The government maintained law enforcement efforts. The 2014 Anti-Trafficking (TIP) Law (No.CL/20140010) criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of seven to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine ranging from 200,000 to 1.5 million gourdes ($2,280 to $17,110), which were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The law provided for increased penalties of up to life imprisonment when the victim was a minor. Despite civil unrest affecting transportation, courtrooms, and offices, the government investigated nine trafficking cases involving 19 suspects during the reporting period, compared with nine trafficking cases in 2018 and two cases in 2017. The police Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM) reported investigating cases involving 33 defendants for forced labor of minors. The government initiated one prosecution for sex trafficking during the reporting period, compared with seven prosecutions in 2018 and two prosecutions in 2017. The government did not report any convictions during the reporting period, although the conviction of a trafficker in March 2019 for sex trafficking of a minor previously unaccounted for was reported. The court sentenced the trafficker to 15 years’ imprisonment and ordered him to pay a fine of 100,000 gourdes ($1,140) at the end of the prior reporting period. The government reported six convictions in 2019 and one conviction in 2017. The Border Police Force arrested 51 individuals suspected in 35 trafficking cases during the reporting period.
Observers reported allegations that judicial officials in border jurisdictions, such as justices of the peace, sometimes took bribes to free detained suspected human traffickers, which contributed to an environment where traffickers largely operated with impunity. While there were no reported cases of official complicity, immunity for high officials and difficulty in initiating prosecutions against lower ranking public officials would make it difficult to prosecute complicit officials. The outdated penal and criminal procedural code continued to delay cases, as did the lack of oversight by the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSPJ) charged with independently overseeing the judiciary. The CSPJ filled the vacancy of the CSPJ Inspections Unit Chief, whose role influenced the timeliness of judicial adjudication and reduced pretrial detention. The Ministry of Justice and Public Security’s Legal Assistance Offices had identified trafficking cases, but many of the cases ended in the accused being released without trial in 2018. The National Committee for the Fight Against Human Trafficking (CNLTP) actively monitored trafficking cases in the court system and sent members to towns outside of the capital to observe the prosecution of trafficking-related cases and advocate for the victims. The government increased training on trafficking prevention, victim care, and the application of the TIP Law; the Haitian Magistrate’s School (EMA) led six seminars on the law for 128 prosecutors, judges, and police officers between May and September in an effort to address weaknesses in the system. EMA also organized a seminar on sexual and gender-based violence and human trafficking for 170 representatives of the national police, judges, and civil society representatives. The CNLTP collaborated with an international partner in December to train 19 immigration officials in the profiles of traffickers and potential victims. A group of Haitian anti-trafficking leaders, including a senator, members of CNLTP, media, and civil society participated in an international exchange program in May on innovative law enforcement strategies to prevent and prosecute trafficking and policy initiatives to provide social services to victims. Ten judicial and law enforcement officials participated in training on identifying human trafficking indicators and child exploitation at an overseas course in June. The National Migration Office collaborated with an international organization to install a new migration information database at a major border crossing point in November to assist with identifying suspected traffickers. The CNLTP and the national police coordinated with their counterparts in the Dominican Republic on an investigation involving a Dominican national who was a victim of sex trafficking in Haiti.