Trafficking In Persons Report 2023 (TIP)

Report,Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP)

The US State Department published her TIP report 2023 yesterday and upgraded Aruba to Tier 2.

ARUBA (Tier 2)*

The Government of Aruba does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.  The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Aruba was upgraded to Tier 2.  These efforts included identifying and providing support services to more trafficking victims; increasing screening of vulnerable populations, which led to nine potential victim referrals; and establishing a permanent contract for the Coordination Center on Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling (CMMA) project manager, increasing the role’s stability.  The government launched several awareness-raising campaigns, including a new academic curriculum for secondary students; it also increased staffing for the Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Unit (UMM).  The government- funded and completed the renovation of an existing structure to create sleeping, living, and staff spaces at the site of its planned mixed-use shelter, but the shelter did not open in 2022.  However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.  The government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers for the fourth consecutive year and lacked an effective protocol for victim referral and service provision.  Key anti-trafficking institutions did not coordinate fully, hindering the prosecution of trafficking crimes.


  • Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, which should involve significant prison terms.
  • Proactively identify victims among all vulnerable groups, including women in commercial sex, detained migrants, domestic workers, and migrants working in construction, supermarkets, and retail.
  • Train law enforcement officials, prosecutors, judges, coast guard officers, and labor inspectors on victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches to trafficking cases.
  • Formalize and fund CMMA as a permanent institution.
  • Decouple victim identification and assistance procedures from the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes and empower non-law enforcement officials to designate trafficking victims as such.
  • Operationalize the multipurpose shelter for victims of crimes, including human trafficking.
  • Establish comprehensive guidelines for victim identification, referral, and service provision.
  • Improve coordination and information-sharing between law enforcement and prosecutors, and with anti-trafficking counterparts across the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
  • Promote awareness of human trafficking, as distinct from migrant smuggling, through trafficking-specific materials and campaigns.


The government maintained uneven prosecution efforts.  Article 2:239 of the penal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to eight years’ imprisonment or a fine for crimes involving a victim 16 years of age or older and up to 12 years’ imprisonment or a fine for those involving a victim younger than the age of 16.  These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as kidnapping.  A draft amendment to increase the penalties prescribed in the anti-trafficking statute, drafted in 2020, remained pending at the end of the reporting period.

In 2022, the government reported initiating three active investigations, all for sex trafficking, compared with one investigation in 2021; authorities continued to investigate one forced labor case, initiated in a previous reporting period.  The precision of government reporting improved in 2022, better distinguishing between initial reports of potential trafficking crimes (23 in 2022 and 17 in 2021), preliminary investigations (six in 2022 and seven in 2021), and active investigations (three in 2022 and one in 2021).  Officials did not report prosecuting or convicting any traffickers for the fourth consecutive year.  Authorities continued to prosecute one labor trafficking case involving two suspects, initiated in 2018; prosecutors reported an unresolved mutual legal assistance request to a foreign government prevented the case from progressing.  The government did not report investigating, prosecuting, or convicting any government employees complicit in trafficking crimes.  The government increased staffing from three to seven officers at its Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Unit (UMM), a joint unit comprising law enforcement officials from the Aruban Police Force and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee ; UMM led trafficking investigations in close coordination with the general prosecutor’s office.  A steering committee composed of senior police and prosecutors assessed the viability of potential investigations for all crimes and referred trafficking cases to the UMM for investigation; prior to steering committee referral, law enforcement could not actively investigate trafficking-related incidents unless a victim filed the initial report or was at risk of harm.  Another interdisciplinary police unit (JIUMM), composed of three officers, conducted passive, preliminary investigations into possible trafficking crimes, including tips from the hotline or other law enforcement entities, and presented them to the steering committee.  Observers reported the steering committee’s evaluation weighed official capacity limitations against the likelihood of eventual conviction, which disincentivized referral of trafficking cases, considered especially labor-intensive by prosecutors; the same observers expressed concern this process may have prevented the active investigation of trafficking cases during the reporting period.  JIUMM referred one preliminary investigation to the steering committee, compared with zero in 2021; the steering committee did not authorize JIUMM’s referral for active investigation.  However, UMM directly investigated three cases due to concerns for victim safety.  The public prosecutor’s office had an internal protocol for the prosecution of trafficking cases and designated one of its eight prosecutors to oversee trafficking cases.  Some observers suggested coordination challenges between the JIUMM, UMM, and national prosecutor’s office negatively impacted efforts to hold traffickers accountable.

