Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Suriname
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||14 June 2010|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Suriname, 14 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c1883c4b.html [accessed 24 November 2014]|
SURINAME (Tier 2)
Suriname is a destination, source, and transit country for children, women, and men who are subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Women from Suriname, Brazil, Guyana, and the Dominican Republic in Suriname's commercial sex trade are vulnerable to forced prostitution. There were also reports of underage Surinamese girls in prostitution in French Guiana. Labor trafficking victims were often male and came from Suriname, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, and Haiti. Victims have been forced to work in factories, the fishing industry, and agriculture. NGOs and the government suggested that girls and boys are engaged in prostitution in Suriname's interior around mining camps. NGOs reported there were children engaged in prostitution in Paramaribo as well. Groups particularly vulnerable to trafficking included Maroon Surinamese, Amerindians, Chinese residents of Suriname, and other foreign migrant workers. Children working in informal urban sectors and gold mines were also vulnerable to forced labor.
The Government of Suriname does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government acknowledged Suriname's trafficking problem, and despite significant resource constraints, it demonstrated improved prosecution of trafficking offenders. Victim identification and assistance mechanisms were weak. Government officials initiated public awareness events, but a national awareness campaign and anti-trafficking hotline were not in place during the reporting period.
Recommendations for Suriname: Vigorously investigate and prosecute public officials who allegedly facilitate trafficking offenses; establish provisions for legal alternatives to victims' removal to countries where they would face retribution or hardship; enact changes to the criminal code to ensure that all identified victims are not inappropriately incarcerated, fined, or otherwise penalized solely for unlawful acts as a direct result of being trafficked; provide training to law enforcement and immigration officials regarding the identification and treatment of trafficking victims using approaches that focus on the needs of the victims; ensure victims are encouraged but not coerced to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions – one way to do this is through the establishment of victim-witness coordinators located within law enforcement; in partnership with NGOs or international organizations, consider developing a national anti-trafficking awareness campaign that targets victims, the general public, potential clients of the sex trade and beneficiaries of forced labor; explore possibilities for a hotline for trafficking victims and the public to report human trafficking to authorities; consider developing a national anti-trafficking action plan that includes partnerships to prevent possible child sex tourism.
The Government of Suriname demonstrated progress in prosecuting trafficking offenders over the last year. Suriname prohibits all forms of human trafficking through a 2006 amendment to its Criminal Code, which prescribes sufficiently stringent penalties of five to 20 years' imprisonment – penalties that are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes. The public prosecutor reported two arrests of alleged sex traffickers during the reporting period and 10 trafficking prosecutions – three involved forced prostitution, and seven involved forced labor. Three sex trafficking offenders and three labor trafficking offenders were convicted during the reporting period, compared with a total of only three trafficking convictions the previous year. The average prison sentence imposed on these convicted traffickers was approximately 19 months – two trafficking offenders were required to serve only two-thirds of their sentences pending appeals, but there were no suspended sentences. The police continued to operate a specialized anti-trafficking unit; however, it did not have the resources to conduct investigations into trafficking allegations linked to illegal gold mining sites in the country's jungle interior. While some officials reportedly facilitated trafficking by accepting money and favors in exchange for documentation for illegal migrants, the government determined that similar allegations regarding two high level officials were unfounded.
The government demonstrated no discernible progress in ensuring that trafficking victims were given access to protective services. The police regularly inspected places where trafficking victims might be found, such as massage parlors, and brothels, but during the reporting period, the government identified only two trafficking victims. A senior government official and one NGO voiced concern that immigration officers did not practice effective proactive victim identification procedures. The anti-trafficking working group created a handbook to guide officials in victim identification and referring victims to a local private foundation; however, due to resource constraints, the government was not able to provide support for a shelter for trafficking victims, nor did it fund NGOs providing victim services. Although the government did not demonstrate the systematic referral of identified trafficking victims to NGOs that provide services, the police assisted some victims in making housing arrangements on an ad hoc basis. To date, there have been no formal mechanisms established to provide foreign victims with legal alternatives to remain permanently in Suriname. The government claimed that it encouraged victims to assist with the prosecution of trafficking offenders; however, the legal system requires foreign victims to remain in Suriname until their sworn statements can be provided to a court and a judge certifies their repatriation. Throughout this period, victims are not given temporary legal status and they cannot seek employment. This policy could potentially deny victims basic freedoms and coerce them into providing court statements. Suriname's criminal code does not have specific provisions that ensure victims are not penalized for unlawful acts as a result of their trafficking experience; however, in practical application, there were no reports of the government penalizing identified victims for unlawful acts. The government did not offer any new training for law enforcement, prosecutors, judges or other officials in identifying trafficking over the past year but had offered such training in the past.
The government made limited progress in trafficking prevention efforts. In a positive step, government officials have acknowledged that trafficking is a serious problem in Suriname. The government's inter-agency anti-trafficking working group, led by the chief prosecutor, coordinates the government's anti-trafficking efforts and continued an information campaign aimed at educating various groups, including journalists, religious groups, government agencies, youth organizations, labor unions, brothel owners, and NGOs through speaking engagements. The police's anti-trafficking unit conducted an outreach program to Benzdorp, a Brazilian-dominated gold-mining area. There is no national anti-trafficking action plan in Suriname, but the working group has made anti-trafficking recommendations to the Ministry of Justice and Police. There is no hotline for citizens or potential victims to report human trafficking to authorities. The government did not take measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, which remained high, according to the government and an NGO. Since 2007, the government identified more than 3,000 people without birth certificates, a vulnerability to trafficking. The government visited the interior regularly to assist people in filing the paperwork for appropriate documentation.