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

U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Haiti

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 3 June 2005
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Haiti, 3 June 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d847c.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.

Haiti (Tier 2 Watch List)

Haiti is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. The majority of trafficking in Haiti involves the internal movement of children for forced domestic labor, referred to as "restaveks." The "restavek" tradition is widespread in Haiti, and fraught with abuse. It involves situations in which poor mothers give custody of their children to more affluent families, in the hope that they will receive an education and economic opportunities. However, the reality is more often a situation of severe mistreatment, abuse, and long hours of uncompensated hard labor. The Government of Haiti estimates there are 90,000-120,000 children in coercive labor conditions as restaveks, but UNICEF estimates the number is much higher – between 250,000 and 300,000. There is also significant cross-border trafficking between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Notably, women and girls are trafficked into Haiti for prostitution; Haitians are trafficked to the Dominican Republic for forced labor. Observers estimate 2,500-3,000 Haitian children are trafficked annually into the Dominican Republic. On a smaller scale, Haiti is also a source and transit country for illegal migration, much of it bound for the U.S. and Canada, and some of these illegal migrants may be forced into labor to repay smuggling debts.

The Interim Government of Haiti does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Haiti is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons over the past year. Since the political crisis in Haiti, the interim government has attempted to address trafficking in the country. However, there is much more that needs to be done and the new government (elections will be held this year) should be committed to addressing these issues, including the large-scale exploitation of restavek children. In the short-term, the interim government should explore ways to enact comprehensive legislative reforms to protect children in the country from trafficking and other abuses, seek out opportunities to cooperate with the Government of the Dominican Republic on cross-border trafficking, and find ways to direct resources to the Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM) and the Social Welfare Ministry (IBESR) so they may rescue and protect victims.

Prosecution

The political crisis in Haiti left the country without a truly functioning judicial system, and efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers remained weak during the reporting period. Nonetheless, the Ministry of Justice sent an advisory to judges and prosecutors reminding them of their obligations to enforce existing laws governing minors. Additionally, the BPM has made efforts to investigate trafficking-related matters, but investigations have not resulted in prosecutions or convictions. Legislative reforms and passage of the anti-trafficking law will increase the government's ability to arrest and convict traffickers, but law enforcement efforts will likely remain hampered by a lack of resources, personnel, and equipment. Haiti lacks the capacity to sufficiently monitor its borders and official corruption is endemic and continues to impede anti-trafficking efforts.

Protection

The Government of Haiti did not have the resources to adequately protect victims during the last year, and it struggled to protect Haitians who are dropped off at the Haitian border by Dominican officials. IBESR is able to provide some limited care to victims, and it did manage to reopen one shelter in Carrefour during the reporting period. Most other assistance is provided by NGOs and international organizations.

Prevention

The government lacked the resources and capacity to carry out prevention campaigns. However, the Interim President of Haiti, Boniface Alexandre, has publicly denounced the restavek practice and called on the interim government to do more. The interim government designated the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts and there was an increase in the budget in 2005 for trafficking and others matters related to the protection of children. In general, prevention campaigns are carried out by NGOs and international organizations.

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