U.S. State Department Releases 2010 Human Trafficking Report

By Bryan Schaaf on Monday, June 14, 2010.

The U.S. State Department released its 2010 Annual Report on Human Trafficking today.  Haiti remains a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking.  The most significant trafficking issue concerns restaveks – forced domestic servitude of young children given to (mostly) urban families by parents (mostly) from rural areas with larger families.  An estimated 225,000 children were enslaved as restaveks prior to the 2010 earthquake.  Even more children are vulnerable to exploitation in the earthquake’s aftermath.  Below is the Haiti section of the report, which includes recommendations for the Haitian government and the international community.

 

In the months prior to the January 12, 2010 earthquake, the Government of Haiti had made limited antitrafficking progress; prospects for additional, future progress were greatly impeded by the earthquake, which killed over 230,000 people, displaced 1.3 million people, including at least half a million children, and destroyed much of Port au Prince, including much of the government’s infrastructure. The limited capacity of Haitian state institutions to respond to human trafficking was further weakened by the earthquake’s monumental damage. Haiti remains a Special Case for the fifth consecutive year as the earthquake derailed government efforts to address the significant challenges facing the country, including human trafficking.

 

The Government of Haiti, in partnership with NGOs, identified child trafficking victims, but it did not enact much-needed anti-trafficking legislation. The following background and recommendations are provided to guide government officials and organizations working on anti-trafficking initiatives in Haiti.

 

Haiti is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and forced prostitution. The majority of trafficking cases are found among the estimated 225,000 restaveks —the term for the practice of child slavery in domestic settings—in Haiti and the approximately 3,000 additional Haitian restaveks living in Dominican Republic. The majority of children become restaveks when they move to cities to live with extended families in the hopes of going to school. Restaveks are treated differently from other non-biological children living in households; in addition to involuntary servitude, restaveks are particularly vulnerable to beatings, sexual assaults and other abuses by family members in the homes in which they are residing. Restaveks are often dismissed when they become teenagers. Dismissed and runaway restaveks make up a significant proportion of the large population of street children, who frequently are forced to work in prostitution or street crime by violent criminal gangs.

 

Since the earthquake, local shelters have received a record number of restaveks. Many are also living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. The Haitian National Police and local NGOs reported an increase in alleged cases of forced labor and forced prostitution of children and adults since the earthquake. Women and girls are increasingly vulnerable to the IDP’s self-appointed “security guardians,” who exploit them in exchange for “protection.”

 

The UN has reported on forced prostitution of Dominican women in brothels in Haiti frequented by MINUSTAH Peacekeepers. Some of the Haitians who voluntarily migrate to The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, other Caribbean nations, South America, and the United States subsequently face conditions of forced labor.

 

In a positive step, Haitian officials recognize that human trafficking, including the nonconsensual exploitation of restavek children, is a serious problem in the country; however, the lack of legislation prohibiting all forms of trafficking is a major obstacle to progress. The national police child protection unit, the Brigade for the Protection of Minors, does not pursue forced labor or forced prostitution cases because there is no statutory penalty. There may also be confusion among elements of the Haitian government and some of its international donors between the crimes of human smuggling, human trafficking, and illegal adoption. Legislation criminalizing all forms of human trafficking has been pending in Parliament for several years.

 

The government lacked formal victim identification and assistance policies and resources but the government’s social welfare agency worked well with NGOs to identify and refer victims. Prior to the earthquake, the Ministry of Social Affairs in partnership with an international NGO identified 126 restaveks; after the earthquake NGOs have identified 816 restaveks in 25 major IDP camps in Port-au-Prince. In addition, border officials took commendable steps to identify and assist potential child trafficking victims in the aftermath of the earthquake. Shelter services for adult trafficking victims do not exist.

 

Prevention efforts have been largely NGO driven. There have been reports that after the earthquake, some members of the international aid community have disregarded Haitian government input on strategies to assist trafficking victims and prevent trafficking. For example, influential members of the international aid community are promoting family-based foster care for unaccompanied minors despite Haitian government concerns that this foster care could lead to more children in situations of forced labor – similar to restaveks – because the government lacks the capacity to adequately monitor placements. A divergent definition of trafficking in persons within the NGO community further hindered coordinated anti-trafficking strategies. There have been reports of duplication of anti-trafficking efforts by international organizations unaware of local mechanisms already in place.

 

Recommendations for Haiti:

1) Enact legislation criminalizing forced prostitution and all forms of forced labor, including involuntary domestic servitude, with penalties that reflect the heinous nature of this human rights abuse;

 

2) In partnership with NGOs, adopt and employ formal procedures to guide officials in proactive victim identification and referral of victims to available services;

 

3) Provide in-kind support for victim services;

 

4) Improve access to quality education for all children

 

Recommendations for the international aid community:

1) Increase coordination with the government of Haiti and Haitian NGOs on anti-trafficking responses; promote a definition of trafficking, which includes forced child labor such as that experienced systematically by restaveks;

 

2) Incorporate restavek prevention and protection in reliefa nd broader development efforts, including education initiatives for all children and sensitization for parents regarding the reality of restavek life;

 

3) Build the capacity of Haitian institutions responsible for child protection.

Trafficking of Haitian Children May Spark DR Sanctions

1/17/2011
Miami Herald
BY GERARDO REYES
greyes@ElNuevoHerald.com
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Frustrated by the Dominican Republic's lack of commitment in the fight against trafficking of Haitian children, the United States could impose sanctions against that country, the State Department's head of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons said. ''The problem is that in Dominican Republic we haven't seen cases against anybody,'' said Luis CdeBaca. ''We tell the countries we deal with that it would be good not only to arrest the traffickers, but the officials who serve as accomplices as well. But in Dominican Republic we don't even have the first one, and that's where the frustration is.'' He explained that since he traveled last summer to Santo Domingo to investigate the trafficking situation and the exploitation of children, no major progress has been seen. ''We haven't really seen a big change from the Dominican Republic,'' CdeBaca said. ''If nothing happens and the problem continues ... we could then advise the president as far as sanctions are concerned.''
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The Dominican government could face the suspension of economic and military aid; blocking of some exports to the United States; and opposition in votes at organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, CdeBaca said. The Dominican Republic has until June to implement the State Department's recommendations, according to CdeBaca. The recommendations appear in the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, in which the Dominican Republic was classified at level three, the lowest tier. Together with Cuba, they are the only countries in the Western Hemisphere that are categorized as being the ``source [and] destination of men, women and children subjected to trafficking, especially in forced labor and forced prostitution,'' the report says. ``You have seen [the situation],'' CdeBaca said, referring to a series of stories published by The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald in October and November on the trafficking of Haitian children with the complicity of Dominican authorities.
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The series showed that many of the children are forced to beg on the streets in Dominican cities or become prostitutes in Bocachica, an international tourism resort in the south of the country. Some of the girls have sex with traffickers as a way to pay for the crossing. Responding to CdeBaca's statement, the office of the Dominican Republic's president sent a statement pointing out the efforts made through interdiction and education to prevent trafficking and exploitation of children.
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The statement cites two cases in which the country's authorities arrested traffickers. The most recent operative took place on Jan. 13, when officers of the army's intelligence department intercepted two vehicles transporting 56 undocumented people -- 41 men, 12 women and three children. The officers detained Julio César Peña Regalado and Brito Santiago Fernando, ``well-known traffickers of persons in the area,'' the statement says. ``All cases that have to do with trafficking of persons have been brought to justice, none have had impunity and those persons involved have been punished under laws implemented in Dominican Republic,'' the documents says. Nongovernment organizations operating in the north border area of both countries say that the trafficking of children increased after Haiti's devastating quake last year.
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Hundreds of children have crossed the border illegally, but as of November not a single person had been indicted for trafficking of minors, Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald reporters found. The situation is known to the State Department. ``Corruption is a major part of the problem of modern slavery and trafficking,'' CdeBaca said. He said the Dominican government has not implemented a law it passed seven years ago against trafficking. ``Haiti needs laws and Dominican Republic has them but doesn't use them,'' CdeBaca said. The State Department's report covering the period from April 2009 to April 2010 says that ``the government has not made any discernible progress in persecuting and punishing traffickers during the period analyzed.'' CdeBaca said the government needs to make progress not only in trying the traffickers and their accomplices but also in protecting the victims. The Dominican Republic is his office's biggest worry in the Western Hemisphere, he said.

