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IOM Welcomes First Conviction of Child Traffickers in Dominican Republic

Posted on Fri, Jun-08-2012
IOM has welcomed this week’s first ever conviction in the Dominican Republic of two child traffickers who received 15-year prison sentences for the smuggling, trafficking and labour exploitation of Haitian children in Santo Domingo.

"IOM is pleased to see justice served on these traffickers. We also recognize the good Samaritan act of a Dominican woman who, seeing the same three children begging on a street corner day after day, decided to intervene on their behalf and take them to a government-run shelter,” said IOM Santo Domingo Chief of Mission Cy Winter.

The traffickers were arrested in a raid by the Dominican authorities in the Los Alcarrizos neighbourhood of Santo Domingo in February 2011, during which 44 children were discovered and rescued. 

Twenty-two of the children were identified as victims of human trafficking and taken into Dominican custody.  They had been trafficked to the Dominican Republic to beg on the streets of Santo Domingo or to carry out menial labour.  All money they earned had been taken by their traffickers. 

IOM supported the Dominican authorities by providing food, clothing, medical and psycho-social care, recreational activities and transportation for all the rescued children. It also provided technical and operational assistance.

IOM Haiti then undertook family tracing to identify their biological families or legal guardians. The families were evaluated by IOM social workers to assess their needs and their ability and willingness to receive their children. Subsequently, a pre-return risk assessment was compiled for each child and reviewed in cooperation with the Haitian Child Protection Authorities (IBESR).

Following successful pre-return risk assessments, the children were subsequently moved by IOM from the Dominican Republic to Haiti, in cooperation with the Haitian Embassy in Santo Domingo and the Dominican and Haitian Migration and Child Protection Authorities.  

The 22 returned children and their families received reintegration support, including education and income generation assistance, as well as monitoring to ensure the sustainability of the returns. 

Over the past two years IOM Santo Domingo’s counter-trafficking work with Haitian children and adolescent victims of forced and exploitative labour and sexual exploitation has increased dramatically.   It has assisted over 60 male and female Haitian minors trafficked to the Dominican Republic.  

During the same period IOM has also helped nearly 100 Dominican victims of trafficking to return home from countries including Trinidad and Tobago, St. Martin, Haiti, Argentina, Morocco, Lebanon and Switzerland.  

IOM Santo Domingo’s counter trafficking projects are supported by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP).

For more information, please contact

Zoë Stopak-Behr
IOM Santo Domingo
Tel: 809 688 8174
Email: zstopak-behr@iom.int