ARUBA: Tier 2†
Aruba is a source and destination country for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Foreign women, primarily from Colombia and the Dominican Republic, in Aruba’s commercial sex trade and foreign men and women in the service and construction industries are vulnerable to trafficking. Chinese men and women working in supermarkets, Indian men in the retail sector and domestic service, and Caribbean and South American women in domestic service are also at risk. A 2013 international organization report identified women in Aruba’s regulated and unregulated prostitution sectors, domestic workers, and employees of small retail shops as populations most susceptible to trafficking. This report also noted some children may be vulnerable to trafficking, including children from and/or resident in Aruba providing sexual favors and/or companionship for money and gifts; third party prostitution of children under the age of 18 is a form of human trafficking. Security for sex trade establishments was reportedly sometimes provided by off-duty police officers in the past.
The Government of Aruba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government increased the maximum jail sentence for human trafficking offenses, criminalized the receipt of services from a trafficking victim if the individual knows the victim is being forced or coerced to provide the services, and investigated a potential case of domestic servitude. Authorities did not formalize standard operating procedures to guide all front-line responders in the proactive identification of trafficking victims and their referral for care. The government’s approach to trafficking victim identification and protection remained ad hoc. The government did not initiate any new prosecutions during the reporting period.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ARUBA:
Proactively identify trafficking victims among all vulnerable groups, including domestic workers, migrants in construction, minimarkets, and retail shops, and women in the regulated prostitution industry and on adult entertainment visas; formalize standard operating procedures on the identification and referral of trafficking victims for all front-line responders; widely disseminate these procedures to encourage their use by staff in community-based youth programs, health workers, labor inspectors, and other officials; vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish traffickers; systematically provide information to all immigrant populations upon their arrival in Aruba so they are familiar with their rights and where to go for help; provide the anti-trafficking committee with an independent budget and provide resources to enable the national coordinator to improve anti-trafficking efforts; and finalize and implement the action plan on human trafficking.
The government made uneven progress in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Aruba prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through Articles 203a and 286a of its criminal code. In 2014, the government enacted amendments to the penal code, which increased penalties for trafficking offenses to eight to 18 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government investigated a potential case of domestic servitude involving an Indian man who worked as a cook and alleged his employer confiscated his passport, restricted his movements, and provided questionable living conditions. The public prosecutor, in coordination with police, determined that the case was not forced labor, despite indicators of trafficking. The government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers in 2014 compared with two convictions in 2013. In April 2014, a judge in Aruba denied a motion from a convicted trafficker for early release. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses. The national coordinator for anti-human trafficking and smuggling provided training on trafficking indicators to labor inspectors, physicians employed by the Ministry of Health, police officers and managers, and immigration officials.
The government made uneven progress protecting victims. Authorities identified one potential labor trafficking victim, a decrease from two potential victims in 2013. The government provided the potential victim with emergency shelter, food, temporary immigration relief, and financial and repatriation assistance. The government reported a policy of providing assistance to victims, including shelter, legal assistance, and medical care, and referring victims to services who called a hotline for victims. Authorities maintained informal, verbal agreements with local NGOs and private sector accommodations to shelter adult victims. Victims were permitted to leave shelters unchaperoned after conducting a risk assessment. Aruba’s anti-trafficking taskforce continued to provide law enforcement and social services officials with a checklist of the 10 most common signs of human trafficking. The government allowed victims whose employers were suspected of human trafficking to change employers and could grant temporary immigration relief for three to six months on a case-by-case basis; the government provided this relief to the potential labor trafficking victim. The Aruban criminal code enables trafficking victims to file for restitution not to exceed 50,000 Aruban florins ($28,000) for financial and emotional damages or a civil suit against their traffickers. A multi-disciplinary government team conducted several inspections of construction sites on suspicions of human trafficking; however, no trafficking victims were identified. There were no reports of the government inappropriately punishing victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking.
The government sustained prevention efforts. The anti-trafficking taskforce, led by a national coordinator, coordinated Aruba’s anti-trafficking efforts and prevention activities. Officials reported the taskforce lacked adequate staffing and a dedicated budget for
training, shelter, and other forms of victim assistance. The taskforce continued drafting a 2014-2018 action plan on human trafficking. The government worked with Kingdom partners to update the memorandum of understanding about next steps in the anti-human trafficking effort. The government continued to promote a trafficking awareness campaign, which included posters and flyers in four languages targeting both victims and the general public and linked to a hotline staffed by the national coordinator trained to assist trafficking victims. In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, 2014 amendments to the criminal code criminalized the receipt of services from a trafficking victim if the individual knows the victim is being forced or coerced to provide the services. The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor. There were no known reports of child sex tourism occurring in Aruba or of Arubans participating in international sex tourism. The government provided anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel.
† Aruba is an autonomous entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. For the purpose of this report, Aruba is not a “country” to which the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act apply. This narrative reflects how Aruba would be assessed if it were a separate, independent country.