Inspiration in Haiti: The Spirit of Trafficking Survivors

1/12/2011
By Luis CdeBaca
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About the Author: Ambassador Luis CdeBaca directs the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
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The tremendous outpouring of support for the people of Haiti in the wake of last year's devastating earthquake was an inspiration to everyone. My inspiration is found not only in the generosity of donors and the hard work of anti-trafficking organizations working tirelessly to end modern slavery but also in the spirit of courageous trafficking survivors such as Stephanie, a seven-year-old child of poor rural farmers. When Stephanie was just six, a family friend offered to send her to school in Port-au-Prince. Though her parents initially thought it was a blessing from God, there was no school and her life became a living nightmare, where she was forced to work extremely long hours, doing all the household chores and fetching water from distant distribution points. After her "master" died during the earthquake, Stephanie was homeless and wandered aimlessly from one camp to another, offering to do any type of domestic work in exchange for food. Finally, staff from the International Organization for Migration, funded by my office, found her crying in the street and took her to a shelter run by a partner organization. Within a short time, they were able to find her family, reunite them, send Stephanie to school, and help her mother expand her business. Now 14, Stephanie says of her release from servitude, "I would like this to happen to all the other children as well."
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My office is focused on making this dream become a reality. We are not strangers to the challenges. We recognize that Haiti struggled with centuries of plantation-based slavery. We recognize that Haiti continues to be a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and forced prostitution. We understand that the majority of trafficking cases are found among the 225,000 restavèks, or child slaves found in domestic settings in Haiti. We recognize the particular vulnerabilities of these children to beatings, sexual assaults, and other abuses by family members in the homes where they are residing. Since the earthquake, local shelters report receiving a record number of restavèks. Indeed, the earthquake only compounded an age-old problem by uprooting thousands -- if not millions -- of people, making them vulnerable to human traffickers.
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Yet, history shows the resilience of the Haitian people and local civic leaders know that lasting change will come from culturally-based domestic solutions. This is why my office, the State Department, and others in the U.S. government are committed to partnering with anti-trafficking and local organizations to respond to the emergency, rebuild Haiti, and tackle historical and present-day human trafficking challenges.
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Over the last year, my office funded nearly $1 million in new grants to respond to the heightened risk of trafficking of Haitian children. We supported the International Organization for Migration, working with local NGOs, to restore the lives of child trafficking victims through the provision of nutritional, medical, psychological, and educational assistance; a safe shelter; and reintegration assistance. This reintegration aid consists of tracing the child's biological family, proving financial assistance to improve their livelihood, and reuniting them with their child.
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We have also funded the Restavèk Freedom Foundation which has increased enrollment in its child sponsorship program from 210 to 425 restavèk children since October 2010. These children, who would otherwise be denied access to education, are provided tuition fees, uniforms, and books necessary to attend school and the support to be successful.
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We are funding Heartland Alliance, which works with the government of Haiti's agency for child welfare and protection, to screen children at all four designated border crossings between Haiti and the Dominican Republic -- a process never before conducted at the border. Children identified as suspected victims of trafficking are registered, transferred into the care of the appropriate government agency and, when possible, reunified with their families. With our support, Heartland Alliance has now screened over 14,000 children since February 2010. Of those, nearly 200 have been registered as potential victims of child trafficking and transferred into the custody of the Haitian child welfare agency.
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All these examples represent hope for the future but so much more can be done so today. Later this week I will be announcing an additional award of $4.75 million to ten grantees to strengthen Haitian institutional and civil society capacity to identify and respond to human trafficking. The one year anniversary of a tragedy is a time where we can both find signs of inspiration and redouble our efforts to create a society free from slavery. We are happy to play a small part in the overall effort to help Haiti rebuild, restart, and reinvigorate its efforts to rebel against all forms of slavery.

Probe sought on trafficking of Pinoys to Haiti (12/13/2010)

The Phillipine Star
By Mayen Jaymalin
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Filipino workers are continuously leaving the country and sneaking even into cholera-stricken Haiti in the hope of getting high paying jobs. The Blas Ople Policy Center yesterday sought an investigation into the trafficking of Filipinos to Haiti and to pinpoint certain patterns in recruitment and illegal deployment. Susan Ople, head of the Blas Ople Policy Center, expressed concern over the trafficking of Filipinos to impoverished countries such as Haiti where the victims are left to the care of the small Filipino community there. “Some of these workers were deployed by a second agency, not the original agency that accepted their applications. In some instances, the trafficked victims were received by sub-contractors or labor suppliers masquerading as legitimate foreign employers,” she said. Ople said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration must improve and strengthen its regulatory functions, otherwise it may end up as an enabler or accomplice of human trafficking syndicates.
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She also called on President Aquino to prioritize the passage of the amendments to the Anti-Trafficking Act in order to obtain justice for trafficked victims since it includes specific provisions against forced labor and involuntary servitude. “These amendments are already embodied in a committee report of the Senate, and hearings have also been conducted in the House of Representatives based on a privilege speech delivered by Rep. Manny Pacquiao,” Ople said. While acknowledging that both houses of Congress are about to go on Christmas break, the Blas Ople Center said that the President’s commitment to certify these amendments as urgent would ensure that the full weight of government – involving all three branches – is behind the global fight against human trafficking. The proposed amendments to the anti-trafficking act, as proposed by civil society groups, include the removal of the confidentiality clause on the identity and modus operandi of the accused in trafficking cases, provisions regarding attempted trafficking in persons, and acts of trafficking for involuntary servitude and forced labor. The amendments also address the issue of child trafficking to include the barter, sale and trade of children. Meanwhile, local manpower agencies expressed their support for the Mandatory Insurance Coverage provision of the new Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 2009. Recruiters said they are not against the insurance coverage, but are merely requesting the Insurance Commission to review the insurance premium to make it reasonable and affordable for the recruitment agencies.

Haitian women at increased risk of trafficking (9/25/2010)

IPS
By Emilio Godoy
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The January earthquake that devastated Haiti put women and girls in the poorest country in the hemisphere at an increased risk of falling prey to people trafficking, activists and experts warn. "The phenomenon has become much more visible since the earthquake, with the increase in the forced displacement of persons," said Bridget Wooding, a researcher who specialises in immigration at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. "There is huge vulnerability to a rise in human trafficking and smuggling," she told IPS. The Dominican Republic and the United States are the main destinations for Haitian migrants. The figures vary, but there are between 500,000 and 800,000 Haitians and people of Haitian descent in the U.S. and between one and two million in the Dominican Republic.
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Women in Haiti "are exposed to forced prostitution, rape, abandonment and pornography," Mesadieu Guylande, a Haitian expert with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Latin America and the Caribbean (CATW-LAC), told IPS. The situation in Haiti was one of the issues discussed by representatives of NGOs, experts and academics from throughout the region at the Second Latin American Conference on Human Smuggling and Trafficking, which ran Tuesday through Friday in Puebla, 130 km south of Mexico City. The 7.0-magnitude quake that hit the Haitian capital on Jan. 12 and left a death toll of at least 220,000 forced tens of thousands of people to live in camps.
Apture™
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The United Nations defines human trafficking as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation." Smuggling of persons, again according to the U.N., is limited to "the procurement of the illegal entry of a person into a state party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit."
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In Latin America, an estimated 250,000 victims a year fall prey to trafficking networks, yielding a profit of 1.35 billion dollars for organised crime rings, according to statistics from the Mexican Ministry of Public Security. However, NGOs say the numbers could be higher. Organisations like the CATW-LAC estimate that over five million girls and women have been trapped by these criminal networks in the region, and another 10 million are in danger of falling into their hands. After the earthquake, the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which has been in the country since 2004, beefed up security along the porous border with the Dominican Republic.
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Authorities in the Dominican Republic deported some 20,000 Haitians a year between 2003 and 2008, according to government figures. Since the tragedy, the New York-based Sanctuary for Families, a non-profit organisation dedicated to aiding victims of domestic violence and their children, has taken in some 100 Haitian women. "They came illegally, with forged documents or with expired visas. We offer them shelter, financial assistance or legal advice," Dorchen Leidholdt, director of Sanctuary's Centre for Battered Women's Legal Services, told IPS.
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Thursday was International Day Against the Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children, established in 1999 by the World Conference of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW). "We have evidence of a growth in trafficking and smuggling of persons, which is reflected in the increase in the number of children panhandling in the streets of Santo Domingo, for example," said Wooding, co-author of the 2004 book "Needed but Not Wanted", on Haitian immigration in the Dominican Republic.
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The author was in Port-au-Prince when the quake hit. Even before the disaster, some 500,000 children were not attending school in Haiti, a country of around 9.5 million people, Guylande said. Since 2007, there have been no convictions in the Dominican Republic under Law 137-03 against trafficking and smuggling, passed in 2003, according to the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2009. As a result, the State Department reported that the government of the Dominican Republic "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking" and put the country on its Tier 2 Watch List. In Haiti, things are no different. Although the government ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, in force since Sept. 29, 2003, it has failed to implement its provisions in national laws. "The penal system is fragile and the judiciary is neither independent nor trustworthy, a situation that works in favour of traffickers," Guylande said. The only legal case brought in Haiti was against 10 U.S. missionaries who tried to take 33 children out of the country after the January catastrophe. However, they were acquitted of charges of smuggling children and released from prison.

