The government maintained weak protection efforts. For the second consecutive year, the government identified fewer trafficking victims than the previous year. The Ministry of Social Affairs’ (MSA) Child Protection Director General reported the government identified 23 child trafficking victims (one boy and 22 girls) and no adult victims, compared with 132 child victims and 43 adult victims in 2020. The Child Protection Directorate General reported officials intercepted children at Togo’s border destined for Nigeria, Gabon, Benin, and Burkina Faso, but it did not provide information on the number of children intercepted, compared with 250 children intercepted during the prior reporting period. Government officials reported movement restrictions due to the pandemic may have hindered victim identification efforts. NGOs and international organizations reported identifying 419 victims during the reporting period, which included 417 children (316 girls and 101 boys) and two adult women. Law enforcement, immigration, and social service personnel used a written manual, last updated in 2012, to identify and refer victims to services in coordination with NGOs; however, the manual did not include SOPs for identifying victims among high-risk populations, such as women in commercial sex. The MSA continued to run a toll-free hotline for reporting child abuse, which operated 16 hours per day, seven days a week. Officials reported identifying 12 child victims from hotline tips during the reporting period, compared with 13 child victims during the previous reporting period. The MSA provided cell phones to Allo 10-11’s network of 150 contacts to facilitate nationwide coverage and utilized an informal referral system when callers identified potential victims.
The government reported providing psychological support, food, clothing, and health care to 11 victims, compared with providing services to 48 child victims in 2020. While the government ran a shelter for vulnerable children, including child trafficking victims, there were no shelters specifically for adult trafficking victims, severely limiting their access to care and justice. Instead, the government referred adult trafficking victims to a center intended for victims of natural and humanitarian disasters. The MSA continued to operate the Reference Center for the Guidance and Care of Children in a Difficult Situation (CROPESDI). The CROPESDI shelter, located in Lomé, received victims referred by the national child abuse hotline and provided shelter, as well as legal, medical, and social services, before transferring them to care facilities managed by NGOs. The government did not report how many child trafficking victims the shelter served. Observers reported the lack of shelter options for adult victims adversely impacted efforts to investigate potential cases; in some cases, officers reported using their own resources for shelter and basic necessities for adult victims, which disincentivized some police from pursuing viable cases. The government reportedly offered foreign trafficking victims the same access to shelters as domestic victims and performed a risk evaluation before it repatriated potential victims. The government identified and assisted an NGO in the repatriation of ten Ghanian children.
For the third consecutive year, the government allocated 18 million FCFA ($30,940) to efforts combatting child trafficking, of which it designated 11 million FCFA ($18,910) for victim care. The government additionally committed to providing 600,000 FCFA ($1,030) to each of the six NGO shelters that it supported but did not report if these funds were dispersed by the end of the reporting period. In 2020, the government formed a 5,000-person taskforce to enforce the country’s state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the participation of officials with anti-trafficking responsibilities in the taskforce continued to limit the government’s ability to implement protection efforts. The government did not have a formal process to encourage victims’ participation in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers and did not report providing protection services to adult victims who testified during court proceedings. Due to a lack of comprehensive dentification procedures, authorities may have detained or deported some unidentified trafficking victims.