Cablegate: Guinea Bissau: Annual Trafficking in Persons Report
DE RUEHDK #0195/01 0522101
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 212101Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0053
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0270
RUEHLC/AMEMBASSY LIBREVILLE 0995
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 0828
RUEHLU/AMEMBASSY LUANDA 0446
RUEHTO/AMEMBASSY MAPUTO 0487
UNCLAS DAKAR 000195
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (CAPTION ADDED)
STATE FOR G/TIP, INL, DRL, AF/W, AF/RSA, INR/AA
ACCRA FOR USAID/WA
PARIS FOR POL D'ELIA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB KCRM KFRD KWMN PHUM PREF SMIG PU
SUBJECT: GUINEA BISSAU: ANNUAL TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT
REF: A. A) STATE 2731
B. B) DAKAR 164
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 no
statistics or reliable estimates on the scope of the problem.
The GOGB has the political will to combat this issue and,
for the first time, has instituted jail time for parents who
collude with traffickers. Police are proactive in stopping
traffickers and assisting victims.
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.
For the first time last year, villagers worked with local
officials and NGOs to teach the Koran locally as an
alternative to sending children away.
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 27. OVERVIEW OF A COUNTRY'S ACTIVITIES TO ELIMINATE
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
A. 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.
No studies have been completed on the scope of human
trafficking in or from Guinea-Bissau, and no reliable
estimates exist. The GOGB in cooperation with NGOs, police,
and international organizations repatriated 131 children from
Senegal since 2005, including 62 in the first half of 2007,
but there are many more. In one case last November, police
stopped traffickers from moving 52 Bissau-Guinean children
ages 6-11 into Senegal based on a tip-off in the town of
Bafata. One organizer was apprehended and later released
while the others escaped.
B. 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. There are an increasing number of
Koranic schools in Guinea-Bissau to meet the rising demand
for education. A June 2007 UNICEF study documented 617 such
schools throughout the country to serve as an alternative to
sending children to Senegal. Koranic teachers are highly
respected in Muslim society (the majority population in
target areas) and are able to operate with little
interference. Parents receive no compensation for sending
their children and in many cases, pay for the initial travel.
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
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 walking on 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
Living conditions for trafficked children on the streets of
Senegal's cities can be heartbreaking. 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 due with
begging as a profession. Some parents seek help from police
or NGOs to reunite with children, but they are the exception.
Again this year, the number of children repatriated and
reintegrated from Senegal is encouraging. Repatriations and
reinsertion in families and schools require significant
cooperation between NGOs, governments, police and border
officials, families and schools.
C. 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. Despite
the number of agencies that have a role, there is no
high-level coordinated initiative to fight TIP. There has
been a major improvement last year in terms of using jail to
fight TIP. While no comprehensive trafficking law exists,
police, courts, and AMIC cooperated in Gabu to put the fear
of jail into parents that send children back to the streets
after they have gone through the reinsertion program. One
man who spent 72 hours in jail "got the message" according to
the head of the regional court. When outcry about his
punishment hit the national level President Joao Bernardo
"Nino" Vieira publicly defended the jail term and pointed out
the process followed a fair trial.
D. Guinea-Bissau lacks almost everything. The police
commissariat in Gabu has one motorcycle for 87 officers. No
formal police training has been offered to them since 1996.
The police station does not have electricity -- but neither
does the governor's office. The Government's Institute of
Women and Children donated one bicycle to the police, but it
broke and they lack either the parts, know-how, or gumption
to fix it. Thanks to AMIC, twelve officers in Gabu receive
periodic formal training on trafficking in children crimes
and regular on-the-job training as they are incorporated into
all of AMIC's local operations with parents and children.
While corruption is likely a factor in the remote towns and
border areas, AMIC believes there is no high-level corruption
on this issue, and no one in the Government is getting rich
off the trafficking of children.
E. 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. The Minister of Interior, Baciro Dabo (he
has since been replaced), traveled to the key source areas in
Bafata and Gabu last year and spoke publicly and to the
police officers in his charge about zero tolerance for child
PARA 28. INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS
A. There has been no new legislation since the last report.
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.
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
E. The activities of the prostitute, brothel owner, pimp,
and customer are all criminalized. There are no statistics
on enforcement of this crime.
F. There have been no successful prosecutions of
traffickers. 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. In one case, after AMIC conducted the
verification process, they found three children missing. Two
of the fathers have not yet been located, but one father was
arrested and spent 72 hours in jail. He was released when he
agreed to find his child in Dakar and bring him home.
