Forced Labor of Children

Mirador

On Permanent Vacation!
Apr 15, 2004
3,563
0
0
In today's CLAVEDIGITAL there's an article that quotes from a US State Department Report which accuses the DR government as an accomplice in the forced labor of both Haitian and Dominican children, adding that the DR government does nothing to help the victims or take firm actions against government officers accessory to this practice.

I could not believe it! so I opened the US State Department with the Trafficking in Persons Report country classification, and we are classified near the bottom, as a "Tier 2 - Watch list". But more surprisingly, is the fact that Haiti is nowhere mentioned in the list. Does this means that Haiti is not being considered as a nation, and that finally the US is lumping Haiti together with the DR as one country?.

M?s claro no canta un gallo!
 

Chirimoya

Well-known member
Dec 9, 2002
17,850
976
113
Is this intended as a debate about unification or the rights and wrongs of child labour?
 

Mirador

On Permanent Vacation!
Apr 15, 2004
3,563
0
0
Is this intended as a debate about unification or the rights and wrongs of child labour?

No debate, it just struck me the purposeful omission of Haiti from the list, and the purposeful inclusion of Haitian child labour with Dominican child labour, as if Hispaniola is one unified nation, an agenda now openly promoted by the U.S., Canada, France together with other countries, through the U.N....
 

El_Uruguayo

Bronze
Dec 7, 2006
880
36
28
As for the countries listed by "tiers" there is little consistancy in it, countries are rated by initiatives put in paper to prevent trafficking, not actual levels of trafficking or things that are actually being done to prevent trafficking. If you take a look at the "tier 3" countries you'll notice that a few are from the "axis of evil" or not exactly friends with the US (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela) - except some arab countries which are notorious for their use of imported child camel jockies.

Compare these 3:

COLOMBIA (Tier 1)

Colombia is one of the Western Hemisphere's major source countries for women and girls trafficked abroad for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Colombian women and girls are trafficked throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, East Asia, the Middle East, and the United States. Within the country, some Colombian men are trafficked for forced labor, but trafficking of women and children from rural to urban areas for sexual exploitation remains a larger problem. Internal armed violence in Colombia has displaced many communities, making them vulnerable to trafficking, and insurgent and paramilitary groups have forcibly recruited and exploited thousands of children as soldiers. Organized criminal networks - some connected to terrorist organizations - and local gangs also force displaced men, women, and children into conditions of commercial sexual exploitation and compulsory labor.

The Government of Colombia fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government intensified law enforcement actions against traffickers during the reporting period, and sustained solid prevention and protection efforts. In the coming year, the government should continue to work with civil society to raise public awareness and improve protection services for victims.

Prosecution
The Government of Colombia made strong progress in identifying and prosecuting criminal acts of trafficking during the reporting period. Colombian law prohibits all forms of human trafficking through a comprehensive anti-trafficking statute, Law 985, which was enacted in 2005 and prescribes penalties of up to 23 years' imprisonment - penalties sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other grave crimes. In 2006, authorities opened 49 investigations against traffickers. The government also initiated 75 trafficking prosecutions, which represents more than a doubling of cases since 2005. The government also achieved 10 convictions against traffickers in 2006, a five-fold increase since 2005. Eight of these convictions were against a large band of traffickers in Pereira. Six women and two men were sentenced to 48 months' imprisonment for their roles in trafficking persons to Panama, Japan, and Spain. The remaining two convictions came from a case in the city of Armenia, in which the defendants were each sentenced to six and a half years' imprisonment. The government worked with international organizations to increase training for judges and prosecutors, and cooperated with foreign governments in Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, Italy, and Spain on international trafficking cases. The government is currently investigating one U.S. citizen in connection with child pornography. There were no reports of public officials' complicity in trafficking.

Protection
The government sustained its efforts to address victims' needs during the reporting period. The Colombian government provides limited funding to NGOs to provide shelter and other services to trafficking victims, and it relied on NGOs and international organizations to provide the bulk of victim assistance. The government provides specialized training to consular officials to help them recognize potential trafficking victims, and Colombian missions abroad assist Colombian victims. Police investigators have set up special interview facilities in Bogota's international airport to debrief returning victims and investigate their cases. The government also has approved plans to open an anti-trafficking operations center in the coming year. It will serve as a central repository of anti-trafficking information for victims, and will include a national call center. The government operates a witness-protection program for trafficking victims participating in court proceedings. Colombian authorities encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. There were no reports of victims being jailed or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. Because Colombia is not a significant destination country for trafficking, there is no demand for temporary residency status for foreign victims.

