Cuba needs new laws and stronger action targeting human trafficking – UN
21 April 2017 – A United Nations human rights expert has urged Cuba to
consider introducing new legislation to ensure that everyone who falls
victim to trafficking in persons can be identified and helped, and the
authorities can take action against offenders.
“Although cases of trafficking in the country may appear to be limited,
the number of criminal prosecutions and victims assisted is still too
modest, and shows that a proactive approach to detection of the problem
is needed,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons,
Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, wrapping up a five-day visit to Cuba.
Ms. Giammarinaro acknowledged the Government’s political will to address
human trafficking and appreciated its strong aim on prevention, while
underscoring that the protection of children from sexually motivated
crimes should be extended to everyone under 18 years old.
“The focus of Cuba’s anti-trafficking action so far has been sexual
exploitation. However, recent developments which have created new
opportunities for individual initiatives in the tourist sector require
vigilance to stamp out any cases of labour exploitation; the use of
foreign workers in the construction industry should also be monitored”
Based on a multi-disciplinary and coordinated approach to combat
trafficking, Ms. Giammarinaro welcomed Cuba’s 2017-2020 Action Plan to
prevent and fight against trafficking in persons and for protecting
victims, which had been approved just before her visit – the first by a
UN rights expert in 10 years.
“The real challenge will be the implementation of measures provided for
in the document, especially aimed at identifying and supporting victims,
while respecting their human rights” the Special Rapporteur said.
The UN expert praised Cuba’s universal and free systems for education,
healthcare and social security, saying they helped to reduce the
vulnerability of Cuban citizens to trafficking.
However, citing thousands who, in 2015, were exposed to trafficking and
exploitation, she said that migration in unsafe conditions created
situations that could lead to trafficking.
Ms. Giammarinaro spoke with a few of the survivors, who said that they
had signed apparently legal contracts and been promised good working
conditions abroad, “but, at their destination, their passports were
confiscated, and they found themselves in the hands of gangs determined
to exploit them for work without payment.”
“When efforts were made to force them into prostitution/sex work, the
women managed to communicate with their families in Cuba and were
rescued thanks to the immediate action of Cuban embassies. However, we
don’t know how many young women may have been obliged to stay in
exploitative situations abroad,” the expert said.
Ms. Giammarinaro called for the social stigma surrounding
prostitution/sex work to be removed, and for the closure of so-called
‘rehabilitation centres’ where women are detained even though
prostitution is not a crime.
“Any fear of being punished is a major obstacle for victims of
trafficking for sexual exploitation to report their plight and the abuse
they have suffered,” she stressed.
Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights
Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a
country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN
staff, nor are they paid for their work.
Source: United Nations News Centre – Cuba needs new laws and stronger
action targeting human trafficking – UN rights expert –