CURACAO: Tier 2
Curacao is a source and destination country for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Vulnerable populations include: women and girls in the unregulated commercial sex industry; foreign women from South America and other Caribbean countries in the regulated commercial sex industry; and migrant workers, including from other Caribbean countries, South America, India, and China in the dry dock, construction, landscaping, minimarket, retail, and restaurant industries. Some media accounts indicate an increase in the number of Venezuelan women who work illegally at roadside bars (“snacks”) in Curacao. These women, who may also be engaged in prostitution, are vulnerable to human trafficking.
The Government of Curacao does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In 2015, the government conducted eight video conferences with anti-trafficking taskforce coordinators of autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The interagency taskforce continued to coordinate national anti-trafficking efforts during the year, and the minister of justice issued a public statement about the dangers of human trafficking. The government did not prosecute or convict suspected traffickers or identify victims in 2015. Authorities did not designate a separate budget for the national taskforce, enact standard operating procedures on victim identification, or take steps to address sex trafficking within the unregulated commercial sex industry.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CURACAO:
Increase efforts to identify and assist potential victims of sex trafficking and forced labor; finalize formal victim identification, referral, and protection measures to guide officials, including health workers, on assisting victims of forced labor and sex trafficking; vigorously prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish traffickers; complete and implement the new national anti-trafficking action plan; provide targeted training and resources to local officials to conduct outreach in migrant communities and identify potential labor trafficking victims; raise awareness among migrant workers about their rights, trafficking indicators, and available resources; and continue to implement multilingual public awareness campaigns directed at vulnerable groups, the general public, and potential buyers of commercial sex acts.
The government did not report any new investigations, prosecutions, or convictions for trafficking offenses, a decrease from its prosecution and conviction of three traffickers during the previous reporting period. The government 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 any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses. The national coordinator conducted extensive trainings for first responders, including law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and immigration officers on recognizing the signs of human trafficking.
The government made limited efforts to identify and assist trafficking victims, but appointed new staff to assist in victim identification and support. It did not identify or assist any victims in 2015, a decrease compared with seven identified in 2014 and six in 2013. During the reporting period, the national taskforce drafted but did not finalize standard operating procedures on victim identification for all front-line responders. In addition, the role of each relevant agency in trafficking cases, currently defined by their specific missions, was under review by the taskforce, which was re-evaluating and redesigning specific guidelines related to how the taskforce operates. In the interim, it continued to have verbal agreements to coordinate ad hoc victim referral among community-based organizations and government departments. While the government did not operate any specialized shelters for trafficking victims, it could host victims in a domestic violence shelter, which restricted victims’ movements if their safety was at risk. The government’s victim assistance bureau partnered with an NGO to provide victims with wide-ranging and comprehensive care and assistance, which included legal assistance, shelter, food, clothing, medical care, and counseling among other services. Government health officials who provided medical services to women in a brothel also provided anti-trafficking awareness materials to educate this vulnerable population about their rights, indicators of human trafficking, and resources for assistance.
In 2015, the public prosecutor’s office appointed a social worker trained to identify trafficking victims and assist all victims of crime, including trafficking victims, through the penal process. The government has a policy to protect victims from being punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. Trafficking victims could seek restitution from the government and file civil suits against traffickers; however none did so in 2015. 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 and could grant temporary residency status on a case-by-case basis; it did not report granting such relief in 2015.
The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking. The interagency taskforce continued to coordinate national anti-trafficking efforts during the year and implement the Administrative Report on Trafficking in Persons, its existing anti-trafficking action plan; it also began to draft a revised version for 2016-2017. On International Human Trafficking Day, the minister of justice issued a public statement to raise awareness about the dangers of human trafficking. In addition, the government conducted eight video conferences with anti-trafficking taskforce coordinators of autonomous countries within the Kingdom of The Netherlands to share information and best practices. In June 2015, in coordination with INTERPOL, officials conducted a workshop on human trafficking for government personnel, with a focus on the vulnerabilities to trafficking faced by Colombians. The national coordinator participated in several radio and television programs to raise public awareness on human trafficking, and the government launched a public awareness video on national television during the carnival period, a period of increased tourism to Curacao. There were no known reports of child sex tourism occurring in Curacao. The government did not report efforts specifically targeting the demand for forced labor, nor did it have a campaign aimed at reducing the demand for commercial sex acts purchased from sex trafficking victims.
To prevent potential labor exploitation, officials ended an accelerated process for issuing work permits to ensure full review of each application. The Ministries of Justice and of Social Development, Labor, and Welfare began joint issuance of work and residence permits, and the Ministry of Labor began implementation of a policy allowing foreign migrant laborers to request residence permits independent of their employers to ensure employees had better knowledge of their work contracts. The Ministry of Social Development, Labor, and Welfare added 24 new labor inspectors in order to increase screening for human trafficking, tripling the number to 34. The government provided anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.