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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

VII. Special Cases


Trafficking in Persons Report
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
June 5, 2006
Report
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THE BAHAMAS

The problem of trafficking in persons in The Bahamas is unmonitored and undocumented. The lack of reliable data at the present time makes it unclear whether a significant number of trafficking victims enter, transit, or depart from The Bahamas. Little government attention to the issue and the presence of large numbers of illegal migrants in the country raise concerns that there may be a significant number of trafficking victims in need of assistance.

Scope and Magnitude. The Bahamas may be a country of destination for men and women trafficked from other countries for the purpose of labor exploitation. Approximately 25 percent of the country's population consists of Haitian nationals, most of them in the country illegally. Haitian nationals are commonly employed as domestic workers, gardeners, construction workers, and agricultural laborers. According to the Grand Bahama Human Rights Committee, approximately 40,000-75,000 Haitians reside in The Bahamas. Of this number, only approximately 5,000 Haitians are registered migrant workers with 13,000 dependent family members. Undocumented Haitians continue to arrive in the country and could number as many as 50,000. Some local sources have stated that labor exploitation of Haitians may be widespread, with employers coercing undocumented migrants to work long hours for no pay or significantly below the minimum wage by withholding documents and threatening workers with arrest and deportation. Such workers could be subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude, a severe form of trafficking in persons. Some commercial sexual exploitation of minors has been identified in the country.

Government Efforts. The government has formed a Trafficking in Persons Commission and participates in public fora on trafficking issues, but does not recognize trafficking in persons as a serious problem in the country and has not made significant efforts to investigate trafficking of adults. The difference between alien smuggling and trafficking in persons is not widely appreciated in The Bahamas, including among government officials. While The Bahamas has a well-developed labor law, it contains no specific provisions addressing trafficking in persons and Bahamian law does not criminalize forced labor practices. Bahamian government officials recommend that any adult victims needing assistance contact the Department of Immigration. It is unlikely that illegal migrants, in the absence of any legal protections for adult victims, would report their exploitation to the same officials who are responsible for taking action against illegal migration.

On the other hand, the government has taken significant steps to protect children and raise public awareness to prevent abuse of children in child labor and commercial sexual exploitation. It has conducted multiple outreach campaigns, established a hotline for reporting child abuse, and improved efforts to enforce child labor prohibitions of the Employment Act of 2001. The government has also established a special police unit for missing and exploited children, developed a protocol for dealing with suspected child exploitation, and created a child abuse team to intervene in suspected exploitation or abuse cases.

BRUNEI

Brunei is not listed in the Report this year because information available is not of sufficient quantity or reliability to determine that there is a significant number of victims in the country. Nevertheless, there are indications that Brunei may have a trafficking problem.

Scope and Magnitude. Brunei is a destination for an unknown number of men trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Suspected trafficking likely occurs in the labor context, as foreign workers are recruited from Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh to work in domestic service and the construction and garment industries, but occasionally face exploitative conditions that may meet the definition of involuntary servitude—a severe form of trafficking.

Government Efforts. Brunei has specific anti-trafficking legislation that imposes severe penalties for traffickers and those abetting trafficking. Penalties under the 2004 Trafficking and Smuggling Persons Order carry sentences of up to 30 years' imprisonment. Brunei also has legislation designed to curb exploitation of foreign labor. Penalties for labor trafficking are weaker than penalties for trafficking for sexual exploitation, with sentences of up to three years' imprisonment. There were no prosecutions for trafficking for labor or sexual exploitation during the reporting period. Although abusive employers may face criminal and civil penalties, government mediation is most commonly used to resolve labor disputes, including those involving severe forms of trafficking. In 2005, the Government of Brunei brought charges against a major employer for failing to pay wages to foreign workers and mediated efforts to seek redress for the workers.

Brunei has limited capacity to protect foreign trafficking victims. There are no foreign NGOs in Brunei to assist trafficking victims, and victims are subject to prosecution for violations of immigration and labor codes. The Government of Brunei will provide medical aid, shelter, and financial help to Bruneian nationals who are trafficking victims. However, there is no formal system of protection or benefits for foreign trafficking victims. In cases where the government considers a victim to be a material witness in the prosecution of traffickers, the police will provide temporary protection and shelter as necessary for prosecution. There are some protective measures for foreign workers, but they are not uniformly applied. Some foreign embassies provide protection services, including temporary shelter, for workers involved in labor disputes.

