Posted by: dominicanoutreach | October 16, 2009

More Case studies on HT

Surveys 1-4 were done on Saturday, October 10th, 2009. Survey 5 was done on Thursday, October 15th, 2009. SURVEY ONE Streets of Puerta Plata Six street workers were interviewed on the streets of Puerta Plata, next to the beach. Three were children and three were adults. The first two boys to be interviewed, both 14, Haitian and brothers, were interviewed at Dave´s Bar and Grill. The two brothers, who live in Padre Grenero, are both orphans who were brought over the Haiti-Dominican Republic border by around eight people. They live alone but there are other people in the house. The boys have a jefe that checks on them weekly. The boys earn about fifty pesos a day, in which they pay their older brother. Their older brother, in turn, pays the wages of the brothers to the jefe. Failure to pay the wages results in not being fed. Both boys know of other boys in the same situation, and also have had their family and other boys threatened, beaten. Both boys have their birth papers but do not go to school. When asked what they would like to do, both stated that attending school was what they desired. When asked if they could leave the job if they wished, both replied affirmatively. The boys do not know of any domestic workers. (When it was apparent that the interview was being overheard by two Dominican women, the interview location was moved down the street to an open-air resturant next to the beach) At the new location, another boy was interviewed. The Haitian, aged 12, lives in Agua Negra with his aunt. He shines shoes and has a boss. When asked if he could change jobs, he replied affirmatively. He does not go to school, nor has he ever. He does not have an ID card, came here on a ´big´ bus, and reported that his boss has not threatened him. One man, Haiti-born and 34, is a street worker who currently lives in Puerta Plata. He sells paintings that he buys from other people. In Haiti, he went to school until age 21 when he graduated from University.. He does not have a boss, and came to the DR voluntarily with a business partner. He has his ID card. Some days he makes money, while other days are not profitable. Because of his proximity to and frequent encounters with the street children, he is a trusted source of information for PATH. When inquired about domestic slaves, he mentioned that he did not know of any.. He does, however, know of an estimated fifty children that work the streets of Puerta Plata. He mentioned that he knows that some people will buy the children and bring them to Puerta Plata to work. At this interval in the interview, Father Dale Johnson recounts a story that this same man had told him regarding an abduction of a young Haitian girl. The twelve year-old was abducted from the street, had her hands bound by rope and her mouth duct taped. The police were soon notified, but yelled at the girl rather than putting their attention on the kidnappers. Another Dominican man, aged 55, sells mahogany boxes to tourists. He does not have a boss, went to school in the past and now sells mahogany boxes. He stated that each day varies- some days are more profitable than others, earning upwards of $1,000 RD pesos. He also watches out for the street kids. When asked if the boys are ever beaten by their jefes, he replied affirmatively and indicated towards his body. One time he had tried to help the boys out and got beat as well. The jefes are usually mad because the kids have not earned their goal money for the day. He stated that POLITUR, the Dominican police for tourists, have been known to arrest the street kid workers. The last of the men to be questioned at this location was a 48-year-old Dominican man, physically-disabled and gets around on crutches.. He makes his living by begging on the streets for about three to four hours a day. He knows of three kids in particular that are domestic workers, children ranging from ages 5 to 12. They clean clothes and plates, as well as cook dinner. They work during the day, go to school at night and live with their parents. The wages they earn from working at the houses goes to their parents. SURVEY TWO Jewelry store one block down from the beach-side resturant The owner of a business store, estimated age to be 38, was a former street kid. In telling about his life, he mentioned that his family had made him attend school at nighttime after working the streets during the day. He has quite a few engineers in his large family. As far as his jewelry business is concerned, he serves a dual purpose- to keep the kids off of his doorstep where they could hinder business, but also to teach them about jewelry. In talking about POLITUR, he continued from what the previous man had said about child street kids being arrested. He further clarified saying that POLITUR´s job is to protect the tourists from robberies and rip-offs in which the street kids are sometimes accused of. SURVEY THREE Cofrantine, in front of the club Tipico Puerta Plata In this survey, two separate groups were questioned. The first group was a group of local streetworkers and the second, a