Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Dominican Republic

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 5 June 2006
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Dominican Republic, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d8859.html [accessed 30 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Dominican Republic (Tier 2)

The Dominican Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. IOM estimates that 50,000 Dominican women work in prostitution around the world and that an estimated one-third of these women are trafficking victims. Other international organizations estimate that between 30,000 and 50,000 Dominicans are victims of trafficking. Dominican women are often recruited through acquaintances or family networks, and by means of false promises and misleading employment advertisements. Many are unaware of the true nature of the work, the coercive demands that later will be made of them, or the amount of money they will receive. The primary destinations include Argentina, Australia, the Netherlands, Brazil, Costa Rica, the Netherlands Antilles, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Panama, Suriname, and Switzerland. There is also significant internal trafficking of women and children from rural areas to cities and tourist districts. Haitians are trafficked to the Dominican Republic to work in the sugarcane industry in shantytowns, referred to as "bateys." The conditions in the bateys are substandard; in some bateys, armed guards reportedly kept workers' clothes and documents.

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 has undertaken modest improvements to combat trafficking throughout the country, but much more should be done to address corruption, which often impedes investigations and law enforcement efforts in the country. Additionally, more attention should be given to identifying and aiding potential Haitian victims of trafficking. Increased efforts in victim protection are also necessary, and the government should work to increase funding to those agencies and organizations that are providing shelters and social services to trafficking victims.

Prosecution

The Dominican Republic's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts increased over the reporting period, and the government made significant efforts to provide trafficking-related law enforcement data. The Dominican Republic has an anti-trafficking law, enacted in 2003. The law addresses both alien smuggling and trafficking in persons, and provides for penalties from 15-20 years' imprisonment and fines of 175 times the minimum wage. This law was used to convict seven individuals over the reporting period. There are also a number of related criminal laws that may be used against traffickers. During the reporting period, the government closed several brothels where children were being exploited, and convicted one of the brothel owners, sentencing him to five years' imprisonment. The government also secured convictions of four other trafficking defendants under its anti-trafficking law. These convictions resulted in 15-year prison terms for each defendant and 24 children were rescued from a brothel as a result. Child trafficker Maria Martinez Nunez, who had been awaiting trial since 2002, was also convicted. According to the Attorney General's Office, there are an additional 10 prosecutions underway. There were no reported investigations or prosecutions of public officials for complicity in trafficking despite widespread reporting of such corruption.

Protection

The government's efforts to protect victims of trafficking continued to be hampered by a lack of resources. Under the anti-trafficking law, victims are entitled to housing, medical care, and access to educational and other services. There are no shelters in the country specifically aimed at assisting trafficking victims; resource constraints make it difficult to fulfill this aspect of the law. The government's social services agency (CONANI) runs seven shelters in the country that may aid child trafficking victims. In addition, the government provides some funding to the Adoratrices Center, a religious organization that is coordinating with IOM to rehabilitate trafficking victims and provide them with vocational training. Adult trafficking victims are generally referred to IOM or to anti-trafficking NGOs. An important aspect of anti-trafficking efforts is the government's professional development institute (INFOTEP), which provides job training to trafficking victims. The government has also stepped up efforts to control the Haitian border, and some advocates believe this has lowered the number of Haitians trafficked into the country. The government continues to deny birth certificates to Haitians born in the Dominican Republic, which leaves them more vulnerable to traffickers and also leaves them without access to certain services in the Dominican Republic.

Prevention

The government acknowledges that trafficking is a problem and has established anti-trafficking units in the Attorney General's office, the National Police, the Migration Directorate, and the Secretariat of Foreign Relations. The government sponsored several education and prevention campaigns, including "La Ley Pega Fuerte" ("The Law Strikes Hard"), with posters and brochures that highlight the legal consequences of trafficking in persons. The government also held and participated in international seminars aimed at preventing trafficking, including a program designed to provide job training for youth at risk of trafficking. An October program in Boca Chica, a known hotspot for sex tourism, reached 400 adolescents.

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