U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Dominican Republic
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||12 June 2007|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Dominican Republic, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be3ac23.html [accessed 21 September 2014]|
Dominican Republic (Tier 2 Watch List)
The Dominican Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Dominican women and children are trafficked for sexual exploitation to Western Europe, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, Panama, and Suriname. A significant number of women and children also are trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Some Dominican-born children are trafficked into forced labor and organized begging rings. Some Haitians, including children, are trafficked to the Dominican Republic for forced labor in agriculture and construction sectors; many live in squalid shantytowns known as "bateyes." Venezuelans and Colombians also are reportedly trafficked to the country for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Some Chinese nationals have been smuggled to the Dominican Republic, allegedly with the assistance of high-level Dominican consular and immigration officials, and subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude while waiting to make their way to the United States.
The Government of the Dominican Republic does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The Dominican Republic is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, particularly in terms of providing increased assistance to victims and undertaking vigorous actions to counter official complicity with trafficking activity. Although the Office of the Public Prosecutor made strong efforts to prosecute trafficking offenders last year, the government should increase anti-trafficking law enforcement personnel and capacity, and step up efforts to root out aggressively any official complicity with human trafficking, especially among senior-level officials. The Dominican Republic should provide greater legal protections for trafficking victims, and increase anti-trafficking prevention efforts and resources for agencies and organizations providing shelters and social services. More attention should be directed to identifying and assisting Haitian trafficking victims.
The Government of the Dominican Republic made efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes during the reporting period. The Dominican Republic prohibits all forms of trafficking through its comprehensive anti-trafficking law, Law 137-03, which prescribes penalties of up to 20 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave offenses. The government initiated 120 trafficking and alien-smuggling prosecutions under the law last year, obtaining three trafficking-specific convictions; defendants received sentences ranging from 15 to 20 years' imprisonment. While the government's efforts to convict traffickers remained level with last year, more than 30 prosecutions during the reporting period arose from arrests of military and other public officials for involvement with trafficking; of this number, three officials have been convicted. While this represents important progress in an extremely difficult area, the Dominican Republic should do much more to tackle the critical issue of official complicity with human trafficking at all levels of government. Press reports allege that high-level consular and immigration officials were directly involved with the smuggling of Chinese nationals, some of them trafficking victims, to the Dominican Republic. Any individuals found to be implicated in alien smuggling or trafficking should be brought to justice. The Director of the Office of the Public Prosecutor's Anti-Trafficking Unit had made some progress in addressing these and other areas; however, he remained suspended from his duties at the end of the reporting period for unspecified reasons.
The government's efforts to protect victims of trafficking remained inadequate, as it continued to rely heavily on NGOs and international organizations to provide the bulk of protection services. While the government maintains shelters and programs for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, these services are not generally accessible to trafficking victims. The government has not developed formal procedures for identifying victims among vulnerable populations, such as undocumented migrants or persons detained for prostitution offenses. The government continued, however, to train officials posted abroad on recognizing and assisting trafficking victims overseas. Victims' rights are generally respected, and there were no reports of victims being jailed or penalized for crimes committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. However, there were reports that some officials conspired with employers to repatriate trafficked persons of Haitian descent if they attempted to leave exploitative work environments, forcing them to leave behind their pay and belongings. Dominican authorities generally encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, though undocumented persons of Haitian descent were often neglected. The government does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution. The government should assure protection to Haitians and undocumented persons of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic, many of whom fall victim to human trafficking.
The government carried out limited prevention efforts by conducting anti-trafficking seminars at schools across the country, reaching more than 5,000 students. The government relies on NGOs and international organizations for all other prevention activities.