couple of adults. Of the four street kids that were interviewed, three were Dominican and one was Haitian. Their ages were 12, 13, 14 and 16. Two were brothers, and all four live in Javillar. All are shoe shiners earning 10 pesos per shoe. During this interview, there were four men watching the questioning. None of the boys have a boss. One goes to school at La Cortatella, two do not, and one previously did. When asked, two of the boys said they could leave their job if the wanted. The other two were not asked this question. Three of the four boys have been working for a year, the fourth was not asked this question. The sixteen-year-old gives his money to his mom.. On a good day, he makes upwards of 200 pesos a day. None of the boys know of any domestic workers. All stated that none suffer abuse if they do not make wages from the day´s work. Also, they stated that they only know of each other that work the streets in shining shoes. Of the two that were asked, only the sixteen-year-old has his birth papers, while the twelve-year old does not. The fourteen year-old was asked if he had his ID card in which he replied negatively. Neither he nor the thirteen year-old were asked about their birth papers. Of the two boys that have been in school, both have been in school for at least four years, with the fourteen year-old in school for half a year longer. The second survey done in this same location involved a Dominican male, 30 years old; and a Dominican female, 40 and a worker in the snack area across from Tipico Puerta Plata. The two were interviewed about Tipico Puerta Plata and of what occurs there at nighttime. The man said that this place has been there for about four years, and is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The hours of operation are 6am to 2am. The man also stated that the owner of Tipico Puerta Plata is a male, aged 50. He also mentioned three women who are regular workers there, and have a boss that they pay. He mentioned that the jefe gets 10,000 pesos for the women but whether it was the jefe of the three women, or the owner is uncertain; as well as the fact that whether is was the wages of the three women or all the women working there. He also informed that the women do not life with their jefe, but rather, inside their own houses. He also stated that the no girls are sold there. If the women do not make their wages for the night, they suffer abuse such as being punched in the face. The women are ages ranging from twenty to thirty. When asked about another business similar to Tipico Puerta Plata, the man wrote down on the interview sheet, a place called Cubacana. The woman affirmed the same things that the man has said, occasionally inserting information aobut the place when the man did not know and had questioned her. When interviewed, she had this to add: thirteen women work at this place, but ten are voluntary workers. The other three women have a boss. When inquired, the woman informed that if the men want sex with the women, then they go to another location to do so. FOURTH SURVEY Super Cabana Hollywood When walking into Super Cabana Hollywood, this interviewer saw two adult females on the left side of the building next to a bowl of free condoms. A male around the ages of 25-35 was briefly questioned about the cabanas. He stated that both poor and rich men come here. They pay prices ranging from $320 to $400 Dominican pesos, depending on the styles of the room. Each room is available in four hour slots. At the time the interview was done, three cabanas out of twenty five were counted to have cars in the garages. When asked, the men said that the women that come here are either prostitutes, a girlfriend or the wife of the men. Father Dale Johnson also inserted a tidbit of information about the cabanas: He mentioned that the former president of the Dominican Republic, from the White Partido had created forty cabanas with money given from the Chinese government. FIFTH SURVEY A side street from Calle Avenida Sadhala Santiago, Dominican Republic Three street kids were interviewed. There was one Haitian and two Dominicans. The Haitian does not have a boss and lives in Santiago with his mother, with whom he crosses the Haitian- Dominican border with at age 11. He does not have a ID card but has birth papers back in Haiti. He occasionally goes to school, and can make 300 pesos on a good day. He workes all day, and later, gives his money to his mother. He does not know any domestic workers nor of any trafficked victims. He would like to be a car mechanic. The two Dominican boys, ages 11 and 13 are also shoe shiners. The two have a lot in common- they both live in Santiago, do not know any street kids with jefes, go to school, can leave their job if they want, have birth papers and do not know of any domestic workers. Both, like the previous boy to be interviewed, give their money to their mother. They occasionally make sometimes 50 up to 200 pesos on a good day. When asked what they would like to do when they are older, the thirteen year-old said that he wants to be a boxer, and the eleven year-old wants to be a gardener.

Posted by: dominicanoutreach | July 28, 2009

Free Legal Aid?

The following is a case study we looked at in our workshop the other day. What say you?

Trafficking is a crime against the individual. Smuggling is a crime against the State. When an officer of the law or social worker is faced with the following case:

Carlita has three children working for her in the house and begging and selling candy in the streets of San Marcos and Puerto Plata.. The children are from Haiti and have no identity papers. The children bring home about 100 pesos a day. When asked what she does with the money she says that she uses it to send her child to a private school. When asked if the children working for her as domestic labor go to school she tells us that they do not.

What should the officer do? Charge the woman with human trafficking or arrest the children as illegal migrants and send them back to Haiti? In a recent training of local police in a workshop on Human Trafficking 100% of the police said emphatically “arrest the children and send them back to Haiti.” They saw no reason to arrest the woman. It was not a human trafficking issue but an issue of illegal economic migration.

In talking to other interested stakeholders it emerged that the children should have some rights. At the very least the State should have the right to sue the woman on behalf of the children and who was employing them for domestic labor. Now this would be an interesting case where the State (CONANI) would be defending the rights of children who are not citizens of the Dominican Republic. Is the State, the Dominican Republic, obligated as a signatory of international treaty for the rights of all children within their territory, citizens or not, to defend the rights of these children?

An outcome of the workshop is that legal services should be made available to victims of human trafficking to help sort out issues like this. For adults in the sex trafficking trade we have interviewed, they would like to know their rights but feel they do not have access to legal counsel. Would it not be interesting to set up a free legal aid office in Puerto Plata or Sosua and test some of these issues?


Posted by: dominicanoutreach | July 28, 2009

OAS Training

OAS will train Jamaican Consular Officers to combat human trafficking

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WASHINGTON – The Department of Public Security (DPS) of the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security (SMS) of the Organization of American States (OAS) is currently implementing the “Training Institutes of Foreign Affairs on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children” Program.

As part of this program, a 2-day training seminar will take place in Kingston, Jamaica, on July 15th and 16th, 2009 to train Jamaican consular officers in the prevention and identification of human trafficking cases and the protection of victims.

The training aspires to build specific competencies in consular officials, as well as officers from other ministries involved in the fight against human trafficking: the first is to increase understanding of the crime of trafficking in persons within a human rights framework so that consular officials are better equipped to offer victim protection.

In addition, participants will be trained to understand the difference between trafficking and smuggling, better appreciate the causes of trafficking in persons (particularly emphasizing vulnerable populations) and learn how to recognize victims.

Finally, participants will become familiar with the various forms of exploitation (sexual exploitation, slavery, etc.) and determine the kind of assistance that might be required.

At the conclusion of the seminar, copies of the training materials specifically developed by the DPS for this program will be given to the authorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Jamaica so that future generations of consular officers can be trained on the issue of trafficking in persons.

It is further expected that this program will serve to improve international cooperation and coordination among the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in the Latin American and Caribbean region. To date over 450 participants from Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti have been trained through his program

Posted by: dominicanoutreach | July 1, 2009

Prayer for Abolitionists

May God bless you with anger
at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people
so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears
to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in the world
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

– Franciscan Benediction

Posted by: dominicanoutreach | June 29, 2009

Traffick Report: Rep. Dom.

Dominican Outreach Human Trafficking Conference

Dominican Outreach completed a successful Human Trafficking Conference over the course of two days in Puerto Plata, on June 24-25th. An NGO from Jarabacoa came to visit projects and other groups who are working to stop the trafficking of women and children in the Dominican Republic. Conference participants visited the American Consulate, a Women’s Training facility, the local prison, the public hospital, police stations, and a microcredit office. These are all places and programs that have contact and interest in the issue of modern day slavery.

At the conference we heard from women who have been lured to other countries with false promises only to be trapped into a system of sexual slavery. A recovering victim told us her story how she was lured to Greece for six years to work as a prostitute. It is estimated that there are between 17-33 thousand Dominican women who have similar stories. This type of trafficking is the second largest international crime in the world behind drug trafficking.

We also heard from a panel of women who work in Dominican bars at night under contract for a year at a time. Owners control the women by holding their passports, identity cards, or threaten their families back home.

Not all human trafficking is sexual. Children are trafficked as domestic labor. This is perhaps a larger problem. To illustrate this issue which may affect about 50,000 on this island we also heard from a young man from Haiti who was brought here to sell candy and shine shoes in the streets. He worked for several years for a man who told him that money was being sent home to his family. This was not true. He worked for years never going to school, often not having a place to sleep at night, and being threatened by police by day.

Father Johnson of Dominican Outreach, reported on recent census work monitoring the various kinds of human trafficking. He told of a woman in San Marcos who “bought” three children from Haiti who work to earn money for her. She was asked what she does with the money. She reported that she uses it to send her child to a private school. She was further asked if the Haitian children go to school. She said, “No, they are just Haitians.”

All the victims spoke of being arrested multiple times. A bar owner and a security person who manages many of these women reported that the owners are not arrested because protitution is not illegal. To them it is a labor issue when women try to run away or not show up for work. Yet it is these owners who are actually the instigators and source of these problems. Nevertheless these bar owners who trade women are supportive of social services for their employees and have seen the benefit of Dominican Outreach for their employees. One owner offered us his place of business to interview a panel of women.

