As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Togo, and traffickers exploit victims from Togo abroad. The western border of the Plateau region, which provides easy access to major roads between Lomé and Accra, Ghana, remained a primary area traffickers used to transport victims during the reporting period. NGOs noted the Abidjan-Lagos corridor remains a prominent route for movement-based trafficking of persons—as well as the smuggling of illicit goods—with criminals using Togo as a transit country. Civil society actors and law enforcement officers reported the country’s rise as a regional economic and logistics hub has led to a corresponding increase in trafficking and smuggling. Families and trusted intermediaries take advantage of high levels of poverty throughout the country to exploit many Togolese trafficking victims, with the Centrale and Savanes regions serving as primary source regions. Traffickers force Togolese children to work in the agricultural sector—particularly on coffee, cocoa, and cotton farms—as well as in stone and sand quarries, where children and adults break rocks by hand. Observers stated trafficking networks are predominantly community-based and loosely organized by local actors.
NGOs and government officials reported markets selling Togolese children for commercial sex acts (“small girls markets” or devissime) exist in Lomé and elsewhere in the country. Traffickers visit rural areas in the north and central regions to recruit children from impoverished parents to sell in these markets. These illicit recruiters promise lucrative employment for the children and pay parents an advance before transporting the minors to Lomé, where traffickers subject minors to forced labor as domestic servants, roadside vendors, and porters, or exploit them in child sex trafficking. Togolese businesspeople exploit boys through forced labor in construction, salvage yards, mines, and as mechanics, often involving hazardous machinery.
Transnationally, fraudulent recruiters work with loosely affiliated networks to transport victims to Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, and Nigeria. Traffickers force victims to work in the following sectors: cocoa harvesting in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire; palm wine production in rural Nigeria; gold mining in Burkina Faso; domestic service in urban Nigeria; and sex trafficking in Beninese and Nigerian bars and restaurants. Traffickers recruit children from Benin and Ghana and transport them to Togo for forced labor. Illicit networks exploit Ghanaian girls in sex trafficking in Togo. Every year from September to April, in order to search for economic opportunities, many Togolese adults and children migrate to Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, where criminal elements may exploit them in forced labor and sex trafficking. Nigerians force Togolese men to work in agriculture and Togolese women in domestic service in Nigeria. Some fraudulent labor agencies recruit Togolese and West African women for employment in Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, where wealthy families exploit them in domestic servitude or sex trafficking. Officials noted sex tourists from Lebanon, France, and Nigeria exploit children in Togo.