The Government of Brunei has not conducted public awareness programs on trafficking although it did conduct briefings for law enforcement officials on its anti-trafficking legislation. The government should increase measures to punish foreign traffickers within its borders and to implement uniform policies in prevention, protection, and prosecution.

HAITI

Haiti has been in transition since widespread violence and political instability led to the resignation of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004. An interim government, the Interim Government of Haiti (IGOH), was established in March 2004 with a mandate to organize presidential and legislative elections. Throughout the period, the IGOH struggled to address rampant crime and insecurity, and general political instability; elections, originally scheduled to take place in November 2005, were postponed until February 2006. The IGOH was inhibited from addressing the country's trafficking challenges by a significant lack of resources, the absence of an effective, well-trained or equipped national police force, and an almost completely dysfunctional judiciary system. Additionally, Haiti lacked a parliament and basic local government structures to enact and effectuate legislation, including anti-trafficking laws. Haiti is being placed among special cases for 2006 in recognition of its transitional status and the fact that an effective government must be put in place before Haiti can address its trafficking challenges. 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 sexual exploitation and forced labor. The majority of trafficking in Haiti involves poor mothers giving custody of their children to more affluent families in the hope that they will receive an education and economic opportunities. The practice, known as "restavek," is widespread and often involves sexual exploitation, physical abuse, and youths being subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude, a severe form of trafficking in persons. Haitian officials estimate between 90,000 to 120,000 children are "restaveks," while UNICEF and other international organizations estimate the numbers are significantly higher. There is also cross border human trafficking between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Women and girls are trafficked into Haiti for sexual exploitation; Haitians are trafficked to the Dominican Republic for forced labor. International organizations estimate that up to 3,000 Haitian children are trafficked to the Dominican Republic each year. Haiti is also source and transit country of illegal migration.

Areas for Improvement. Once in place, the new Haitian Government should work to strengthen the capacity of the Haitian National Police (HNP) and the Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM) to investigate and prosecute all crimes, including trafficking cases. The government should invest in its social welfare agencies (IBESR) to improve their ability to identify, refer, and provide services to children working as "restaveks." Additionally, the government should make strong efforts to improve its judiciary to allow for the effective prosecution and adjudication of trafficking cases; promote and support civil society organizations concerned with trafficking issues; and work with the Dominican Republic to improve security and aid potential trafficking victims along the border. Finally, Haiti should enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that defines and penalizes the crime of trafficking in persons.

IRAQ

During the reporting period, because Iraq remained in a state of political transition and was challenged by terrorism and an insurgency, it is not ranked in this Report. Following elections for a transitional government in January 2005, Iraqis held two successful electoral events: the October 2005 constitutional referendum and the December 2005 parliamentary election. These events set the stage for the formation of a new government under a permanent constitution in 2006.

Scope and Magnitude. Iraq may be a source country for women and children trafficked to Syria, Yemen, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Turkey, and Iran for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Some Iraqi girls are also believed to be trafficked internally from rural areas to cities such as Kirkuk, Erbil, and Mosul for sexual exploitation. Iraq may also be a destination country for men trafficked from South and Southeast Asia for involuntary servitude. These workers are sometimes offered fraudulent jobs in safe environments in Kuwait or Jordan. Some of these workers were reportedly coerced into involuntary servitude in Iraq, while others go to Iraq voluntarily but are still sometimes subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude after arrival. Although the governments of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Philippines have official bans prohibiting their nationals from working in Iraq, workers from these countries are reportedly coerced into positions in Iraq with threats of abandonment in Kuwait or Jordan, starvation, or force. Because of the special circumstances in Iraq, it is difficult to appropriately gauge the human trafficking situation in the country.