Prevention
The government made modest progress during the reporting year in raising public awareness, but continued to rely heavily on NGOs and international organizations to conduct trafficking-prevention campaigns. The government completed its national action plan on trafficking in persons; implementation of the plan is pending. The government worked closely with IOM to develop a national hotline to report trafficking crimes. The government also worked with NGOs to distribute a comprehensive guide to victim assistance and other awareness-raising materials such as posters, radio, and television spots. The government sponsors assistance programs targeted to populations vulnerable to trafficking, such as micro-lending for women and anti-child labor programs.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Tier 2 Watch List)

The Dominican Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Dominican women and children are trafficked for sexual exploitation to Western Europe, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, Panama, and Suriname. A significant number of women and children also are trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Some Dominican-born children are trafficked into forced labor and organized begging rings. Some Haitians, including children, are trafficked to the Dominican Republic for forced labor in agriculture and construction sectors; many live in squalid shantytowns known as "bateyes." Venezuelans and Colombians also are reportedly trafficked to the country for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Some Chinese nationals have been smuggled to the Dominican Republic, allegedly with the assistance of high-level Dominican consular and immigration officials, and subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude while waiting to make their way to the United States.

The Government of the Dominican Republic does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The Dominican Republic is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, particularly in terms of providing increased assistance to victims and undertaking vigorous actions to counter official complicity with trafficking activity. Although the Office of the Public Prosecutor made strong efforts to prosecute trafficking offenders last year, the government should increase anti-trafficking law enforcement personnel and capacity, and step up efforts to root out aggressively any official complicity with human trafficking, especially among senior-level officials. The Dominican Republic should provide greater legal protections for trafficking victims, and increase anti-trafficking prevention efforts and resources for agencies and organizations providing shelters and social services. More attention should be directed to identifying and assisting Haitian trafficking victims.

Prosecution
The Government of the Dominican Republic made efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes during the reporting period. The Dominican Republic prohibits all forms of trafficking through its comprehensive anti-trafficking law, Law 137-03, which prescribes penalties of up to 20 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave offenses. The government initiated 120 trafficking and alien-smuggling prosecutions under the law last year, obtaining three trafficking-specific convictions; defendants received sentences ranging from 15 to 20 years' imprisonment. While the government's efforts to convict traffickers remained level with last year, more than 30 prosecutions during the reporting period arose from arrests of military and other public officials for involvement with trafficking; of this number, three officials have been convicted. While this represents important progress in an extremely difficult area, the Dominican Republic should do much more to tackle the critical issue of official complicity with human trafficking at all levels of government. Press reports allege that high-level consular and immigration officials were directly involved with the smuggling of Chinese nationals, some of them trafficking victims, to the Dominican Republic. Any individuals found to be implicated in alien smuggling or trafficking should be brought to justice. The Director of the Office of the Public Prosecutor's Anti-Trafficking Unit had made some progress in addressing these and other areas; however, he remained suspended from his duties at the end of the reporting period for unspecified reasons.

Protection
The government's efforts to protect victims of trafficking remained inadequate, as it continued to rely heavily on NGOs and international organizations to provide the bulk of protection services. While the government maintains shelters and programs for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, these services are not generally accessible to trafficking victims. The government has not developed formal procedures for identifying victims among vulnerable populations, such as undocumented migrants or persons detained for prostitution offenses. The government continued, however, to train officials posted abroad on recognizing and assisting trafficking victims overseas. Victims' rights are generally respected, and there were no reports of victims being jailed or penalized for crimes committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. However, there were reports that some officials conspired with employers to repatriate trafficked persons of Haitian descent if they attempted to leave exploitative work environments, forcing them to leave behind their pay and belongings. Dominican authorities generally encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, though undocumented persons of Haitian descent were often neglected. The government does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution. The government should assure protection to Haitians and undocumented persons of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic, many of whom fall victim to human trafficking.

Prevention
The government carried out limited prevention efforts by conducting anti-trafficking seminars at schools across the country, reaching more than 5,000 students. The government relies on NGOs and international organizations for all other prevention activities.

continued...
 

El_Uruguayo

Bronze
Dec 7, 2006
880
36
28
VENEZUELA (Tier 3)

Venezuela is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and children from Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and People's Republic of China are trafficked to and through Venezuela and subjected to commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. Venezuelans are trafficked internally and to Western Europe, particularly Spain and the Netherlands, and to countries in the region such as Mexico, Aruba, and the Dominican Republic, for commercial sexual exploitation. Venezuela is a transit country for undocumented migrants from other countries in the region, particularly Peru and Colombia, and for Asian nationals; some may be trafficking victims.

The Government of Venezuela does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Nonetheless, the government made efforts to train public officials and undertake initiatives to raise public awareness during the reporting period. The government should amend its laws to prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, consistent with international standards, and show a credible effort to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and to convict and sentence trafficking offenders.

Prosecution
The Government of Venezuela made no discernable anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last year. Venezuela does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, though various provisions of its legal code criminalize some forms of sex and labor trafficking. Article 16 of the Organic Law Against Organized Crime, passed in 2005, prohibits human trafficking across international borders and prescribes penalties ranging from 10 to 18 years' imprisonment. Provisions of Venezuela's 2004 Naturalization and Immigration Law criminalize transnational trafficking for labor exploitation, for which prescribed punishment is 4 to 10 years' imprisonment. However, these laws do not address trafficking of adults within the country. The Child Protection Act and various articles of the penal code can be used to prosecute internal trafficking of minors, but many of these statutes carry low penalties. Despite existing prosecutorial tools for punishing many forms of trafficking, the Venezuelan government has not reported any trafficking prosecutions or convictions during the reporting period. The government operates a national hotline through which it receives trafficking complaints, though it is not known how many were received during the last year. The government also provided anti-trafficking training to public officials. There were no confirmed reports of government complicity with human trafficking in 2006.

Protection
The Venezuelan government's efforts to assist trafficking victims remained inadequate during the reporting period. The government does not operate shelters dedicated specifically for trafficking victims, and there are no witness protection or restitution programs. Moreover, the government showed no evidence of implementing procedures for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as persons detained for prostitution or immigration violations. The lack of witness protection provisions in Venezuelan law discourages victims from filing charges or assisting in the investigation of their traffickers. The government provides some legal protection from foreign victims' removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. In cases where safe repatriation is not possible, the government refers victims to the UNHCR or the Red Cross for third country placement.

Prevention
The government sustained efforts to raise public awareness about the dangers of human trafficking. In August 2006, the government launched a community-awareness campaign to encourage trafficking victims to press charges against traffickers, and to utilize victim services provided by the government. The government also provided modest support to anti-trafficking activities by NGOs and created an ad-hoc working group to draft a national plan of action to combat trafficking in persons.



***

I'd add cuba, but I'll give you the coles notes, they are rated 3rd tier, the US govt. doesn't really have any reports on what goes on there, but they imagine the situation is terrible!



****

As for hait they are listed as a special case:

HAITI

Haiti has been in transition since widespread violence and political instability led to the resignation of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Since release of the 2006 Report, the country has undergone three rounds of national and local elections: presidential and parliamentary elections took place in spring 2006, and follow-up parliamentary and municipal elections were completed in December 2006. During the reporting period, Haiti struggled to establish a newly elected government and control rampant violence and crime in its capital, Port-au-Prince. Haiti remains the least developed nation in the Western Hemisphere, and is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an average per capita income of less than $500 per year, and an unemployment rate of nearly 40 percent. The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti currently has more than 6,500 troops and 1,600 UN police on the ground to reduce gang violence and kidnappings. Due to the absence of government institutions and a well-trained and equipped national police force, Haiti has been inhibited from addressing its significant human-trafficking challenges. Haiti remains a special case for a second consecutive year in recognition of its transitional status: Its government must be in place and secure before trafficking can be meaningfully addressed. However, the U.S. government anticipates that trafficking in Haiti can be assessed in next year's Report. The following background and recommendations are provided to help guide officials of the new government.

Scope and Magnitude. Haiti is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. The majority of trafficking in Haiti stems from poor rural families giving custody of their children to more affluent families, in the hope that they will receive an education and economic opportunities. The practice of trafficking such children, who are called restaveks, is widespread and often involves sexual exploitation, physical abuse, and youths being subjected to involuntary domestic servitude, a severe form of trafficking in persons. Some of these children are sent to the Dominican Republic, where they live in miserable conditions. Haitian children are also recruited or coerced into joining violent criminal gangs as fighters or thieves. Dominican women and girls are trafficked into Haiti for commercial sexual exploitation. There are reports that Dominican women are trafficked into Haitian brothels serving UN peacekeepers. Haitians also are trafficked to the Dominican Republic where they are exploited for labor on sugarcane plantations and in agriculture.

