Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Haiti

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Haiti, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
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.

Haiti (Tier 3)

[*Please note: Haiti was updated to Tier 2 per President George W. Bush, Presidential Determination No. 2003-35, September 9, 2003.]

Haiti is mainly a source country for trafficking of children for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Haitian children are trafficked internally by poor parents who place their children as servants ("restaveks") in households of better-off families. Although not all children are victimized in this process, significant numbers are sexually exploited and otherwise abused in sometimes slave-like conditions. The Government of Haiti states that from 90,000 to 120,000 children are restaveks (UNICEF's estimate is 250,000 to 300,000). Haitian children also are trafficked into the Dominican Republic where some are similarly exploited. Large numbers of Haitian economic migrants illegally enter the Dominican Republic where some become trafficking victims. On a smaller scale, Haiti is a transit and destination country. Victims are third country illegal migrants, often Chinese, transiting through Haiti on the way to North America, where they encounter forced labor exploitation to repay traffickers. Women from the Dominican Republic are trafficked into Haiti for prostitution. Reports indicate that many of these women travel voluntarily, but some are victims of trafficking.

The Government of Haiti does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Although faced with a wide array of national challenges, the Government of Haiti needs to undertake significant steps even in the context of its limited capacity to address trafficking.


The government is attempting to educate the public with national television and radio messages on the mistreatment of children, including restaveks. Officials, including the First Lady, have spoken out against the use of restaveks. However, more needs to be done. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, charged with redressing the restaveks abuse, is one of the least-funded in the government. In 2003, the government planned a series of seminars to target parents, educators, and children to discourage them from taking part in the restaveks practice.


The Government of Haiti has recently passed a law prohibiting the trafficking of children and held an inter-ministerial conference to plan its implementation; however, the government to date does not arrest or prosecute traffickers. There are national statutes regulating child domestic labor, but these laws are not enforced. Governmental measures to address the problems associated with restaveks are in their infancy. The government does not adequately monitor and control its border.


Government efforts to address abuses of restaveks have been frustrated due to continuing severe financial limitations. The Haitian Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs finances four monitors (four others are financed by donors) to oversee the welfare of the tens of thousands of restaveks children. The government sponsors a hotline where abuses can be reported. Monitors investigate and respond to calls for assistance, but given the magnitude of the restaveks problem, these efforts are minimal. The number of children rescued from trafficking has declined in the past three years (in 2002 it was about 100). Government officials work with local NGOs to resettle children or find their natural families.

Search Refworld