Thursday, September 28, 2006

2006 Report: Victims of Trafficking and Violence

2006 Report: Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000:
Trafficking in Persons Report

[...] CUBA (TIER 3)

Cuba is a source country for women and children trafficked for the
purposes of sexual exploitation and forced child labor. The nature and
extent of trafficking in the country is hard to gauge due to the closed
nature of the government and a lack of non-governmental reporting.1
However, Cuba is a major destination for sex tourism, which largely
caters to hundreds of thousands of European, Canadian, and Latin
American tourists.

Cuba's thriving sex trade involves large numbers of minors and there is
anecdotal evidence that state-run hotel workers, travel company
employees, taxicab drivers, bar and restaurant workers, and law
enforcement personnel are complicit in the commercial sexual
exploitation of these children. There are also reports that Cuban women
have been trafficked to Mexico for sexual exploitation, in addition to
unconfirmed reports that Cubans are forced to work as deckhands on
smuggling trips in order to pay off large smuggling debts. Cuban forced
labor victims also include children coerced into working in commercial

The Government of Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards
for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts
to do so. Information related to trafficking in Cuba is difficult to
obtain because the Government of Cuba will not publicly release
information and any attempt to engage the Government of Cuba is rebuffed
as politically motivated. To improve its efforts to combat trafficking,
the government should publicly acknowledge that trafficking occurs and
make efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict those who are
abusing women and children in the sex trade.


The government has no anti-trafficking law enforcement policy and there
were no investigations, arrests, prosecutions, or convictions of
traffickers over the period covered by this report. The Cuban penal code
provides penalties for trafficking-related crimes; however, the Cuban
Government does not provide information on the actual enforcement of
these laws. Article 302 of the Cuban penal code provides for penalties
ranging between four and 20 years for inducing or promoting
prostitution. Penalties are increased to 20 to 30 years if the act
involves facilitating a person's entry to or exit from the country.
Article 316 provides penalties of seven to 15 years' imprisonment for
the trafficking of minors. Cuba also has laws against forced labor and
sexual exploitation. Despite the presence of laws that may be used to
prosecute traffickers, it is not known if any such laws resulted in a
prosecution or a conviction during the reporting period. There were no
known investigations or prosecutions of public officials for complicity
in trafficking during the reporting period.


Cuban Government efforts to aid trafficking victims were not seen or
reported over the last year. Victims are punished for unlawful acts
committed as part of their being trafficked; women and children in
prostitution are occasionally sent to "reeducation" programs, and most
are sentenced to several years in prison. Furthermore, "rehabilitation
centers" for women and children engaged in prostitution (some of whom
may be trafficking victims) are not staffed with personnel who are
trained or equipped to adequately care for potential trafficking
victims. Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that such
rehabilitation centers are in fact the equivalent of prisons and do not
provide any necessary services to the women and children housed there.
There is no coordination on trafficking-related matters with
international organizations or NGOs operating in the country.


The government undertakes no information campaigns to prevent
trafficking for sexual exploitation, and does not officially admit that
Cuba has a trafficking problem. There are passing references to
trafficking-related issues in a National Action Plan for Youth and
Adolescents, but nothing specific regarding the prevention of
trafficking or how to address the growing numbers of children engaged in
prostitution in the country. The Cuban Government does not tolerate
independent NGOs and most are in fact operating under the direction of
the Cuban government.

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