The battle to combat child trafficking in Haiti (8/17/2010)

AFP
By Alice Speri
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OUANAMINTHE - On market days, Clarine Joanice sits on a plastic chair by the crowded bridge marking the northern border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Every time a child walks by, she gently grabs its arm and asks the accompanying adults for travel papers. Joanice is a child protection officer with the Heartland Alliance, a small US-based rights group helping to track down child traffickers sneaking minors through Haiti's porous border.
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Since January's earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people, the group has stopped 74 children it suspected were being trafficked out of the country. "We stop everyone, public cars, private cars, trucks, children on foot," explained Joanice on a busy Monday morning, as thousands of vendors carrying merchandise crossed the dusty bridge into the Dominican town of Dajabon. Over 100 children cross the border each week, with that number doubling during school vacations. Southern crossings closer to the capital are even more jammed, and controls there are next to non-existent.
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Before January's devastating quake, an estimated 2,000 minors were trafficked into the Dominican Republic annually, according to official figures. Since then, the Haitian police's Minor Protection Brigades (CPM) has stopped 3,000 minors on the border, 750 of whom carried no documents. Despite this and the international outcry that followed an attempt by US missionaries to illegally take 33 children into the Dominican Republic in the chaotic aftermath of the quake, Haiti still lacks the proper legislation to clamp down on the trafficking of minors.
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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNICEF have provided technical assistance to the government in drafting a law, but the proposal remains under revision. "This lack of legal framework seriously hinders our work pursuing traffickers," said CPM commissioner Renel Costume. While immigration officers are stationed at the Ouanaminthe border post and UN troops and police are also on the lookout for illegal activities, almost nobody gets stopped on market days.
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Further south at the Belladere crossing -- some five kilometers (three miles) from the Dominican town of Elias Pina -- there isn't even an immigration office. The rusty gate into the Dominican Republic closes at 6:00 pm, and it is not unusual for people to walk right around it after hours. Under the bridge that separates Ouanaminthe and Dajabon lies "Massacre River," named for the slaughter of Haitians by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in the 1930s and now often the scene of drownings.
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"Sometimes smugglers take children across the river by making them hold onto a cord," Joanice said. "But if something happens or they get scared, they just run away and leave the children there." The Heartland Alliance's border control initiative, which interviews and registers children, parents, and potential traffickers is often the only form of traffic prevention at key border posts. "It's a mess, the border is totally open," Ramsay Ben-Achour, Heartland Alliance's Haiti director told AFP. "It's very easy to traffic children."
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Joanice related a recent experience in which her team stopped a man crossing the bridge with a 10-year-old girl who started to cry and said she didn't know him. "He just told us, let me go sell her, I'll pay you half of it," she recalled. "Fifty-fifty." The Heartland Alliance has no mandate to arrest smugglers but cares for the children in custody until their families have been tracked down.
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That task is often complicated by a lack of documents, although child protection officers interview the children and conduct rigorous investigations registered in databases shared with a network of other NGOs. "Before the earthquake, 40 percent of children had birth certificates. Now there are no statistics, but I would put it at half of that," Ben-Achour said. Alternative identifications methods range from reading body language clues to asking parents to identify birthmarks. Sometimes the process takes hours of phone calls. Other times it's as easy as asking children for their names.
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Marie Sonye Ducoste, a child protection officer in Ouanaminthe, stopped a man with two children, wearing their best clothes and apparently headed to the market. "This is my son, look at him, he has the same ears as his sister," the man told her jokingly, pulling a photo from his wallet showing him with the two children. He has no travel papers but Ducoste lets him go anyway, after lecturing him on the importance of documents. "We don't always know whether it's trafficking or not, but if we have any doubt, if the children look like they don't know the persons accompanying them, we don't let them through," she said.