The second day of the conference we vistited a jail where women are held in confinement with male prisoners. There is no food, water, or even beds in these jails: just a concrete cell with metal bars. Because the women are working in a city where they do not have family they depend on friends and organizations who assist with food, medicine, and social intervention. The women are arrested for trying to leave the business but more often than not they do not have enough money to pay people “shaking them down” in the streets.

The head of a children’s NGO (Esperanza Means Hope)  reported that she runs a home for dozens of these exploited children in the street. Most of them are Haitian. She reported how the system works to traffick these children benefiting an entire underground system of adults who make money off this system.

The regional head of the public school told us how thousands of children in the school are affected by this system of human trafficking. Children show up at school reporting that their mothers have disappeared. Children will often move around with their mothers who are sold to bar owners in other cities affecting their educational outcome. All the women interviewed during the panel discussion reported having between 1`-6 children. The superintendent of public schools invited members of the conference to develop materials to help train teachers to identify the signs of children affected by human trafficking.

The manager of a microfinance office shared with us a pilot program they have for victims of sexual trafficking. They begin with Bible studies to help the women inspect their lives. After they show signs of positive change they are invited to be part of larger women’s groups who provide them emotional support. After a period of time they participate in a women owned and managed business supported by microcredit.

Also the police will need training in this area and be encouraged to apply the law according to international standards.

Conference participants agreed to establish a national network of information. Consulate officials encouraged and welcomed the promise of information and data to measure this important issue.

Posted by: dominicanoutreach | June 23, 2009

US Trafficking Report on Dominican Republic


The Dominican Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Dominican women are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Panama, Slovenia, Suriname, Switzerland, Turkey, and Venezuela. A significant number of women, boys, and girls are trafficked within the country for forced prostitution and domestic servitude. In some cases, parents push children into prostitution to help support the family. Child sex tourism is a problem, particularly in coastal resort areas, with child sex tourists arriving year-round from various countries, particularly Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada, and the United States and reportedly numbering in the thousands . Haitian nationals, including children, who voluntarily migrate illegally to the Dominican Republic may subsequently be subjected to forced labor in the service, construction, and agriculture sectors.

The Government of the Dominican Republic does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these overall significant efforts, the government did not show evidence of progress in prosecuting and punishing trafficking offenders including complicit officials; therefore, the Dominican Republic is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The Dominican government increased its efforts to educate the public about the dangers of trafficking, improved its assistance to victims, announced a national plan to combat trafficking and took some disciplinary action against lower-level officials suspected of complicity in trafficking activity.

Recommendations for the Dominican Republic: Intensify efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking offenders, especially public officials complicit in or facilitating human trafficking; increase investigations into potential labor trafficking situations; continue to increase victim assistance and shelter services; provide greater legal protections for undocumented and foreign trafficking victims; increase prevention and demand-reduction efforts; intensify efforts to identify and care for all trafficking victims; and continue to increase anti-trafficking training for government and judicial officials.

The government modestly increased law-enforcement efforts against some trafficking offenders, and began to investigate and punish lower-level public officials for complicity in trafficking activity over the last year. Dominican law prohibits all forms of trafficking through its comprehensive anti-trafficking Law 137-03, which prescribes penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave offenses, such as rape. In 2008, the government continued several trafficking investigations. Since 2007, there have been no convictions on trafficking charges under Law 137-03, but the government made a greater effort during the year to differentiate between alien smuggling and human trafficking crimes, which are prohibited under the same law and are often confused. Although the Government initiated an investigation into press reports from 2007 that high-level officials were directly involved in the smuggling and trafficking of Chinese nationals, it demonstrated no progress on this investigation during 2008. Lack of resources, corruption, and generally weak rule of law limit the government’s ability to address trafficking issues, and allegations of official complicity in trafficking continued. No senior officials were investigated or prosecuted; since August 2008, however, 45 inspectors from the Migration Directorate were removed from their positions for possible involvement in trafficking. Five of these former inspectors are under active investigation and two are in preventative detention. Other lower-level officials have been suspended or disciplined. During the reporting period, the government cooperated with U.S. law enforcement agencies and contributed to an international case involving the trafficking of Dominican women to Switzerland. As many trafficking victims enter the island with legitimate documents through regular ports of entry, IOM and the Office of the Undersecretary for Consular and Migratory Affairs trained migration inspectors on detecting false and altered documents, inspection of travel documents and visas, detecting imposters, and differentiating between smuggling clients and trafficking victims.

