The government slightly increased efforts to protect victims. The government identified one child sex trafficking victim; the government had not identified a victim since 2016, when the government identified eight victims. The BPS utilized an interview checklist to screen potential trafficking victims. The Sex Crimes and Trafficking Unit and the Immigration Department worked with an international organization to update victim screening procedures; the project remained ongoing at the end of the reporting period. The BPS conducted regular surveillance of individuals in commercial sex for case intelligence and victim screening, although adult entertainment clubs were closed due to the pandemic. The government reported law enforcement screened for trafficking indicators when detaining or arresting individuals involved in commercial sex, migrants, or other vulnerable groups; however, the government reported there were few such opportunities due to the pandemic. The Sex Crimes and Trafficking Unit collaborated with the Drug Squad to screen individuals incarcerated for movement of illicit drugs for indicators of human trafficking. The government reported it did not receive any victim referrals from NGOs or civil society organizations. The government reported that Cuban medical professionals worked under a Cooperation Agreement between the two countries, for which the government provided support and funding.
Government authorities and NGOs used a formal process for victim care as required by law, by which the Sex Crimes and Trafficking Unit would identify a potential victim and then refer them to other members of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (Task Force) for service provision. The Sex Crimes and Trafficking Unit also could place victims in protective care and refer them to an NGO-operated safe house, although it did not do so this reporting period. The government designated the Gender Affairs Bureau as the government coordinator for local NGO assistance to victims.
The government reported it provided services to the victim identified, including a child psychologist and counseling, other medical care, and financial assistance for school and day-to-day expenses. Under the TIPPA, all victims, including those with disabilities, had to be provided safe shelter, counseling, healthcare, and information regarding their rights. A foreign victim of trafficking and the victim’s accompanying dependent children could receive, for the duration of their stay and at the relevant minister’s discretion, support that included housing or safe shelter, education and training opportunities, psychological counseling, legal assistance, help with obtaining documents, living expenses, and medical assistance. Authorities could interview victims to ascertain their housing and general health care needs. The government had the capacity and financial resources to provide all services except housing, but reported no victims needed these services during the reporting period. There was no specialized shelter for trafficking victims. Female trafficking victims and their dependents could reside at an NGO-operated women’s domestic shelter; however, this shelter did not have the resources for trafficking victims and previously provided inadequate care. The government had a separate agreement with an NGO to provide accommodations to male victims. Adult victims could leave shelters unchaperoned and could work while receiving assistance. The children’s care board could provide care for any identified child victims.
The TIPPA authorized the government to provide safeguards for victims’ identities and those of their families, issue work permits, and provide transportation and security during legal proceedings. Authorities allowed trafficking victims and witnesses to provide testimony virtually, including from other countries, but did not report using these measures. Prosecutors processed trafficking cases through a voluntary bill of indictment; victims provided evidence only one time to avoid re- traumatization. The government could accommodate victims who wished to be repatriated in a safe place; they could return without unreasonable delay. The government maintained an informal policy allowing foreign victims to receive temporary legal status as an alternative to their removal to countries where they would face hardship or retribution by traffickers. The Minister of National Security could authorize victims, on a case-by-case basis, to remain and work in the country; however, the government did not report granting this status during the reporting period. Government policy permitted victims to leave the country and return for hearings, but the government did not report any such instances. The TIPPA allowed courts to order restitution from a trafficker after a conviction; however, no victims received restitution. Victims could request government assistance to receive compensation. The government, in collaboration with a foreign government, trained BPS officers on trafficking crimes and victim identification.