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Diploma for Investigative Specialists in Human Trafficking in the Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo, November 30, 2021. In a special ceremony held at a downtown hotel in the Dominican Republic, the Diploma for Investigation Specialists in Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation concluded, an ambitious capacity building project that trained 304 people, including 200 police officers, 25 prosecutors, judges, psychologists, social workers and members of civil society.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), through the TRACK4TIP Initiative, was part of this coordinated effort through the International Justice Mission, the National Police, the Attorney General's Office, the National Council for Children, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, among other organizations, thanks to the resources and support of the United States.

The table of honor at the closing ceremony was formed by Jatzel Román, Vice Minister of Migratory Affairs of Foreign Affairs; Yohana Bejaran, Head of the Specialized Prosecutor for Trafficking and Smuggling (PETT); Mercedes Ceballos, of the Ministry of Interior and Police; Mayrenis Cornielle, of the Ministry of Labor; Jatnna García, Political Officer of the U.S. Embassy and José Monteiro, country chief of the International Justice Mission.

"We have emphasized the importance of coordinated work in the fight against human trafficking; Coordinated work is the way to improve the criminal response to the crime, placing the victims at the center of our actions," said the TRACK4TIP Initiative Officer in Dominican Republic, Lissette Reyes, who congratulated each participant for completing the training program and echoing the role and mandate of UNODC in the fight against transnational organized crime "and that you continue to be the ones who lead the efforts to combat this crime in our country," she said.

José Monteiro, country head of the International Justice Mission in the Dominican Republic, who currently chairs the Civil Society Coalition against Trafficking in Persons, expressed his satisfaction with the process: "We are not celebrating the conclusion of the diploma course, but the beginning of many necessary actions to continue fighting human trafficking, a crime that seriously affects the most vulnerable groups, also in the Dominican Republic, where women and girls are the main victims of this crime," he said. 

In addition, José Monteiro thanked the support received by the government and UNODC and took the opportunity to highlight the important role of civil society in the fight against human trafficking, but, above all, in the assistance and protection of victims.

The Diploma offered participants the possibility of a double certification: to enable police training and training of trainers with the aim of motivating the multiplication of knowledge and also to expand the technical-theoretical bases with updates in the near future.

"We are sure that from this training we will be true partners of transformation, with attentive eyes and ears towards criminal phenomena that devastate lives. We hope that this diploma course will be followed by many more in order to counteract any kind of exploitation of human lives, especially of women and our children," said Licurgo Cruz of the Santiago de los Caballeros Police.

The Dominican Republic is a country of origin, transit and destination for human trafficking.  According to an annual report issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX), during 2020, 83 victims of human trafficking were identified, of which 42 were adults and 41 were minors. As described in the report prepared by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and in line with the MIREX report, the investigations and modality with the highest trend identified in the country is that of sexual exploitation, which is why the Diploma is of utmost importance and relevance to continue supporting government efforts to identify and combat this crime.   

About the TRACK4TIP Program
TRACK4TIP is a three-year initiative (2019-2022), implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with support from the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons / JTIP.

The project benefits eight countries in South America and the Caribbean with national and regional actions in Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao and Aruba.

The overall objective of the project is to improve the regional criminal justice response to human trafficking in the migratory flows of the beneficiary countries through a multidisciplinary and victim-centered approach, with actions at the regional and national levels to identify, prevent and prosecute cases.

This press release was made possible with the support of the U.S. Department of State under the terms of Agreement No. SSJTIP19CA0027. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of State.