The government increased protection efforts. The government did not systematically track data regarding victim identification; however, reported cases suggest the government identified at least 31 potential trafficking victims, compared with 43 victims in 2016. In 2017, government officials closed four abusive orphanages that housed 116 children and potentially involved trafficking and placed 51 children from those orphanages into foster care; the remainder were returned to their families. The government accredited 76 families for its newly developed foster care program to make children less vulnerable to trafficking or being re-victimized. The government made no discernable effort to address restavek despite it being a widespread issue across the country.
The 2014 anti-trafficking law tasked the trafficking commission to develop standard operating procedures to guide officials in the identification and rehabilitation of trafficking victims; the government did not approve a 2016 draft of these procedures. The law required the government to provide protection, medical, and psycho-social services to victims, and to create a government-regulated fund to assist victims. However, as in 2016, the government did not dedicate funding for victim assistance and relied on international organizations and NGOs to provide care. Haiti’s 2014 anti-trafficking law stipulated that money and other assets seized during trafficking investigations should be used to fund services for trafficking victims and the functioning of the trafficking in persons commission; however, there was no evidence this occurred. Government officials referred child trafficking victims to its social welfare agency, which did not have adequate funding for their care. The agency then referred child victims to government-registered residential care centers that, due to a lack of resources, could provide only short-term medical and counseling services, family tracing, pre-return assessments, and limited support for the families receiving these victims. The government did not have a formal program to assist victims who returned to Haiti, but did refer victims to international and non-governmental organizations.
Authorities worked closely with the U.S. Coast Guard to receive Haitian migrants who attempted to reach The Bahamas or the United States; Haitian authorities screened unaccompanied children for trafficking indicators and facilitated their re-integration with family members. The government, in partnership with a foreign government and an international organization, opened border resource centers (CRFs) at each of the four major border crossings, which housed representatives from the social welfare agency, child protective services, and NGOs. These centers identified and provided services to trafficking victims at the border regions.
The anti-trafficking law included provisions for temporary residency during legal proceedings for foreign victims of trafficking, as well as access to legal counsel, interpretation services, and permanent residency; however, the government did not provide these services and would be unlikely to have the financial resources to implement them. To assist in a prosecution, victims must testify against their accuser in the presence of their accuser; there were no facilities for video deposition or child-friendly facilities during legal proceedings. The law protected victims from liability for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to human trafficking. There was no legal provision for civil restitution for trafficking victims, but a judge could mandate civil restitution for related crimes under Haiti’s civil code.