The government improved its efforts to protect trafficking victims, although it continued to rely heavily on NGOs and international organizations for the bulk of shelter and protection services offered to victims. The Comite Inter-institucional de Proteccion a la Mujer Migrante, in cooperation with the Ministry for Women and an NGO, offered victims legal and psychological assistance. The government contributed funds to a religious order which assisted trafficking victims at its refugee centers around the country. IOM also used these facilities to assist victims. An NGO operated El Centro de Acogida, a center for repatriated Dominican trafficked women, which provided medical and legal services, employment assistance, and continued education. Shelters for child trafficking victims were run by the Consejo Nacional para la Ninez y la Adolescencia, a government agency. The Dominican Criminal Procedure Code contains mechanisms for the protection of witnesses and victims, though these protections were largely limited to victims who were willing to testify in court proceedings. Victims’ rights were generally respected once they were recognized as victims, and they were not typically jailed or penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Dominican authorities encouraged victims to assist with the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. Victims without identity documents or in illegal status generally had difficulty accessing protective services. Out of a group of 14 trafficked Ecuadorian women, one remained in the Dominican Republic to help police with the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. Victims and traffickers sometimes struck deals, usually via their attorneys, whereby victims received compensation from their traffickers in lieu of pursuing a criminal case. The government trained consular officials posted abroad to recognize and assist Dominican nationals trafficked overseas. The government did not provide foreign victims with clear legal alternatives to their removal, but even so it did not remove them to countries where they face retribution. In one case it provided long-term residency.

The government continued to increase its prevention efforts during the year. The inter-agency National Commission Against Trafficking announced its national action plan in December 2008. The Prevention Unit of the Department of Alien Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons, working with the Ministries of Labor and Education, warned children at schools around the country of the dangers of alien smuggling, commercial sexual exploitation, and trafficking. The Attorney General, Migration Directorate, Navy, Secretary of State for Women, and Programa Radial also ran anti-trafficking information campaigns. Notices now posted in Santo Domingo’s international airport list the penalties under Dominican law for the criminal offense of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Prostitution of adults is legal, though police raided brothels as a means to address demand for commercial sex acts with children and to look for underage girls engaging in prostitution. The government also made efforts to reduce demand for commercial sexual acts by prosecuting foreign pedophiles for sexually exploiting minors.

Posted by: dominicanoutreach | June 23, 2009

Conference Agenda – Puerto Plata, Rep. Dom


June 25, 2009

Puerto Plata, Bonsai Hostel, C. JFK #41

Host: Dominican Outreach

Subject: NGO participation in prevention, monitoring, and providing comprehensive solutions to Human Trafficking in the Dominican Republic

Welcome: Father Johnson (3 minutes)

Introduction of guests: (15 minutes)

Presentation by the Honorable Ted Foster (10 minutes)

Question and answer period (10 minutes)

Presentation by Father Johnson (10 minutes)

Question and Answer period (10 minutes)

Proposals for Action plan

Announcements for future meetings


25 de junio de 2009 Puerto Plata, Bonsai Hostel, Calle JFK #41

  1. Anfitrión: Outreach Dominicano

  1. Tema: Participación del NGO en la prevención, la supervisión, y el abastecimiento de soluciones comprensivas al tráfico humano en la República Dominicana

  1. Recepción: Padre Johnson (3 minutos)

  2. Introducción de huéspedes: (15 minutos)

  3. Presentación del Ted Foster (10 minutos)

  4. Período de la pregunta y de la respuesta (10 minutos)

  5. Presentación de Father Johnson (10 minutos)

  6. Período de la pregunta y de la respuesta (10 minutos)

  7. Ofertas para el plan de actuación Avisos para las reuniones futuras

Posted by: dominicanoutreach | June 23, 2009

Human Trafficking Conference

Conferencia en el tráfico humano en la República Dominicana a le invita a una reunión el Viernes, 26 de junio, en 10 de la manana en el Bonzai Hostel, Calle John F. Kenney #41, que discuta un informe reciente. Oiga lo que están haciendo los varios NGOs para ejecutar recomendaciones de El departamento de estado de Estados Unidos . También habrá un viaje de varios proyectos en Puerto Plata y testimonios al lado de un panel de los hombres y de las mujeres dominicanos que han sido víctimas del tráfico humano.

You are invited to a meeting on Thursday, June 26, at 10 am at Bonzai Hostel to discuss a recent report by the United States State Department on Human Trafficking in the Dominican Republic. Hear what various NGOs are doing to implement recommendations.

Also there will be a tour of various projects in Puerto Plata on Friday and testimonies by a panel of Dominican men and women who have been victims of Human Trafficking.