The government maintained protection efforts. Police identified five victims of sex trafficking and no victims of forced labor, compared with five victims identified in 2016. All five victims received medical assistance, basic services, and the option to use the state-run victim shelter. All five victims opted to return home. The ATU continued oversight of the shelter and services, as NGOs claimed a lack of funding led them to cease their human trafficking work. Two foreign female trafficking victims from prior reporting periods continued to receive services and shelter from the government. The government’s inter-departmental working group, responsible for coordinating all anti-trafficking efforts, reached agreement with the Ministry of Social Affairs to add a line item in its budget to finance victim care. The working group reported continued attempts to utilize the state-owned psychiatric hospital for counseling services for trafficking victims.
The ATU assisted military police and immigration officials on identifying and interviewing potential victims, but there were no formal standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification and assistance. In 2017, the ATU continued conducting random checks of international flights approximately three times a week. While brothels were not legal in Suriname, some continued to operate; the ATU performed random inspections of brothels, looking for trafficking indicators. The justice ministry launched a legalization project, aimed to register persons who entered Suriname legally but whose legal status had expired. The government claims this program serves as a tool to identify populations vulnerable to trafficking, as well as possible perpetrators. Victim identification efforts in the country’s interior were limited, but the government secured funding and assistance from an international organization to carry out anti-trafficking operations in the interior and goldmining areas with both police and military forces.
The government did not sponsor any programs to facilitate victims’ reintegration, such as a witness-protection program or long-term care. Foreign victims who cooperated with police could remain in Suriname. The government did not have legal alternatives to foreign victims’ removal to countries where they would face hardship or retribution, as they could apply to receive work or residency permits on the same basis as any foreign citizen. Victims had the option of pursuing civil suits against their traffickers, but no such cases were reported. Courts implemented a policy of obtaining testimony from victims in the early stages of judicial investigations in case victims were not available during the trial process. The government did not penalize victims for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking.