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Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Dominican Republic

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Dominican Republic, 14 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c1883f9c.html [accessed 22 December 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 3)

The Dominican Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution and forced labor. Dominican women and children are subjected to forced prostitution in the Dominican Republic, throughout the Caribbean, Europe, South America, and the United States. The UN has reported on forced prostitution of Dominican women in brothels in Haiti frequented by MINUSTAH Peacekeepers. Dominican men and women have been subjected to forced labor in the United States and Argentina. Women from various countries were reportedly brought to the Dominican Republic for prostitution, and an unknown number may have subsequently become trafficking victims, even if they came voluntarily at first. While the Ministry of Labor reported that sugar plantations no longer use child labor, the sugar industry has been cited as vulnerable for possible use of forced labor. A 2009 NGO study found of some 500 male Haitian construction workers interviewed, 21 percent reported experiencing forced labor in the Dominican Republic at some point, although not in their current jobs as construction workers. Street children and undocumented or stateless Haitian people – including the Dominican-born children and grandchildren of Haitian migrants – were vulnerable groups to trafficking. Child sex tourism is a problem, particularly in coastal resort areas, with child sex tourists arriving year-round from various countries.

The Government of the Dominican Republic does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The government has not convicted any trafficking offenders, including officials possibly complicit in trafficking, since 2007. Results in the areas of victim protection, and trafficking prevention were also limited.

Recommendations for the Dominican Republic: Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and punish trafficking offenders, especially public officials complicit in human trafficking; separate and track data on prosecutions, convictions, and sentences involving forced prostitution and forced labor as opposed to human smuggling, and consider prosecution of forced prostitution cases under the comprehensive anti-trafficking law rather than under the lesser offense of pimping; encourage the identification of more victims by working with NGOs to establish formal procedures to guide police and other officials in identifying trafficking victims and referring them to available services; institute formal, ongoing training for police, border officials, labor inspectors, and health officials on the difference between smuggling and trafficking, and in identifying and assisting victims of forced prostitution and forced labor; ensure adequate shelter and services are available to adult and child victims; ensure victims are not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; establish formal legal alternatives to removal for foreign victims to countries where they would face retribution or hardship; and increase prevention and demand-reduction efforts.

Prosecution

The government made no discernible progress in prosecuting or punishing trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Dominican law prohibits all forms of trafficking through its comprehensive anti-trafficking Law 137-03, which prescribes penalties of up to 20 years' imprisonment. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. Authorities confirmed only one new trafficking investigation during the reporting period and did not confirm any new prosecutions or convictions of forced labor or forced prostitution during the reporting period. The government reported 36 persons "currently in preventive detention" under Law 137-03, but these data conflate trafficking and smuggling, as Law 137-03 covers both. Authorities reported the government may prosecute trafficking offenders under other statutes; NGO observers have said corruption on the part of authorities is a problem. The government worked in partnership with other countries to extradite two wanted alleged trafficking offenders. The government reported it provided training for officials posted abroad on identifying and assisting trafficking victims, and each year, judges take an on-line course on trafficking, available through the National Magistrates School.

Protection

The government claimed it made several efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims, but results were limited. The government did not clarify whether it has a formal mechanism to guide officials in proactively identifying victims among vulnerable groups and refer them to available services offered by NGOs. The government provided $13,500 in support for an NGO-run shelter and religious order that assisted adult, female victims, and the Office of the First Lady continued to work on the establishment of a shelter dedicated to trafficking victims, but the number of victims the government reported assisting during the rating period remained small. A government agency, which is reportedly underfunded, managed shelters for children that assisted child trafficking victims during the reporting period. While the government did not provide formal long-term reintegration assistance programs for trafficking victims, the First Lady's office facilitated victims' access to psychological and financial support, and another government agency offered skills training to some victims during the reporting period. The government did not have in place formal legal alternatives to deportation for foreign victims to countries in which they would face retribution or hardship, but no victims were deported in practice. The government claimed to have encouraged victims to assist with the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, but few elected to do so. One NGO reported migrants who were subjected to forced labor rarely went to authorities due to fears of Dominican officials' complicity with human traffickers. Another NGO reported an instance where several victims were willing to assist with a prosecution but claimed there had been no progress in four years. Some officials and an NGO reported some alleged trafficking offenders made deals to compensate victims in lieu of criminal prosecution.

Prevention

The government made no discernible progress on measures to prevent human trafficking during the reporting period. The government did not implement a national public awareness campaign during the reporting period, though there were several campaigns on raising anti-trafficking awareness targeted toward at-risk populations and tourist areas. A national interagency anti-trafficking commission chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated interagency cooperation and oversaw implementation of a national action plan, which remained reliant on donor funding but was hampered by lack of participation of the prosecution service. The government did not undertake efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period.

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