Cuba is a source country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Child prostitution and child sex tourism reportedly occur within Cuba. Cuban citizens have been forced into prostitution outside of Cuba. There have been allegations of coerced labor, particularly with Cuban work missions abroad. Some Cubans working abroad have stated that postings are voluntary and well paid; however, others have claimed that Cuban authorities have withheld their passports and restricted their movements. The scope of trafficking involving Cuban citizens is particularly difficult to gauge because of the closed nature of the government and sparse non-governmental or independent reporting.
The Government of Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The government did not respond to requests for data on prosecutions of sex trafficking and forced labor or on trafficking-specific victim protection and prevention efforts that occurred during the reporting period. Governments that do not provide such data, consistent with the capacity of governments to obtain such data, are presumed by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act not to have made significant efforts to address human trafficking. The Government of Cuba has taken steps to share information about its general approach to protection for children and youth, and showed willingness to cooperate with another government on a child sex tourism investigation during the reporting period.
Recommendations for Cuba: Prohibit sex trafficking of all persons under the age of 18; in partnership with trafficking victim specialists, ensure adults and children have access to specialized trafficking victim protection and assistance; take measures to ensure identified sex and labor trafficking victims are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to sex trafficking or forced labor; recognize that human trafficking occurs in Cuba and publicize measures to address human trafficking, specifically forced labor and sex trafficking prosecution data, trafficking victim protection efforts, and trafficking prevention measures; ensure that coercion and other indicators of forced labor are not present in Cuban work-abroad missions; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
The Government of Cuba did not report on its efforts to prosecute trafficking offenses that occurred during the reporting period. The government maintained that unlike other countries, sex trafficking of children or other forms of child exploitation does not exist in Cuba. Cuba appears to prohibit most forms of human trafficking through various provisions of its penal code; however, the use of these provisions could not be verified, and prostitution of children age 16 and older is not prohibited, leaving those children particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking. The government did not share official data for the reporting period relating to Cuban investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking offenders, including any officials complicit in human trafficking. The government provided information on general legal protections for children and adolescents in Cuba but did not report any information about current efforts to address human trafficking within Cuba. The government did not report any specific anti-trafficking training provided to officials in 2012.
The government did not publicize official data on protection of trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government did not report any trafficking victim identifications or procedures in place to guide officials in proactively identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable groups—such as persons in prostitution—and referring them to available services. Reportedly, the government operated three well-regarded facilities for the treatment of children who have been sexually and physically abused. In addition, the government operated a nationwide network of shelters for victims of domestic violence or child abuse, but the government did not verify if trafficking victims received treatment in these centers. The government provided no evidence that it encouraged trafficking victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders. The government did not report on the existence of any policies to ensure that identified trafficking victims were not punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking.
The government did not report any specific anti-trafficking prevention efforts that occurred during the reporting period. The government was not known to have implemented any public awareness campaigns to prevent forced labor or forced prostitution, though the government reported that the prevention of human trafficking should be a priority for all countries. The government did not report the existence of an anti-trafficking taskforce, anti-trafficking action plan, or monitoring mechanism. Transparency was lacking in the government’s trafficking-related policies and activities; it did not report publicly on its efforts. The government reported that sex tourism in Cuba is forbidden and the Ministry of Tourism’s security and protection division has taken measures to combat child sex tourism, but did not report on the specifics of these measures. The government showed willingness to cooperate with another government on a child sex tourism investigation during the reporting period. Cuba is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.