Government Efforts. The ongoing insurgency and terrorism severely handicapped the government's abilities to combat trafficking. The Iraqi Interim and Transitional Governments did not take action to prosecute or prevent trafficking or to protect victims. Anti-trafficking training originally comprised a section of the Basic Police Course, but it was later replaced with anti-insurgency instruction and has not yet been restored or otherwise incorporated into the training curriculum for new security officers. Iraqi police officers, however, received training in basic investigation skills and took some measures to investigate crimes against women.

Areas for Improvement. Once the Iraqi government is formed, Iraq should conduct anti-trafficking training programs for new police officers, prosecutors, and judges; prosecute trafficking cases; improve victim screening and services; and institute a public awareness campaign to warn at-risk populations of the dangers of trafficking. Iraq was neither able to report any prosecutions or convictions of trafficking offenses, nor provide evidence of investigations into this crime. The government, once formed, should also ensure that its police force, prosecutors, and judges are trained in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting trafficking cases. The government should also take measures to combat official corruption that reportedly facilitates trafficking of Iraqi women and should monitor recruitment agencies and contractors importing foreign workers to ensure that no workers are being forced to work in Iraq involuntarily.

LESOTHO

The existence of a significant trafficking in persons problem in Lesotho is suspected but unsubstantiated; there are concerns among organizations working with women and children that trafficking is unreported and unnoticed. Government officials lack awareness of what constitutes trafficking in persons, but have publicly acknowledged that it may be a problem in Lesotho. To combat trafficking, the government should consider drafting and enacting appropriate laws to prohibit all forms of human trafficking, as well as launching a public awareness campaign to educate all Basotho, but particularly women, children, and traditional leaders, on the nature and dangers of trafficking in persons.

Scope and Magnitude. Anecdotal but uncorroborated reports indicate that Lesotho may be a source and transit country for small numbers of men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Trafficking within Lesotho does not appear to be organized by rings or criminal syndicates, and some anecdotal information suggests trafficking may be practiced with the consent of the family, especially in the case of children. Basotho boys may be internally trafficked for use in cattle herding and street vending, while girls may be trafficked for cattle herding, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual exploitation. A 2005 UNICEF report refers to "madams" running child brothels in exchange for provision of food and shelter. After migrating to neighboring South Africa in search of work, some vulnerable Basotho women and girls may become victims of trafficking used for domestic labor or commercial sexual exploitation. There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest that Asian trafficking victims may transit through Lesotho on their way to South Africa, Europe, or the Americas.

Government Efforts. The absence of a law criminalizing trafficking limits the government's ability to address the problem. The government, however, is considering passage of the Child Protection and Welfare Bill that includes a statute prohibiting trafficking of persons under the age of 18. The traditional chieftain structure that has historically governed the country has not adapted well to handling modern offenses, such as trafficking in persons; the country's first local government elections, held in April 2005, are too recent to have developed a local structure capable of addressing complex trafficking issues. However, in August 2005, three men were sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for kidnapping an eight-year-old girl, keeping her in slave-like conditions, and sexually abusing her for over a year. Police and immigration authorities screen for potential smuggling, kidnapping, or fraudulent documentation, but have had no training that would allow for the screening of trafficking victims. Government officials are generally unaware of how to recognize victims of trafficking and, as such, do not provide specific assistance to them. Victims of abduction or kidnapping are provided with access to medical services and counseling, as well as transportation to home areas within the borders of Lesotho. The Ministry of Home Affairs and the police's Child and Gender Protection Unit (CGPU) cooperated with the local UNICEF office to address crimes against women and children, including the prostitution of children. The CPGU received training from UNICEF in interview methods suitable for traumatized women and children and submitted regular reports on its work with these crime victims. The government's incremental implementation of tuition-free primary level education (through grade six in 2005) is expanding school enrollment and attendance; this, in turn, reduces the opportunities for child trafficking.

LIBERIA

Liberia is designated a Special Case because it was in political transition during the reporting period. The National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), which lacked funding and trained personnel to adequately address trafficking, remained in office for 10 months of the reporting period. In January 2006, after more than two years of transitional rule and heavy UN oversight, a newly elected government began the process of rebuilding a country devastated by 14 years of civil conflict.