Men, often former talibes, 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.
G. The Government does not provide any special training on
trafficking but has said it welcomes any training that
foreign governments or international organizations can
H. Police in Gabu have worked with police in Senegal and
Guinea (Conakry) in the past, but there were no records of
joint investigations during the reporting period. The
Government does not actively investigate most cases of
trafficking, but police are proactive in stopping traffickers
and assisting victims. A cooperative effort between police,
courts, and AMIC work together to explain the law to parents
and carry out enforcement actions when they allow their
children to be re-trafficked.
I. The Government is not prohibited from extraditing its
nationals but has no record of being asked to do so for TIP.
J. There is no evidence of government involvement in TIP.
K. Not applicable
L. Not applicable
M. There is little tourism in Guinea-Bissau, and there are
no reports of child sex tourism.
The Government has not ratified ILO Convention 182 concerning
the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of
the worst forms of child labor.
ILO Conventions 29 and 105 on forced or compulsory labor were
both ratified February 21, 1977.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child (CRC) on the sale of children, child prostitution, and
child pornography was signed on September 8, 2000 and is in
the ratification process.
The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime was signed
on December 14, 2000 but not yet ratified.
PARA 29. PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS
A. A lack of resources keeps the Government from providing
many services for victims. Benevolent individuals, some with
the Government, some with police, and some NGOs, provide most
B. The only care facility expressly for TIP victims is a
rented house in Gabu. AMIC pays for the rent through its
support from international NGOs and the GOGB. AMIC is
seeking a permanent solution to this problem and post's TIP
project proposal (ref B) would support this shelter.
C. Most significant funding comes from abroad, including PRM
support to IOM for a regional repatriation and reinsertion
program. The Government continues to contribute about USD
16,000 to AMIC's annual operating budget. It cooperates and
coordinates closely with IOM, UNICEF, Save the Children
(Dakar), SOS Talibe, and other foreign NGOs.
D. Police in the primary source areas of Gabu and Bafata
coordinate closely with AMIC to assist victims and locate
E. Not applicable.
F. Victims are not punished or persecuted in any way by
anyone other than their traffickers.
G. Nothing impedes victims from seeking justice from their
traffickers other than a cultural perception that Koranic
teachers are above the law.
H. See above.
I. AMIC provides all training. Government agencies provide
full cooperation with AMIC and attend any and all training
J. 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 Affairs.
K. A non-exhaustive list includes the Red Cross, AMIC, RADDHO
(Dakar), Save the Children (Dakar), UNICEF and IOM.
PARA 30. PREVENTION
A. The Government recognizes the trafficking problem and
combats it on many fronts. 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 children.
B. 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
marshalling efforts of the government and the international
community. The National Assembly's Ad Hoc Committee for
Women's and Children's Issues continued to try -- but failed
-- to get TIP on the legislative agenda. The most effective
actors continue to be NGOs and international organizations.
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. The relationship between GOGB, NGOs, police and border
officials, and international organizations is excellent.
D. 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
As part of a PRM-supported reinsertion program for
trafficking victims implemented by the International
Organization for Migration (IOM), AMIC, and Senegalese NGOs,
the Government assists in repatriating and educating children
and families to avoid re-trafficking. This program consists
of educating parents, getting children in school, and
follow-up visits to check progress and track children. A
shelter rented by AMIC houses boys for up to one month while
their parents are located. Migration officials at Pirada
claim they do not let anyone leave the country with a child
unless the parent is present, due to trafficking concerns.
Of course the border remains porous, and guards may be
corrupt or unprofessional.
E. Relevant actors cooperate well and recognize the
importance of close coordination. AMIC reports that it gets
very good cooperation from local police in assisting
repatriated children and finding parents and local police
laud the strong work of AMIC to help them monitor villages to
ensure victims are not re-trafficked. There are 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 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.
F. There is no national plan of action to combat TIP.
Agencies involved include the Ministry of Justice, Ministry
of Interior, and the Institute of Women and Children. There
is no task force; so no agency has a clear lead.
G. Not applicable
H. Not applicable
I. Not applicable
5. (U) The TIP officer for Guinea-Bissau, Gregory Holliday,
who is resident in Dakar, Senegal, can be reached by phone at
221-33-823-4296 x2415 and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Embassy TIP officer spent approximately 40 hours preparing
for this year's TIP report. Embassy Dakar Pol FSN spent about
Visit Embassy Dakar's classified website at