On May 10, 2018, the Dominican Republic Ministry for External Relations (MIREX) and International Justice Mission (IJM) celebrated the collaborative launch of the National Plan of Action against Human Trafficking and the Smuggling of Migrants 2017-2020.
This innovative plan lays the groundwork for effective public policy that will not only combat crimes like trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour, but also support the survivors of those crimes.
According to Miguel Vargas, Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic, sex trafficking and forced labour are crimes that primarily affect women and children. In fact, Vargas explained, human trafficking is considered “the third most lucrative business, after drug trafficking and weapons trafficking.”
The Dominican Republic government passed its first anti-trafficking law in 2003, then enacted the first nationwide plan to combat child sex trafficking in 2006. However, from 2003-2013, there were only six child sex trafficking convictions in the entire country. Despite the efforts made to combat this crime in the past, more needs to be done. The New Action Plan will address this “transnational crime that is often deadly,” said Vargas.
This ground-breaking Action Plan covers three strategic areas: prevention, prosecution and victim support. It also incorporates global standards and recommendations from the United Nations’ “Sustainable Development Objectives” and “Global Compact for Migration,” allowing the Dominican government to measure their progress and implement best practices.
Last year, the Interinstitutional Commission against Human Trafficking and the Smuggling of Migrants (CITIM), formed by 14 government agencies, invited IJM to join the commission because of its expertise in prosecuting sex traffickers and successfully rescuing, protecting and restoring children survivors of sex trafficking.
IJM helped develop the National Plan’s strategy, providing technical and financial support because we share a common interest — to end sex trafficking in the Dominican Republic.
“This is an important moment for the country,” said Fernando Rodriguez, IJM Field Office Director. “The plan’s goals are clear: reduce the number of victims, ensure that perpetrators are accountable for their crimes, restore survivors and create a justice system that protects the most vulnerable from violence.”
IJM began working in the Dominican Republic in late 2013. As a result of our collaborative work with local authorities and other trained partners, we have rescued more than 110 children victims from sex trafficking, secured the conviction of 28 traffickers and walked with 23 survivors to restore them to health and wholeness.