The government reported it trained law enforcement, labor inspectors, and border control officials on victim identification and referral.  While law enforcement and government officials with trafficking-specific assignments distinguished between human trafficking and migrant smuggling, observers expressed concern some non-specialized officials, such as frontline police officers, had an inadequate understanding of trafficking; across the government, Aruba addressed human trafficking and migrant smuggling via the same institutions, possibly contributing to conflation of the crimes.  Many officials carried “Quick Reference Cards” (QRCs), distributed at trafficking trainings, that included a list of trafficking indicators and CMMA’s contact information.  Aruban authorities participated in one multinational anti-trafficking operation, although the government did not report any arrests or victims identified in connection with the effort.


The government increased protection efforts.  The government reported identifying six trafficking victims – four confirmed and one presumed sex trafficking victims and one presumed labor trafficking victim – in 2022, compared with one trafficking victim – a presumed labor trafficking victim – in 2021.  Of the six victims identified, all were foreign nationals: four Colombian women, one German woman, and one Colombian man.  The government classified victims as “potential,” “presumed,” or “confirmed” victims; potential victims were typically associated with early-stage investigations and could not access support services, which the government only provided to presumed or confirmed victims.  JIUMM and UMM could assign presumed status to potential victims; only UMM could confer confirmed status.  These entities screened nine individuals initially assessed as potential victims of trafficking in 2022; by comparison, they screened fourteen potential victims, seven of whom did not receive presumed status, in 2021.  The government reported civil society organizations facilitated the identification of and support for most victims in 2022; CMMA developed and implemented a new referral form to standardize this process.  Victims identified through civil society organizations could remain anonymous during the government’s preliminary investigation.  The government referred five victims to services in 2022, compared with one victim in 2021 and none in 2020.  CMMA furnished in-kind support and coordinated with civil society organizations to provide medical care, legal support, and social services for trafficking victims; the government maintained informal agreements with local NGOs and private sector accommodations to shelter adult and child trafficking victims.  Through these arrangements, the government could secure emergency short-term and, for adult female victims, longer-term shelter.  In 2022, the government provided short-term shelter for one adult female victim at a civil society facility.  The government drafted, but did not finalize in 2022, terms to formalize these agreements with shelter providers.  There were no trafficking-specific shelters and officials reported shelter restrictions sometimes made it difficult to place certain victims, such as those with drug dependencies.  Authorities could place unaccompanied child victims in foster care, and NGOs or local churches could accommodate adult male victims, although they did not do so in 2022.  Officials conducted risk assessments before deciding whether victims could leave shelters unchaperoned; they restricted victims’ movement if their lives were threatened.

Authorities reported all five victims supported investigations into alleged trafficking crimes, compared with no victims participating in investigations or prosecutions in 2021.  The government tied victims’ status and access to services to the associated criminal case against a trafficker.  If prosecutors determined not to pursue trafficking charges, the government discontinued services for associated victims.  Observers expressed concern that the link between victim assistance and the status of criminal proceedings against traffickers limited victims’ access to critical services.  The government could deploy a multidisciplinary team of police, labor officers, immigration officials, and civil society representatives when investigations called for operations or site visits.  The anti-trafficking task force (TMMA) continued to provide law enforcement and social services officials with a checklist of the most common signs of trafficking, which they used in concert with the QRCs.  The government reported officials screened undocumented migrants, individuals in commercial sex, and other vulnerable groups for trafficking indicators; officials referred nine potential victims to JIUMM through screening efforts.  Observers, however, expressed concern migrant detention center staff and other officials were insufficiently equipped to identify trafficking. The government had a basic victim referral mechanism; observers expressed concern the mechanism was unclear and could re-traumatize victims, citing an instance where a victim participating in a law enforcement investigation rescinded her support and left the country following repetitive interviews and frequent changes in housing.  CMMA reported it continued to draft a comprehensive SOP governing victim identification, referral, and service provision with the support of an international organization; it had not adopted the SOP by the end of the reporting period.  The government reported informally implementing some elements of the draft SOP; one identified victim benefited from a new 48-hour reflection period through this effort.  CMMA’s civil society working group met monthly throughout the reporting period.  The government reported it renovated an existing structure to create sleeping, living, and staff spaces at the site of its planned mixed-use shelter; the shelter did not open in 2022, pending furnishings for the renovated spaces and the construction of a second multi-purpose structure.

