Five convicted of child trafficking in legal first for Togo

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19 June 2007

Five men were convicted of child trafficking in the first case of its kind in Togo.

They were found guilty on 19 June of trafficking five children to Nigeria. Three of the men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to two years with fines of up to US$2,000. One trafficker was fined US$600, which will be used towards costs of repatriating the children, and another was given a 12-month suspended jail term.

“The most important thing for us is the strong message that the Government wants to send to traffickers, which is that impunity is no longer acceptable in Togo,” Cléophas Mally, Director of WAO Afrique, Anti-Slavery International’s partner, said.

These are the first convictions under Togo’s anti-trafficking law despite its being in force since August 2005. Under the law, traffickers face up to five years in prison and fines of up to US$20,000. If the child is subject to violence, disappears or dies, the sentence is doubled to 10 years. The law applies to traffickers regardless of where the child is taken to or from. Prior to this, traffickers were held for only a few days with no penalties.

Children as young as five years old are trafficked within Togo as well as to countries in the region, including to Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger into a range of forced labour including domestic work, agriculture, fishing and work in markets as well as into sexual exploitation.