U.S. Human Trafficking Czar Visits Haiti (6/9/2010)

The Miami Herald
By Jacqueline Charles
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Haiti is still recovering from the January earthquake, but that doesn't mean efforts to protect children and adults from exploitation should stop. That was the message from the U.S. human-trafficking czar, Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, as he visited Haiti on Wednesday in hopes of keeping the spotlight on the need to protect Haitians from trafficking.
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CdeBaca met with Haitian officials from the ministry of social affairs as well as Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. He also visited Foyer Lakay, an all-boys shelter and a safe space for kids run by Save the Children. During a tour of the shelter, CdeBaca said he was ``very impressed'' with the facility and how street kids -- who were once exploited -- are learning vocational skills such as sewing and electrical work. Later, he watched with delight as 3-year-olds sang and danced underneath a tent not far from congested downtown.
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At the entrance of the safe space were pieces of yellow paper illustrating children's rights. CdeBaca said while a lot of attention has been shed on the controversial and accepted practice of child servitude here known as restavek, he wanted to focus the issue of human trafficking, as outlined in the State Department's annual Trafficking in Person's report. ``Child slavery, especially restaveks, is a big problem, but it's not the only problem,'' he said.

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For example, Haitian adults are at times held in servitude for prostitution. Before the Jan. 12 earthquake, Haiti had signed a U.N. protocol to protect persons from trafficking and the country was working on making it illegal. The fight needs to continue, he said. ``The fact that Haiti ratified the U.N. protocol that protects people from all forms of modern slavery was a big step, an encouraging step,'' he said. ``Now the hard work needs to start: rescuing victims and prosecuting abusive bosses.''

US defends human trafficking report (6/20/2010)

Caribbean Net News
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The latest report from the US State Department on human trafficking suggests the sexual exploitation of women continues to be a major problem in the Caribbean. Most regional states were on what the department calls its Tier 2 List, which means they weren't doing enough to combat human trafficking, or to protect the victims. It also said many countries in the region haven't fully complied with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking - which it also defines as forced labour, where people aren't necessarily transported.
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A main theme running throughout the report as it relates to the Caribbean - is the sexual exploitation of women. The study for found that many women were tricked with promises of work, only to be then forced into prostitution. It singled out Barbados, the Bahamas, and the Netherlands Antilles and listed women from Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Guyana, and Haiti as among the main group being forced into the sex trade.
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Many regional countries have challenged the contents of the report. Guyana branded much of the findings as being "sinister" and "inaccurate", the Dominican Republic called it "a lie with no merit", and Cuba said it was "shameful slander". But the State Department says it's standing by the document.
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The Trafficking in Persons report says it has evidence of poor children and young women being forced by their parents or carers to perform sexual favours for wealthier people in return for money. This so-called "sugar daddy effect" was especially noted in Belize and is also said to be a problem in Barbados. The report adds that women were also victims of sexual exploitation in Jamaica's "garrison" communities and it made a worrying link between the sex trade and the island's tourism industry. According to the State Department, it's believed that more than 1800 children who went missing in Jamaica in 2009 were trafficked.
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The report said the Caribbean must do more to combat the trafficking of women who are forced to work as domestic servants often under appalling conditions. It added that men in some countries are also victims of trafficking and exploitation - singling out Haitian and Guyanese males being forced to work for 'next to nothing' in the construction and other sectors in the Bahamas and Barbados. Calling Haiti a special case, the report said most of the victims of human trafficking and other forms of exploitation come from that country due mainly to poor legislative controls, and a shattered economy made worse by January's devastating earthquake.

