A kidnapped schoolgirl who became a human trafficking victim has been reunited with her family in Burkina Faso after an Interpol operation freed her from sexual exploitation, the international police body said in a statement on Monday.
The 17-year-old girl went missing in January and was identified as a potential trafficking victim during a global Interpol-led crackdown – Operation Weka II – on criminal groups behind migrant smuggling and human trafficking across over 40 countries.
“Beyond our professional duty to protect vulnerable people from all forms of abuse, it is a personal satisfaction to have rescued this young girl, who was being sexually abused and exploited on our territory,” Interpol’s National Central Bureau head in Lome Commissaire Principal Akakpo said.
The girl secretly used one of the kidnapper’s mobile phones to call her parents who then notified Burkina Faso authorities that she’d been kidnapped and that she had called from a number in Togo.
The mobile number was then traced to where the 17-year-old was held captive in Togo.
“Thanks to Interpol’s police capabilities and co-operation, the young girl has been reunited with her family in Burkina Faso,” said Akakpo.
NCB Lome staff accompanied the girl to her flight back to Burkina Faso on Friday, where she was finally reunited with her family almost seven months later.
One suspect who was thought to be involved in the girl’s kidnapping has been arrested in Togo for sexually exploiting a minor.
“A combination of international police co-operation and training on innovative new investigative skills had an immediate impact on front line action and ultimately saved the life of an underage victim even though their only clue was a telephone number,” Head of NCB Burkina Faso Commissaire Principal Daoud Traore said.
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