Trafficking in Persons Report 2013: Aruba*
By Dialogo August 02, 2013
Aruba is a destination and source country for women and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.
Those at greatest risk continue to be foreign women in Aruba’s commercial sex trade and foreign men and women in the service and construction industries. Specific at-risk communities include Chinese men and women working in supermarkets, Indian men in the jewelry sector, and Caribbean and South American women in domestic service, according to the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report published in June by the U.S. Dept. of State.
A 2013 international organization report identified Aruba’s regulated and unregulated prostitution sectors, domestic workers, and small retail shops as the groups and sectors most susceptible to trafficking.
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’s anti-trafficking task force, via its national coordinator, continued coordinate anti-trafficking efforts and prevention activities. This task force distributed a list of trafficking indicators for officials to use in the proactive identification of trafficking victims. However, the work of the taskforce and national coordinator was undercut by the government’s overall decline in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts in 2012.
The report recommended that Aruba aggressively investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; enhance their capacity to protect victims of sex trafficking and forced labor by formalizing cooperation with anti-trafficking NGOs; formalize standard operating procedures for all front-line responders to replace the current ad hoc approach to identifying and referring trafficking victims; facilitate training to improve the ability of immigration officials, NGOs, health workers, labor inspectors, and other front-line responders to identify potential trafficking victims, including domestic workers, migrants in construction and retail shops, and women in the sex trade and on adult entertainment visas.
It also recommended they ensure that foreign women in the regulated prostitution sector are provided weekly medical check-ups that include screening for trafficking indicators; continue to consult with the Dutch government on how it proactively uncovers victims of trafficking; systematically provide information to all immigrant populations upon their arrival in Aruba to ensure they are familiar with their rights and where to go for help; provide the anti-trafficking committee with an independent budget, and establish the national coordinator as a full-time position to improve overall anti-trafficking response; and develop ways to educate clients of the sex trade about trafficking.
Aruba prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through Articles 203a and 286a of its criminal code which prescribe penalties ranging from four to 15 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Aruba continued to incorporate human trafficking awareness into the police academy curriculum during the reporting period.
The Government of Aruba demonstrated limited progress in its victim identification and protection efforts in 2012. However, the country’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 and requested that any potential trafficking cases be reported to the national coordinator. The government had agreements with local NGOs and private sector accommodations for sheltering adult victims.
As far as prevention, the government continued to proactively develop and implement anti-trafficking awareness campaigns in partnership with the International Organization for Migration in 2012. An expert report released during the year praised Aruba’s integrated task-force approach to address trafficking. The task force developed and drafted provisions for a temporary residency permit for trafficking victims in Aruba. The government continued to promote its human trafficking awareness campaign in four languages targeted to both victims and the general public and linked to a hotline with operators trained to assist trafficking victims.
*Although Aruba is a semi-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.