CURAÇAO: Tier 2
Curaçao is a source, transit, and destination country for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Specific at-risk populations include women and girls living in Curaçao in the unregulated commercial sex trade, including in “snacks” in local neighborhoods; teenagers and young adults, including adolescent single mothers; foreign women from South America and other Caribbean countries in the regulated commercial sex trade; and migrant workers in the dry dock, construction, landscaping, minimarkets, retail, and restaurant industries, including from other Caribbean countries, South America, India, and China. Foreign women who apply to work at Curaçao’s legal brothel, which offers “24/7 access” to more than 120 foreign women in prostitution, are vulnerable to trafficking; they must obtain a temporary visa and work permit, a medical check-up on arrival from the Ministry of Health, and subsequent check-ups every two weeks. There have been reports of government officials—including a civil servant employed by the police—complicit in trafficking crimes.
The Government of Curaçao does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In 2014, the government convicted and sentenced four sex traffickers and launched an anti-trafficking awareness campaign on a local television station. Authorities did not increase funding for or improve the quality of services available to trafficking victims. The government did not issue formalized standard operating procedures on victim identification. The government did not take steps to address sex trafficking within the unregulated commercial sex trade or to increase the capacity to conduct labor inspections in industries vulnerable to labor trafficking.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CURAÇAO:
Make robust and transparent efforts to identify and assist potential victims of sex trafficking and forced labor; finalize formal, proactive victim identification, referral, and protection measures to guide officials, including health workers, on how to assist victims of forced labor and sex trafficking in the legal and illegal sex trade; continue to vigorously prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish traffickers, including government officials complicit in human trafficking; finalize and implement the national anti-trafficking action plan; closely monitor the implementation of the anti-trafficking protocol with members of the business community; provide targeted training and resources to local officials to conduct outreach in migrant communities to uncover potential labor trafficking victims; provide educational materials to individuals in the sex trade and migrant workers to ensure they know their rights, trafficking indicators, and who to call if they suspect human trafficking; provide adequate resources for the anti-trafficking taskforce; and continue to implement a multilingual public awareness campaign directed at potential victims, the general public, and potential clients of the sex trade.
The government made significant progress in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Curaçao prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through Article 2:239 of its criminal code, which prescribes penalties ranging from nine to 24 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government did not report initiating any new trafficking investigations. Authorities prosecuted and convicted three sex traffickers in one case: a former club owner and the club manager were convicted of human trafficking under Article 2:239 and received sentences of 36 and 18 months’ imprisonment. As a result of bilateral cooperation in this case, a Colombian national was charged with sex trafficking in Curaçao and Colombia and was subsequently deported to Colombia at the request of Colombian authorities. In the same case, authorities acquitted a civil servant employed by the police of trafficking charges, but convicted him of illegal firearm possession and violating the terms of his employment; he was sentenced to 200 hours of community service. The government did not report any additional investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government sustained efforts to identify trafficking victims. Government officials identified seven trafficking victims in 2014, an increase from six victims identified in 2013. One Colombian adult female victim continued to receive services. The government’s victim assistance bureau partnered with an NGO to provide victims with care and assistance, which included legal assistance, medical care, and counseling. The government operated no specialized shelters for trafficking victims but could use a domestic violence shelter that sometimes restricted victims’ movements. Authorities provided temporary assistance to a female Indian trafficking victim, at the request of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, during her repatriation back to India. The government has never identified any trafficking victims within Curaçao’s legal brothel. Government health officials who provided medical services to women in the brothel did not provide any anti-trafficking training or education materials to ensure potential human trafficking victims knew their rights, indicators of human trafficking, and who to call if they suspect trafficking. Trafficking victims could seek restitution from the government and file civil suits against traffickers, though none did so in 2014.
The government reported it had a policy to provide foreign victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they may face retribution or hardship, but did not report whether it provided any to trafficking victims in 2014. Authorities could grant temporary residency status on a case-by-case basis, but did not report granting such relief to any foreign trafficking victims in 2014. The government did not have a policy to protect victims from being punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. Officials drafted but did not finalize standard operating procedures on victim identification for all front-line responders. The government developed guidelines on the role of each relevant agency in trafficking cases, but the guidelines were not yet operational.
The government made progress in efforts to prevent trafficking. Officials launched a “road show” intended to educate the general public and vulnerable communities about trafficking. Two cabinet-level ministries drafted and signed an anti-trafficking protocol with the business community in November 2014. The protocol offered shorter processing times for work permits to businesses that agreed to adhere to specific anti-trafficking measures. The government made efforts to update a memorandum of understanding with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which provided ongoing cross-training to exchange best practices with other anti-trafficking officials in the kingdom. The government did not report efforts specifically targeting the demand for forced labor, nor did it have a campaign aimed at potential clients of the sex trade in Curaçao in an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government provided anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel. There were no known reports of child sex tourism occurring in Curaçao or of residents of Curaçao participating in international sex tourism.