finalize a previously drafted protocol for the handover of children associated with non-state armed groups to civilian protection actors for the second consecutive year.