Human Rights Council discusses human rights situation in Haiti

6/16/2010
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The Human Rights Council this afternoon discussed the situation of human rights in Haiti, hearing from the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery on behalf of Special Procedure Mandate Holders. The Council also held an interactive dialogue on Haiti, followed by a general debate on its agenda item on technical assistance and capacity building.
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Kyung-Wha Kang, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the protection and promotion of human rights was above all a State's responsibility, but it was also increasingly a cooperative global effort in the face of today's daunting challenges such as poverty, impunity, democratic deficits, exclusion, violence and discrimination. Weak State institutions were one of the challenges Haiti faced well before the earthquake struck; the State was further weakened by the heavy losses, both in terms of personnel and infrastructure, as a result of the earthquake. The reconstruction efforts in Haiti must be based on the respect and promotion of all human rights.
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The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, Michael Forst, said Haiti was living through a crisis without precedent, in a country already hit by extreme poverty and a State that was still fragile, both of which had amplified the disaster caused by the earthquake. Mr. Forst said the scale of needs, the confusion that reigned in camps between displaced persons and persons living in extreme poverty, and the delays in the identification of terrains and the difficulties related to property rights, had only led to further delays in the installation of displaced persons in shelters or permanent structures.
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The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, Gulanara Shahinian, speaking on behalf of the Special Procedure mandate holders, said that beyond grappling with the direct effect of this disaster, many Haitians continued to face human rights violations and abuses that were rooted in the long-standing lack of capacity, commitment and awareness. More than half a million people had been displaced to other parts of the country and they, and the families hosting them, were often forgotten and needed more support. Ms. Shahinian expressed concern about violence against women, in particular rape and domestic violence, which were on the rise in camps for internally displaced persons and elsewhere.
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Speaking as a concerned country, Haiti said that the priority of the Government in the coming months was to re-establish the justice system and public security throughout the territory. This included guaranteeing access to justice and security for the affected communities, creating favourable conditions to ensure the administration of justice and public safety and thus the framework for reconstruction, and the consolidation of the rule of law by increasing the numbers of the national police and having better qualified national police.
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In the interactive dialogue, speakers stressed the importance of protecting particularly vulnerable groups, including women, children, the elderly and the disabled. Many delegations also noted the need to increase the participation of women in reconstruction efforts in the country as they were traditionally important drivers of the economy in Haiti, but thus far had been excluded from discussions surrounding rebuilding. Speakers pointed out that the earthquake highlighted the structural weaknesses of national institutions in Haiti that were there before the natural disaster, and the Haitian Government, along with the international community, should take this as an opportunity to address those issues including reform of the judiciary, combating corruption, strengthening the rule of law and good governance and re-establishing a professional and well-trained national police force.
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Speaking in the interactive dialogue were France, Brazil, the United States, Costa Rica, the European Union, Peru, Canada, Mexico, Senegal, Cuba, Argentina, Japan, Australia, Algeria, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Norway, Switzerland, Venezuela, Sweden, the Russian Federation, Chile and China.
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The following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Comité International de Coordination des Institutions Nationales des Droits de l'Homme, Human Rights Watch, Instituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco, Save the Children, the European Disability Forum, the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues and Interfaith International.
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