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The Caribbean Takes Action to Combat Human Trafficking

Santo Domingo, September 15, 2023. The duality of tourism as a socio-economic activity is evident in some Caribbean countries, which, on one hand, are vacation paradises that attract millions of people, but on the other hand, this high passenger traffic puts a certain population group at risk, which could be vulnerable to human trafficking for sexual exploitation and labor exploitation primarily.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Central America and the Caribbean (UNODC), under the "Transforming Alerts into Criminal Justice Responses to Trafficking in Persons within Migration Flows" (TRACK4TIP) project, is working in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, and Aruba to address this challenge and strengthen the criminal justice responses to cases of human trafficking within migration flows. The project has a victim-centered approach with actions aimed at identifying, preventing, and prosecuting this crime.
In the Dominican Republic, UNODC has partnered with AERODOM, a private company that manages six airports in the country, and with the NGO, the International Justice Mission to improve the identification of cases and enhance the referral mechanisms for these cases.
Thanks to this agreement, approximately 150 agents from various entities working at the airports in Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata have been trained to recognize human trafficking indicators, defining protocols to handle such situations.
In this context, UNODC, through its TRACK4TIP initiative, provided support for the design of a human trafficking reference guide that offers fundamental concepts about this crime and practical information on detection and identification processes and their respective indicators. It includes resources for migration authorities to identify potential trafficking victims, instructions for training airport personnel, and for promoting helplines and victim assistance.
Lissette Reyes, an expert on human trafficking and officer of UNODC's TRACK4TIP project, stressed that “multisectoral partnerships are a fundamental part of global efforts to combat human trafficking. At UNODC, through TRACK4TIP, we are pleased to be part of partnerships of this nature that seek to improve the justice response to trafficking cases.”

Trinidad and Tobago
Since 2020, UNODC TRACK4TIP has been present in Trinidad and Tobago, working with authorities to improve the regional criminal justice response to human trafficking.
In collaboration with the Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU) of the Ministry of Security in the country, an Internal Operating Procedure has been developed, providing guidelines for timely responses to trafficking cases. The document promotes synergies among different actors, such as the Human Trafficking Unit and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, leading to a more efficient response to trafficking cases. The document was presented after multiple consultations and working sessions with the Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU).
This Internal Operating Procedure offers guidance when a potential trafficking case is identified and promotes coherence in the Unit's responses to maximize efforts and efficiency in combating human trafficking. Furthermore, it facilitates interinstitutional coordination by establishing communication channels among various sectors involved in the fight against this crime.
The Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds, emphasized the importance of international partners in national efforts against human trafficking and stated that the development of this Internal Operating Procedure reflects the cooperation with international partners.
Lissette Reyes expressed that "TRACK4TIP aims to strengthen national mechanisms, so the launch of this Internal Operating Procedure represents a positive outcome of national-level cooperation. It is also a testament to the commitment of national authorities in the fight against human trafficking. UNODC is committed to continue supporting member states in their fight against human trafficking."

In Aruba, UNODC has worked to enhance the response capacity of law enforcement officials by offering practical workshops on specific topics, such as interviewing techniques for victims of human trafficking cases, crime investigation, and regional cooperation tools.
Human trafficking seriously violates human rights and is one of the most lucrative and rapidly growing crimes in the world. According to the 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report prepared by UNODC, 71% of the detected victims in Central America and the Caribbean are for sexual exploitation, and 21% are for forced labor. In the same region, the majority of detected victims for sexual exploitation are women (34%) and girls (55%).
The actions of TRACK4TIP are made possible with the support of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (JTIP Office) of the United States Department of State. The project is implemented in eight countries in South America and the Caribbean with national and regional actions in Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, and Aruba.