SURINAME: Tier 2 Watch List
Suriname is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and men, women, and children subjected to forced labor. Reported trafficking cases in Suriname’s remote jungle interior—which constitutes approximately 80 percent of the country—increased in recent years; limited government presence in the interior renders the full scope of the problem unknown. Women and girls from Suriname, Guyana, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic are subjected to sex trafficking in Suriname—including in remote and illegal gold mining camps in Suriname’s interior. Migrant workers in agriculture and on fishing boats off Suriname’s coast are highly vulnerable to forced labor, as are children working in gold mines and informal urban sectors. Chinese immigrants are subjected to sex and labor trafficking in Suriname, including in the mining, service, and construction sectors. Surinamese women in neighboring countries and territories engage in prostitution and may be vulnerable to sex trafficking. Traffickers from Suriname exploit victims in the Netherlands. Trafficking victims may transit Suriname’s remote interior to bypass official checkpoints. Government corruption and possible local official complicity in trafficking crimes impede anti-trafficking efforts.
The Government of Suriname does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Working-level officials—primarily police and prosecutors—continued to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases and referred more victims to assistance than in 2013. Despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Suriname is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a fourth consecutive year. Suriname was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and it has committed to devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan. Senior government officials made limited anti-trafficking efforts. The government devoted insufficient resources to support law enforcement efforts or adequately assist victims. It failed to open a proposed government shelter for female and child victims. Interagency coordination suffered from continuing delays in the establishment of a new interagency anti-trafficking structure.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SURINAME:
Provide adequate long-term shelter to male and female trafficking victims of all ages and open the proposed government shelter for child and women victims; increase resources to the police anti-trafficking unit; vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish traffickers, including officials complicit in human trafficking; improve interagency communication by establishing a new interagency oversight structure; increase efforts to identify trafficking victims, including victims of forced labor in the interior; strengthen and sustain partnerships with NGOs to identify victims and provide protective services; fund and implement the national strategy to combat trafficking; provide additional training to law enforcement, immigration, health care, labor, and judicial officials and social workers to better identify and protect victims; and increase efforts to raise awareness of trafficking.
The government sustained law enforcement efforts. Suriname prohibits all forms of human trafficking through a 2006 criminal code amendment, prescribing penalties of five to 20 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Police reported investigating 11 potential sex trafficking cases and four potential forced labor cases involving 29 suspects; this represents an increase from five cases of child sex trafficking and zero cases of forced labor investigated in 2013. The prosecutor’s office reported initiating prosecutions of 10 trafficking suspects in 2014 compared with seven prosecutions in 2013. The government convicted 10 sex traffickers in 2014, compared with eight in 2013; there were no forced labor convictions. Sentences for convicted traffickers ranged from one to nine years’ imprisonment. The government allocated insufficient resources to conduct investigations in the country’s interior. Police operated a specialized 13-person anti-trafficking unit charged with investigating cases, but staff required additional training. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government increased identification of trafficking victims, but provided victims inadequate assistance. Police reported identifying 17 potential victims of sex trafficking and 42 victims of forced labor (including some victims from China and Guyana) compared with four potential trafficking sex victims in 2013. Police reported providing identified victims basic assistance including food, medical care, counseling, and short-term shelter. Without adequate financial support, police shouldered responsibility for providing basic services to victims and referred them to short-term shelters for victims of domestic abuse. NGOs provided shelter and services to child trafficking victims; however, police placed some child victims in juvenile detention facilities. Suriname lacked specialized, long-term shelters for adult trafficking victims, and victim protection services for adults and children were inadequate. In 2013, the Ministry of Social Affairs launched a process to open a government-run shelter for child and women trafficking victims, but this shelter remained unopened at the close of the reporting period. The government did not report what funding—if any—it provided to NGO shelters or for victim assistance. The government did not sponsor any specific programs to facilitate victims’ reintegration, such as a witness protection program or long-term psychological counseling. The government had no specialized mechanism to provide foreign victims with alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced retribution or hardship. After a trafficking court case concluded, foreign victims could apply for the same work or residency permits available to other foreign citizens; however, no victims did so during the year. There were no reports of trafficking victims penalized for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. Victims had the option of pursuing civil suits against their traffickers, but no such cases were reported. Authorities employed some formal procedures to identify victims, though health care workers did not screen for trafficking indicators among persons in prostitution, and victim identification in the interior was limited.
The government decreased prevention efforts. The government did not report progress on its efforts to implement Suriname’s 2014-2018 roadmap to combat trafficking. The interagency anti-trafficking working group, active since 2003, consisted of representatives from six government agencies and one NGO. The working group was not effective in coordinating anti-trafficking efforts. The government announced plans to establish a new interagency structure to oversee anti-trafficking efforts and disband the existing working group in December 2014; this new structure was not in place at the end of the reporting period. The police anti-trafficking unit held awareness sessions on radio and television and placed ads in newspapers warning potential victims of fraudulent job offers. The anti-trafficking police maintained a hotline, although it did not receive any calls during the year. The government made no efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel.