The government identified an increased number of victims and maintained assistance efforts. The government identified nine potential victims of forced labor and sex trafficking, an increase from one in 2015. It reported initiating use of a trafficking victim referral process, drafted in the previous reporting period, to guide officials using a three-tier system of high, medium, and low urgency. The Bureau for Victim Assistance, the government agency providing shelter, legal assistance, and medical care to all victims of criminal acts and the national coordinator utilized this process to refer one victim to NGOs for shelter and assistance during the reporting period; however, the victim did not utilize these services and found private accommodations after government issuance of a special permit for victims of trafficking. Multi-disciplinary teams of police, labor and immigration officials conducted inspections aimed at identifying potential labor exploitation. In addition to identifying employers who illegally employ workers, the teams also focused on ensuring all workers received appropriate wages and compensation for their services.
The government encouraged victims to cooperate in investigations and prosecutions by arranging for shelter and providing necessary care and assistance; and in June 2016, the Legislation Committee of the Aruba Taskforce started to ensure trafficking victims accessibility to legal aid, medical assistance, and immigration support. The taskforce and the Bureau for Victim Assistance could provide potential victims with emergency shelter, food, medical care, legal assistance, temporary immigration relief, and financial and repatriation assistance; the bureau also operated a hotline for trafficking victims. The taskforce maintained informal, verbal agreements with local NGOs and private sector accommodations to shelter adult and child victims; however, the government did not support the work of these organizations. Unaccompanied children received shelter in foster care centers or in foster homes, and in certain cases, local churches could also provide shelter. Nonetheless, to improve availability of shelter, in December 2016, the taskforce signed an MOU with a local NGO to establish a multifunctional shelter in Aruba for victims in the Dutch Caribbean; however it did not begin implementation of the agreement. The national anti-trafficking taskforce lacked a dedicated budget for shelter and other forms of victim assistance. Foreign victims are entitled to the same rights and protection as Arubans. Officials conducted risk assessments before deciding whether victims could leave shelters unchaperoned, and restricted their movement if their lives were threatened. The anti-trafficking taskforce continued to provide law enforcement and social services officials with a checklist of the most common signs of human trafficking.
The law authorizes the extension of temporary immigration relief for foreign victims for three to six months on a case-by-case basis, and allows foreign victims whose employers are suspected of human trafficking to change employers. The criminal code enabled victims to file civil suits against traffickers and if the trial resulted from a criminal investigation, the victim could also seek restitution not to exceed 50,000 AWG ($28,090) for financial and emotional damages. Victims were not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking.