The government made negligible efforts to identify and protect victims. The government reported identifying and referring to care seven potential child trafficking victims, compared with 41 child trafficking victims identified and referred to care during the previous reporting period. The government used a Trafficking in Persons Procedural Manual, developed in coordination with an international organization, that defined standard operating procedures (SOPs) for child trafficking victim identification and referral to care. Additionally, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs had a referral process to transfer child trafficking victims to government and NGO-run shelters for assistance. While the government referred children to care, NGOs had inadequate funding to effectively care for these victims. The government did not have SOPs for the identification and referral to care for adult trafficking victims.
The government did not report whether it contributed any funding to NGOs providing shelter and services to victims; a lack of shelter space to accommodate trafficking victims persisted. Observers reported limited shelter space may have hindered support for some law enforcement investigations due to concerns victims would not have access to long- term shelter. The government continued to fund two NGO-run shelters offering holistic services to child trafficking victims, orphans, and children experiencing homelessness, providing financial and in-kind support, including funding for social workers, medical support, psychological services, legal assistance, and tuition. In partnership with local NGOs, the government funded a shelter with the capacity to care for 80 children. Some shelter and law enforcement personnel used their own money to fill gaps in government funding to assist victims. The same services were available for male, female, foreign national, and Gabonese victims, including those repatriated from abroad. There were no government- or NGO-run shelters specifically designated for adult trafficking victims, although adult victims could potentially access government services for victims of domestic abuse or other forms of maltreatment. The pandemic reduced staff capacity to operate the shelters. Officials permitted adult male victims to leave shelters unchaperoned, but not adult female victims, based on concerns related to safety and a risk of re-trafficking.
The Gabonese government, foreign governments, and local NGOs reported repatriating 33 trafficking victims during the reporting period. Victims were eligible for immigration relief to remain in Gabon if they faced threats to their safety in their country of origin; officials did not report any victims utilizing this legal alternative during the reporting period. While the government previously sought restitution for trafficking victims, it did not report doing so during this reporting period. Victims could file civil suits against their traffickers, but there were no known cases of such action, in part due to lack of knowledge of the option. Due to a lack of formal identification procedures for adults, authorities may have detained some unidentified trafficking victims.