December 18, 2008—Training, survey research, and media outreach helped increase community awareness of human trafficking of Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic.
||Haitian migrants who cross the border to work in the Dominican Republic are often abused and exploited.
Approximately 1.2 million Haitian workers live and work in the Dominican Republic. Most are in informal, low-wage work arrangements with no healthcare, workers’ compensation, pension, and other benefits. Haitians who are trafficked into the Dominican Republic usually have no documents, either provided by their own country or upon arrival. Under Dominican migration law, they are workers in transit, unprotected under national law and easily exploitable by authorities and employers. Their children, even those born in the Dominican Republic, also are undocumented and therefore have little or no access to public services such as education and healthcare.
Working with funding provided by Humanity United and in cooperation with the Dominican labor federation CNUS, the Solidarity Center provided assistance to CNUS’s anti-trafficking network through training, survey research, and media outreach aimed at increasing community awareness of trafficking and identifying economic sectors where workers are most vulnerable to exploitation.
With CNUS member unions, the Solidarity Center developed awareness-building educational materials and workshops on trafficking and forced labor. The workshops, conducted by union members with the help of a theater group made up of former trafficking victims, helped union members develop a better understanding of migrants’ legal rights, ease tensions between Haitian and Dominican workers, and target abusive employment practices, such as a semi-formal system of indentured servitude commonly used in the agricultural sector.
With Solidarity Center assistance, CNUS also developed an anti-trafficking campaign comprising surveys of migrant construction workers, posters and bulletins in Spanish and Creole, and media and union outreach through print, radio, and television. In 2008, the national congress of CNUS voted to approve the creation of a migrant rights department and committed to support efforts to organize workers around trafficking and irregular migration issues.