The law provided foreign victims the same protections as Arubans.  The law authorized the extension of temporary residency status and work permit, valid for three to six months, for foreign victims on a case-by-case basis.  The government did not provide temporary residency to any victims in 2022 or 2021; under current policies, foreign victims not participating in the trials against traffickers returned to their home countries, except when a safe return was not possible.  The criminal code enabled victims to receive restitution during criminal proceedings or to file civil suits, to seek compensation not to exceed 50,000 florin ($27,780) for financial and emotional damages, although none did so in 2022.  The Bureau of Victim Assistance operated a hotline for potential victims of all crimes, including trafficking; the government reported fielding one trafficking-related call to the hotline, which led to the identification of one victim, compared with three calls in 2021 and eight in 2020.


The government slightly increased prevention efforts.  The National Coordinator on Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling, a police official, continued to lead the government’s anti-trafficking efforts, with support from the TMMA and CMMA.  All three entities had dual responsibility for both anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling efforts.  The government did not allocate funding specifically for anti-trafficking efforts in its annual budget.  However, it financed anti-trafficking efforts by incorporating trafficking-specific initiatives into its proposals for long-term, Kingdom-funded projects on border control and mass migration; through these grants, the government reported securing approximately 685,000 florin ($380,040) for anti-trafficking initiatives through 2028.  Authorities continued to implement the 2018-2022 NAP with funding tied to Kingdom-wide projects.  The government drafted and proposed a 2023-2024 NAP; the Minister of Justice had not yet approved the draft plan at the end of the reporting period.  CMMA reported formalizing its project manager position, securing funding and a recurring two-year contract for its only dedicated staff member.  The CMMA’s proposal to formalize its own institutional status remained pending at the conclusion of the reporting period.  The national coordinator reported collaborating with national anti-trafficking coordinators from Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten to revise the MOU outlining coordinated anti-trafficking efforts across the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the governments did not finalize the draft MOU before the end of the reporting period.

Officials raised awareness of human trafficking and the hotline in multiple languages via social media, posters, and flyers.  The government continued its 2021 awareness campaign to inform migrants of numerous risks, including trafficking.  The government produced a short curriculum on the risks of human trafficking, online sexual exploitation, and migrant smuggling for school-age children, which it distributed to secondary schools across Aruba.  CMMA launched a new website in 2022, created a new awareness and outreach program for individuals in commercial sex, and began producing a second short film on undocumented migrants’ vulnerability to trafficking; CMMA also coordinated with an international organization to host a trafficking awareness training for journalists to improve trafficking-related reporting in local media.  The government collaborated with an international organization to create a Spanish-language version of the QRC for distribution among vulnerable groups; it also began working on an English translation of the product.  The government provided trafficking-awareness training to government officials from law enforcement, the judiciary, and other ministries, as well as civil society; the CMMA also trained officials on the responsibilities of the CMMA, TMMA, and UMM.  The government primarily conducted virtual awareness-raising activities, including social media campaigns and webinars; it opened most of these events to officials from neighboring countries.

Officials had procedures to screen adult entertainers and reported performing an unspecified number of inspections at adult entertainment venues in 2022.  Kingdom of the Netherlands policy required individuals on adult entertainment visas, primarily Colombian women, to meet with consular officers to ensure the applicants knew their rights and had a copy of their work agreement before picking up required documents at a Kingdom of the Netherlands embassy.  Upon arrival, such visa recipients normally received information about their rights, risks, and resources.  The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.


As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Aruba.  Traffickers exploit Venezuelan women in sex trafficking and foreign adults of all genders in forced labor in Aruba’s service and construction industries.  Arriving Venezuelans commonly overstay their visas or arrive irregularly, leaving many without valid documentation and a corresponding increased risk for trafficking.  Families, business owners, and criminals exploit some of these Venezuelans in forced labor in domestic service, construction, and commercial sex, respectively; many domestic workers live at their employer’s home, increasing their vulnerability to trafficking.  Supermarket managers subject PRC-national men and women to forced labor in grocery stores; business owners and families subject Indian men to forced labor in the retail sector and domestic service, respectively; and Arubans force Caribbean and South American women into domestic servitude.  Officials reported instances of forced criminality, in which traffickers compel victims to commit unlawful acts, such as robberies and drug-related crimes.  Women in regulated and unregulated commercial sex, domestic workers, and employees of small retail shops are most at risk of trafficking; bar owners rent lodging to women on adult entertainment visas at rates disproportionate to their earnings, increasing their vulnerability to exploitation.

* Aruba is a semi-autonomous entity of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  For the purpose of this report, Aruba is not a “country” to which the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act apply.  This narrative reflects how Aruba would be assessed if it were a separate, independent country.  However, the Kingdom is an important contributor to the Government of Aruba’s anti-trafficking efforts.

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Source: US State department

Tags :
2023 TIP report,tier 2,trafficking in persons report
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