NEWS AMERICAS, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. July 19, 2022: Three Caribbean countries have been placed by the U.S. at Tier 3 on the latest Trafficking In Persons report, released today.
Cuba, Sint Maarten and Curacao are at the highest Tier, according to the U.S. State Department report, because either their governments do not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, (TVPA)’s minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so and the country has severe forms of trafficking.
Both Sint Maarten and Curacao were downgraded due to inaction by their governments, the report said.
On Curacao, the US State Department says the Dutch Caribbean country’s government “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, even considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity.”
The report says that while the government took some steps to address trafficking, including providing pre-trial support to three victims participating in legal proceedings against traffickers, awarding restitution to two sex trafficking victims, and extending the use of the national action plan (NAP) that expired in December 2021, it did not convict any traffickers, did not identify any victims, and it continued to condition foreign victims’ assistance, including residency, on cooperation with law enforcement in cases against traffickers.
On Cuba, the report said the Cuban government “decreased efforts to identify or protect trafficking victims and continued to coerce individuals – using deceptive and exploitive tactics – to participate and remain in government-sponsored labor export programs.” And it posited that many medical professionals reported being sexually abused by their supervisors.
On Sint Maarten, the 2022 report said the local government “did not report prosecuting or convicting any traffickers or identifying any trafficking victims for the second consecutive year.”
The report also said “the government was not equipped to provide services to trafficking victims; it did not have shelters, did not allocate funding, and did not have formal arrangements with service providers” and did not update its national action plan (NAP), which expired in 2018, and interagency coordination was severely lacking.
As reported over the past five years, the US said human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Sint Maarten and some brothel and dance club owners exploit women and girls from Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Russia in sex trafficking.
“Illicit recruiters reportedly target foreign women in Sint Maarten’s commercial sex industry through debt based coercion; women from Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking in Sint Maarten,” the US report said. “There are indications traffickers exploit, under false pretenses, Colombian and Venezuelan women traveling to the islands in forced labor or sex trafficking.”