PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A discussion regarding Haiti’s approach to human trafficking took place between Haitian Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant and Human Trafficking Institute Founding Director John Richmond during a trip to Port-au-Prince in early May.
The discussion happened in response to a two-day visit this past February in Washington D.C., where a delegation from Haiti met with several U.S. government agencies and non-governmental organizations to discuss partnership in tackling Haiti’s Tier 3 ranking in the 2016 Trafficking in Persons report. This report lists Haiti as a hub for sourcing and transiting men, women, and children for forced labor and sex trafficking and states that Haiti has not shown overall improvement in their efforts to eliminate human trafficking since the release of the 2015 TIP report.
Others who attended the meeting with the Prime Minister included Restavek Freedom Foundation leaders Joan Conn and Pastor Bilba, Congressman Price Cyprien, and lawyer Natalie Price. Leaders discussed the current legal landscape of Haiti and ways in which the Haitian government can exercise leadership to improve human trafficking investigations, prosecutions, and convictions. They also discussed Haiti’s Restavek system, a form of human slavery against children who are given to relatives or strangers and forced to work without pay.
Richmond stated that Haiti’s new administration is in a great position to exercise leadership to combat issues of human trafficking. He suggested that a demonstration of Haiti’s political will against the problem is a prerequisite to significant action by others. In response, Lafontant stated that the new administration is committed to fighting human trafficking and the need to improve Haiti’s image.