Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Aruba

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Aruba, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee99c.html [accessed 18 April 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.

Aruba (Tier 2) *

* Aruba is a semi-autonomous entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Kingdom Charter divides responsibility among the co-equal parts of the Kingdom based on jurisdiction. For the purpose of this report, Aruba is not a "country" to which the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act apply. This narrative reflects how Aruba would be assessed if it were a separate, independent country.

Aruba is primarily a destination for women and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Those at greatest risk of trafficking are foreign women in Aruba's commercial sex trade and foreign men and women in the service and construction industries. Also at risk are Chinese men and women working in supermarkets as well as Indian men in the jewelry sector, and Caribbean and South American women in domestic service. There are indications of past instances of Aruban children under 18 in prostitution in Aruba.

The Government of Aruba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government has not yet successfully prosecuted any trafficking offenders to date, though the Aruban anti-trafficking coordinator has demonstrated outstanding leadership in advancing the government's response to human trafficking during her short time in office, and the government initiated several complex prosecutions during the reporting season. The government also showed improved efforts in the area of victim protection, primarily officials' increased victim identification measures.

Recommendations for Aruba: Implement procedures to guide health officials charged with screening people in prostitution on the identification and referral of suspected victims of human trafficking to the anti-trafficking committee; formalize victim protection policies for adults and children that include provisions ensuring identified trafficking victims are not punished for crimes committed as a direct result of their human trafficking situation and ensuring safe and, to the extent possible, voluntary repatriation for foreign victims; consider providing the anti-trafficking committee with an independent budget as a means to ensure its effectiveness; include the child protection agency as part of the anti-trafficking committee and in training opportunities; empower the anti-trafficking committee to direct formal training opportunities toward committee-identified areas of high need; expand multi-lingual public outreach activities; and consider ways to educate clients of the sex trade about the causes and consequences of trafficking.

Prosecution

The Government of Aruba demonstrated strong law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Aruba prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through Articles 203a and 286a of its criminal code, which prescribes penalties ranging from four to 15 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. In 2010, the government initiated seven trafficking investigations and arrested four people, including one police officer, in a case involving forced prostitution and forced labor. Authorities initiated prosecutions of three of the arrestees and a disciplinary process for the police officer. The prosecutions have involved many witnesses from multiple countries, and the government expected to bring the case to trial in late 2011. Two of the defendants remained in pre-trial detention. During the reporting period, the anti-trafficking coordinator took steps toward elevating the discourse on trafficking complicity in the region by speaking in public forums about her concerns regarding the linkage between official complicity and human trafficking in Aruba. The police established a team that specializes in human trafficking cases. The Royal Military Police and Dutch NGO Comensha have offered periodic training opportunities as has Aruba's anti-trafficking coordinator.

Protection

The Government of Aruba demonstrated progress in its victim protection efforts during the reporting period. Largely due to the positive work of the anti-trafficking committee, the government identified up to 46 adult victims of human trafficking in 2010, a significant achievement, particularly when contrasted with the lack of any victims identified in 2009. The government did not provide routine, formal training in victim identification to law enforcement officers and officials charged with providing regular health checks on people in Aruba's sex trade. The government implemented a victim referral mechanism; the government directed all reported trafficking cases to a small group from the anti-trafficking committee, which devised assistance plans tailored for each victim identified in coordination with the Bureau for Victim Assistance and other government agencies. The committee did not, however, have dedicated funds to provide specialized services for trafficking victims. In one situation, an NGO that reportedly did not receive government funding assisted the committee by sheltering a male victim. In another situation, the government employed a Kingdom of the Netherlands memorandum of understanding to obtain Kingdom funds for victims' access to protective services. During the reporting period, the government issued a ministerial decree to ensure victims have access to legal aid. Aruba's child protection agency would handle victim assistance for any cases of child trafficking, though the government did not identify any child trafficking victims during the reporting period.

The government encouraged trafficking victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenders and did not punish identified victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. According to Aruban officials, the government offered identified trafficking victims relief from immediate deportation. The government worked with IOM on the safe repatriation of several foreign victims.

Prevention

The government made some efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking during the reporting period. In a positive step, Aruba's justice minister spoke out in January 2011 against human trafficking and, in conjunction, raised awareness about Aruba's crime victim hotline, which has been staffed by operators trained to identify and refer trafficking victims. The government sustained the functions of an anti-trafficking committee started in 2007. The committee achieved tangible results, for example the rescue of victims, and has been developing a large-scale public awareness campaign, but its operations depended on the personal commitment of the anti-trafficking coordinator and participants as the committee has no funding attached to its operations or projects. Aruba does not have a trafficking rapporteur to monitor and evaluate its anti-trafficking efforts, but Aruba's anti-trafficking coordinator and director of public prosecutions were required to provide written reports on anti-trafficking results every three months to Aruba's Justice Minister in preparation for Kingdom justice meetings. The government has formally presented and shared its best practices on regional cooperation, victim identification, and investigation of trafficking cases in several international forums. There were no awareness campaigns specifically targeting potential clients of the sex trade in Aruba in an effort reduce demand for commercial sex acts. There were no known reports of child sex tourism occurring in Aruba or of Arubans participating in international sex tourism, though the government has expressed willingness for training in this area.

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