The government maintained minimal protection efforts. The government did not identify any potential trafficking victims for the second consecutive year. The government did not report providing services to any trafficking victims during the reporting period. Authorities used SOPs for victim identification, referral, and protection updated in March 2021; the SOPs included an international organization’s victim screening form. The government had a cooperation agreement with the Government of Cuba for Cuban workers in the country; the government reported it screened the workers for trafficking indicators and that the workers remained in possession of their passports. The government reported that it directly paid the Cuban medical workers a monthly stipend and additionally provided them furnished housing or rental expenses, internet, property maintenance, transportation, and international airfare to and from the country; the workers were allowed 34 days leave after 11 months of service. Specially trained police officers interviewed potential trafficking victims and reported generally screening for trafficking indicators when detaining or arresting individuals involved in commercial sex, migrants, and those in other vulnerable groups. The government did not detain or arrest any individuals involved in commercial sex during the reporting period. Police generally lacked sensitization and training on sex trafficking and sex tourism, particularly involving children.
The government worked with NGOs and encouraged them to report cases. The government did not maintain a dedicated shelter for trafficking victims and had an agreement with NGOs to provide shelter for victims when the need arose; the government did not report referring any victims to NGO shelters during the reporting period. The government did not have a specific funding allocation for victim care, but the Minister of Home Affairs could request the Prime Minister provide financial support for victims as needed. The Division of Human Services could provide victims with counseling, meals, accommodation, medical care, toiletries, clothing, and in some cases, allowances; the government did not report providing these services during the reporting period. The Office of Gender Relations could refer trafficking victims to NGOs for legal, health, advocacy, and crisis services. Adult victims could leave shelters at will, but the government did not allow foreign victims to work or receive formal residency status because it considered victims wards of the state; although, the government could permit victims who were material witnesses in a criminal case to remain and work in the country. The Counter-Trafficking Act mandated special provisions for child victims that could include understanding of their rights, respect for privacy, housing, care, reunification with family in the country or abroad if safe and possible, specialized mental and physical care, and education. The Division of Human Services could place child victims in one of two children’s homes but did not report doing so during the reporting period.
The Counter-Trafficking (Amendment) Act contained victim protection provisions, such as privacy measures, the ability to testify via video link, and witness protection, to encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers. Children could also testify via video and have a guardian or social worker present during testimony and court proceedings. The Counter-Trafficking (Amendment) Act also provided that judges could, upon conviction of a trafficker, order the trafficker to pay victim restitution. The government did not report using these provisions during the reporting period. Foreign victims had the same access to care as domestic victims, and the government could assist foreign victims seeking repatriation.