Areas for Attention for the New Government of Haiti. Haitian officials recognize that human trafficking is a serious problem in the country. The government should make every effort to pass comprehensive legislation to define and criminalize all forms of trafficking, in addition to strengthening the capacity of the Haitian National Police and the Minors Protection Brigade to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases. The government should continue to work with NGOs and social-welfare agencies to improve their ability to identify, refer, and provide services to restaveks and other Haitian children exploited as domestic servants. The government also should provide anti-trafficking training for judges, police, and prosecutors. Working with the Dominican Republic to improve security and aid trafficking victims along the border is an additional goal. Haiti has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Report.
 

lexi

Bronze
Jan 23, 2007
601
18
18
It makes you feel sick thinking about it. My heart goes out to all of the women and children who are being victimized. It's just awful.
 

OceansAura1

New member
Jun 14, 2007
5
0
0
I have visited the Dominican and fell in love with the country and its people. I will be a yearly visitor to the Punta Cana/Bavaro area, and had some Questions. My main idea is to somehow contribute locally. I was thinking about starting a business in that area but haven't the foggiest how to start, or what to start with. I thought about maybe opening a small resturant, or internet/video game cafe, or something in between so that I can finance a community type assistance for local people to teach children English, or anything I can help with (I'm a mother of 5).
1. Are there elementary school for children in that area?
2. If so, are they the same as in the US?
3. What are the greatest needs in the area?
4. Are there already local charities in that area that i could assist, or would it be worth it to start my own?

I guess these are the starter questions.... Thanks for helping
 

El_Uruguayo

Bronze
Dec 7, 2006
880
36
28
There is the smiles foundation in Higuey which is quite close to Bavaro. They have education programs and run a dental clinic(kids are treated practically free), they are hoping to open up a computer school - maybe you could help them.

INTRO_4
 

Chirimoya

Well-known member
Dec 9, 2002
17,850
976
113
Hi OceansAura1, welcome to DR1. Hopefully your query will get its own thread.

There are schools in the Punta Cana area - the bilingual school in Punta Cana Village (click on "educational center") and the new Heritage school at Cap Cana, as well as the local state schools.

You might also like to contact the PUNTACANA Foundation about volunteer work in the area: they fund the local health clinic, the Politecnico (high school) as well as environmental conservation and research. They would have a clearer picture about local priority needs.

Several of the other hotels and resorts in the area also run community assistance programmes.

Hope you find this helpful. Another thing - the country is called "the Dominican Republic" or "the DR" for short. "The Dominican" has the same effect as nails scratching across a chalkboard for most of us here. :)
 

Alyonka

Silver
Jun 3, 2006
2,757
154
0
I have a question related to volunteer work - how much Spanish does one need to know to do it? Mine is currently "beginner". I understand Dominicans on the basic level but no more than that. Would this be sufficient? I noticed a lot of them speak a little bit of English but really want to learn more and develop their skills. Someone like me could definitely help with that because I had to learn English myself and have taught kids foreign languages in the past.
 
Last edited:

OceansAura1

New member
Jun 14, 2007
5
0
0
Chirimoya, Thank you for the link and info. It is most helpful. If there are any others in the Punta Cana area, or have additional info about the area, please post!
 

Chichiguita

New member
Dec 30, 2004
156
0
0
I say go for it!!!

I have done a variety of volunteer work in the DR. I started out doing construction. I didn?t need much Spanish at all (which is good, because I didn?t have any). Next I spent the summer teaching English to shoe-shine boys. I was very hesitant at the beginning because I had no Spanish and had been bashful to even try to communicate without an interpreter during my first trip (on the work team). I contacted my library which offered ?English as a second language? courses and spoke to a couple of instructors and found that while some had a rudimentary understanding of Spanish, most did not know the languages of theirs students. They had students from all over the world speaking all varieties of languages. They communicated with pictures, signs and games. I took that as my guide and planned lessons accordingly. It worked well.

At times it was a little tough to get the boys under control at first?but I can be pretty hard nosed and incorporated ?the look? which seems universal and we soon came to an understanding. It was challenging on many levels, but a great experience and I learned a lot of Spanish that way!

I?ve returned several times a year since then to work on short term projects in construction, social work/women?s issues, and some artistic endeavors and even though I learn more every time. I continue to work at my Spanish while here in the states (although I am not as consistent as I would hope), but I haven?t found it a hindrance to helping out where there is a need. Go for it!!!!
 

Alyonka

Silver
Jun 3, 2006
2,757
154
0
Chichiguita, thanks for your reply! It is great what you have done already. I will definitely try doing something like that on my next trips. I did not have enough confidence in my Spanish skills to do it before but as I can see from what you said - it is not that important :)
 

OceansAura1

New member
Jun 14, 2007
5
0
0
Chichi, What area did you help out with social/womans issues? How did you help? On your own, or through an established agency?
Have any of you ever brought stuff to donate? Does the local government mind foreigners helping in this way? Are there regulations re: nonprofits there?