Sex trafficking in Aruba and Curacao is a well known trade and its no secret to the people that live on the island. The government did not initiate any prosecutions for trafficking offenses or newly convict any traffickers for the third consecutive year. An October anti-trafficking campaign helped raise awareness about trafficking. Those at greatest risk continue to be foreign women in Aruba's commercial sex trade and foreign men and women in the service and construction industries. When entering the island, tourists should be informed about the dangers of the island and be told what they can do if they ever need help. The government identified one potential trafficking victim during the reporting period; this is a decline from three identified trafficking victims in and 46 in And when laborers think their coming to Aruba to work on farms, in hotels, or restaurants, their real "jobs" are waiting for them. Restricting and controlling who enters the island can help end the selling of humans.
In an apparent conflict of interest, security for sex trade establishments was reportedly sometimes provided by off-duty police officers, which experts note could inhibit law enforcement's willingness to investigate allegations of human trafficking in the sex trade. However, the government did not meet minimum standards in several key areas. Multi-disciplinary teams of police, labor and immigration officials conducted inspections aimed at identifying potential labor exploitation. The government continued its trafficking awareness campaigns, via social media and posters and flyers in four languages targeting both victims and the general public; the campaign was linked to a hotline staffed by the national coordinator trained to assist trafficking victims. This is a decline from three labor trafficking victims provided with relief from deportation in the previous reporting period. Without tools, resources, investigations, and the manpower, this "task" force is useless. This narrative reflects how Aruba would be assessed if it were a separate, independent country. The government encouraged victims to cooperate in investigations and prosecutions by arranging for shelter and providing necessary care and assistance; and in June , the Legislation Committee of the Aruba Taskforce started to ensure trafficking victims accessibility to legal aid, medical assistance, and immigration support. The laws should be protecting victims and holding those responsible to face their consequences. The national anti-trafficking action plan, completed by the taskforce in the previous reporting period, remained pending approval by the government. The law authorizes the extension of temporary immigration relief for foreign victims for three to six months on a case-by-case basis, and allows foreign victims whose employers are suspected of human trafficking to change employers. While tourists have their minds set on vacationing and enjoying their time on the island, sex traffickers see them as prey. However, the work of the taskforce and national coordinator was undercut by the government's overall decline in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts in ; it did not initiate any new anti-trafficking investigations and has yet to successfully prosecute any sex or labor trafficking offenders. Media reports published in indicated several Aruban women were allegedly subjected to debt bondage in the Netherlands. Prosecution The Government of Aruba's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts declined during the reporting period. Nonetheless, to improve availability of shelter, in December , the taskforce signed an MOU with a local NGO to establish a multifunctional shelter in Aruba for victims in the Dutch Caribbean; however it did not begin implementation of the agreement. Protection The Government of Aruba demonstrated limited progress in its victim identification and protection efforts in There were no known reports of child sex tourism occurring in Aruba or of Arubans participating in international sex tourism. According to a recent expert report, the government did not have a written formalized policy for the identification of trafficking victims or their referral for care. The government provided anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel. An expert report released during the year praised Aruba's integrated task-force approach to address trafficking. The CTCC gave a presentation on multidisciplinary and regional cooperation, provided training during the Interpol Conference on Human Trafficking in the Caribbean, and worked with NGOs to explore possibilities of a multifunction shelter for victims needing temporary shelter. Children may be vulnerable to sex trafficking and to forced labor in Chinese-owned supermarkets and restaurants. However, it arrested and suspended an immigration officer who allegedly allowed illegal border crossings and falsification of documents; at the close of the reporting period, this case remained under investigation. The government had agreements with local NGOs and private sector accommodations for sheltering adult victims. Although police and health department officials inspected bars in Aruba with regulated prostitution, these inspections did not include an assessment of trafficking indicators, nor were these checks conducted during prime hours of operation.
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