Protection against human trafficking in Cameroon (TIP 2023)

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The government slightly increased victim protection efforts.  Although the government did not maintain comprehensive statistics, officials reported identifying 12 confirmed trafficking victims and an additional 23 potential trafficking victims.  This compared with zero identified victims and 90 potential trafficking victims identified in 2021.  Of the 12 victims confirmed to be trafficking victims, traffickers exploited six in sex trafficking and six in labor trafficking; six were adult women, and six were children (four boys and two girls); nine were Cameroonian nationals, and three were foreign nationals from Vietnam.  The government intercepted the 23 potential victims from Chad at the airport; the Ministry of Social Affairs (MINAS) provided care for three months and, in partnership with an international organization, the government repatriated the potential victims back to Chad.  In addition to victims identified by the government, NGOs reported identifying and assisting at least 201 victims.  The government continued to implement its victim identification and referral SOPs, but it did not report whether the SOPs were consistently used.  The government reported proactively screening vulnerable populations, particularly migrant workers traveling through airports, for trafficking indicators and continued to maintain anti-trafficking units at Yaoundé and Douala’s international airports.

The government reported providing assistance to 32 trafficking victims, including shelter, basic needs, psycho-social support, health care, and family reunification assistance, at six MINAS-run social centers in Yaoundé, Douala, and Betamba.  The government did not report how many potential victims received services in 2021. MINAS had the authority to admit children subjected to abuse – including trafficking victims – to government institutions for vulnerable children, which offered shelter, food, medical as well as psychological care, education, vocational training, and family tracing. The government continued to provide some support, including building costs, to NGO-funded centers that provided care to trafficking victims. The government also provided subsidies to MINAS-partnered organizations that provided temporary shelter to trafficking survivors, children, and women.  In addition, MINAS provided consular and legal assistance to 1,500 Cameroonians, which may have included potential trafficking victims returning from Equatorial Guinea by providing travel documents and facilitating their return to their home communities. Despite these available services, the government continued to lack sufficient resources to adequately protect trafficking victims.  The government initiated negotiations on bilateral labor agreements with Gulf states to facilitate the repatriation of Cameroonian trafficking victims exploited abroad.

Due to the limited use of the victim identification procedures and understanding of the crime among officials, authorities may have detained or deported some unidentified victims. The government did not have a formal policy to provide victim-witness assistance to victims participating in investigations and prosecutions and did not provide victim-witness assistance to any victims cooperating with trafficking investigations, despite reports indicating traffickers often threatened victims during trials.  Victims could obtain restitution from convicted traffickers through criminal proceedings or seek damages through civil suits; however, the government did not report whether courts awarded any restitution during the reporting period. The government could grant temporary residency status to foreign victims who, if deported, may face hardship or retribution; however, it did not report providing this accommodation during the reporting period.

from 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – U.S. Department of State

2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States Department of State

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