Scope and Magnitude. Liberia is a source, transit, and destination country for children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Most trafficking occurs within the country, though some children are trafficked to Liberia from Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Cote d'Ivoire and from Liberia to Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, The Gambia, and Nigeria. Children are trafficked for domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, agricultural labor, and street vending. There are reports that Liberian children are also trafficked to Cote d'Ivoire for use in combat. There are reports as well of some orphanages obtaining children through abduction or fraudulent means and exploiting those children in the commercial sex trade or for hawking in the street.

Government Efforts. Some members of the NTGL were closely allied with rebel groups involved in trafficking in persons during the war. Since it took office in 2003, the NTGL not only lacked resources, but also demonstrated insufficient will to combat trafficking. Nevertheless, in June 2005, the government passed a statute prohibiting all forms of trafficking. That law, however, provides a weak, one-year minimum sentence, gravely insufficient to deter trafficking crimes and reflect their heinous nature. After passage of the bill, the NTGL and the National Transitional Legislative Assembly participated in bi-monthly ad hoc anti-trafficking task force meetings chaired by an official at the Ministry of Labor. The NTGL also closed down a number of orphanages allegedly involved in child trafficking, though most of these cases appear to be fraudulent adoptions rather than trafficking. In addition, the NTGL established a Women's and Children's Protection Section of the police, designated to address trafficking. The government is currently investigating two trafficking cases and prosecuting one. A suspected trafficker was also prosecuted in 2005 under a kidnapping law, but was acquitted. There were no reported convictions during the reporting period. Fifteen police officers participated in child protection training provided by UNICEF. An additional 15 officers are taking part in a UN sponsored anti-trafficking training of trainers, but increased training of government officials is needed. A prosecutor lacking knowledge of the new trafficking law pursued a trafficker under a "crime facilitation" law. Although the government does not operate its own victim shelters, it is constructing a small short-term shelter in a police station. In addition, the Women's and Children's Protection Section signed an MOU with UNICEF to assist in protecting victims at a local NGO shelter.

Areas for Improvement. Liberia's post-conflict era is marked with significant challenges. As Liberia rebuilds, strengthening its democracy, national security and judicial system, the government should integrate into each of these large objectives strategies for combating trafficking in persons. In particular, the government should increase its penalties for trafficking, improve efforts to enforce its trafficking law, strengthen efforts to protect victims and better educate government officials and the public about trafficking.

SOMALIA

Somalia has been without a central government since 1991. Its geographic area is divided among the self-styled independent Republic of Somaliland, the semi-autonomous Puntland Administration, and the remainder of the country, which is without any recognizable administration or government. Despite the formation of a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in October 2004, Somalia continues to be without a functioning central government. In May 2005, the TFG split into two main opposing factions, each rife with divisions. The two principal factions moved from Nairobi to Somalia in June, taking up residence in Mogadishu and Jowhar, respectively. Despite recent efforts to reunify the two sides, the TFG currently lacks the necessary means to identify, investigate, or address systematic issues in Somalia, including those related to trafficking in persons. The TFG's capacity to address human trafficking will not increase without tangible progress in reestablishing governance and stability in Somalia.

Scope and Magnitude. Information regarding trafficking in Somalia remains extremely difficult to obtain or verify; however, the Somali territory is known to be a source, transit, and possibly destination country for trafficked women and children. Ethiopian women may be trafficked to and through Somalia to the Middle East for forced labor or sexual exploitation. Armed militias reportedly traffic Somali women and children for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Some victims may be trafficked to the Middle East and Europe for forced labor or sexual exploitation. Trafficking networks are also reported to be involved in transporting child victims to South Africa for sexual exploitation.

Government Efforts. Individuals presenting themselves as political authorities within Somaliland and Puntland have expressed a commitment to address trafficking, but corruption and a lack of resources prevent the development of effective policies. Many of these individuals are known to condone human trafficking. In the absence of effective systems of revenue generation, as well as any legal means to collect resources and then distribute them for some common good, no resources are devoted to preventing trafficking or to victim protection across the majority of the Somali territory. Various forms of trafficking are prohibited under the most widespread interpretations of Shari'a and customary law, but there is neither unified policing in the territory to detect these practices, nor any authoritative legal system within which traffickers could be prosecuted. Self-styled government officials are not trained to identify or assist trafficking victims. NGOs work with internally displaced persons, some of whom may be trafficking victims.

SWAZILAND

The existence of a significant trafficking in persons problem in Swaziland is suspected but unsubstantiated by reliable reporting. Government officials lack awareness of what constitutes trafficking in persons, but have publicly acknowledged that it may be a problem. To combat trafficking, the government should consider enacting appropriate laws to prohibit all forms of human trafficking, as well as launching a public awareness campaign to educate the general public on the nature and dangers of trafficking in persons.

Scope and Magnitude. Anecdotal and unconfirmed reports indicate that Swaziland may be a source country for small numbers of women and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Swaziland's 70,000 orphans may be particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Swazi girls may be trafficked for forced domestic servitude in the homes of wealthy families, as well as commercial sexual exploitation. Small numbers of boys may be trafficked for forced labor in agriculture and herding. Swazi women are reportedly forced into prostitution in South Africa, possibly after crossing the border in search of gainful employment.

Government Efforts. The absence of a law specifically criminalizing human trafficking limits the government's ability to address the problem. The Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Bill, which contains a section entitled "Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation," is scheduled to be reviewed by Parliament during 2006. Penalties for trafficking in the draft legislation include death if the victim is under 16 years of age or the trafficker belongs to a syndicate. Until the passage of this law, a number of existing legal statutes could be used to prosecute trafficking cases, including the Employment Law of 1980 which prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children; there were no known investigations or prosecutions of trafficking cases during the reporting period. Swaziland's borders with South Africa and Mozambique are porous and not effectively monitored, making undocumented border crossing prevalent, but hard to detect. Protecting children from abuse and exploitation is a government priority; the Police's Domestic Violence, Child Protection, and Sexual Offenses Unit collaborates with other law enforcement groups and NGOs on child protection issues, including combating the involvement of children in prostitution. Limited assistance and care is available to victims of crimes. Government officials have not received training on detecting or caring for trafficking victims. The government provided $7.8 million for orphaned children to attend school in 2005. There were no government-run anti-trafficking campaigns during the reporting period.

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan is not listed in the Report this year because available information is insufficient to substantiate a significant number of victims in the country.

Scope and Magnitude: Anecdotal reports suggest that Turkmenistan may be a source country for women trafficked to Turkey, Russia, China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Iran, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Women may also be internally trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. There is anecdotal evidence that men living in rural areas may be trafficked to larger cities to work in the booming construction industry. According to IOM, there were eight confirmed victims of trafficking in 2005; five women were trafficked from Turkmenistan to Turkey for purposes of sexual exploitation. IOM reported three victims of internal trafficking, including one elderly woman who currently remains in involuntary servitude outside of Ashgabat.

Government Efforts: The Government of Turkmenistan does not publicly acknowledge trafficking as a problem. Government officials are not permitted to challenge the President's message that Turkmenistan is a country of prosperity and free of social ills. Corruption also remains a serious problem throughout society and within the government, although there is no proof that government officials are directly involved in human trafficking.

The Government of Turkmenistan does not monitor the trafficking situation within its borders, nor does it have a strategy to do so, although the government recently expressed limited interest in the issue, and engaged in trafficking-specific dialogues with international organizations and foreign governments. In December 2005, the State Service for Registration of Foreigners formally signed an agreement with IOM to help foster greater cooperation and assistance in combating trafficking. The agreement also called for the creation of information campaigns to raise awareness of trafficking, the publication of information about trafficking and migration issues, and further research into migration and trafficking issues. In September 2005, a court in Turkmenistan convicted a woman of trafficking a victim to Turkey for purposed of sexual exploitation. The trafficker received a prison sentence of seven years. This was the only verified trafficking-related case in 2005. IOM reported a separate case involving a victim who was internally trafficked for purposes of domestic servitude; the court refused to prosecute the trafficker because the victim did not have the necessary residential registration stamp in her passport. IOM believed that the victim remained in forced labor under the control of a relative of the trafficker at the time of this report. The government rejected an offer by the OSCE to hold training seminars for government officials sensitizing them to trafficking. There is currently one registered NGO in the country dealing with trafficking. The local authorities neither cooperate with nor hinder the NGO's activities.



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