Haiti Questions the Findings of Walk Free Foundation's Report on Child Labor and Human Trafficking Conditions and highlights government initiatives to address the issue.

Oct 21, 2013, 07:00 ET from Primature Haiti

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Oct. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The government of Haiti questioned the findings of a recent report by the Walk Free Foundation on the alleged prevalence of "modern slavery" in Haiti.  As the first nation to free itself from slavery in 1804 and a supporter of several Latin American countries in their own fight for freedom, Haiti is a proud nation that is attempting to address the problems of child labor and human trafficking that have long plagued the country.

Such reports, however, incorrectly inflate the prevalence of child labor in Haiti and do an enormous disservice to our government's efforts to address the issue.  This report supposedly arrives at its conclusions by "multiplying the estimated proportion of the population enslaved in [Haiti] (derived from random sample surveys and secondary source estimates) by the current population." The government is unaware of any serious random sample surveys on this subject and its own analysis of so-called secondary source estimates reflects that they are largely based on anecdotal accounts.  Haiti calls on international partners to assist in the data collection efforts of its child protection agency. 

In the last three years, the government of Haiti has launched numerous initiatives aimed at ending the practice of child labor in Haiti.  These include both developing the capacity of state services and improving existing legislation to end any and all forms of child labor in Haiti.

The government has also targeted the root causes of child domestic labor and trafficking through the development of a free education program to prevent families from sending children outside their home to find access to education in urban areas.  It has also targeted the issue through cash transfer programs that target single mother households which are statistically at risk for sending children outside of the home to work.  And, the government of Haiti has also developed a far reaching food assistance initiative to help the rural poor.

With the assistance of UNICEF, Haiti's child protection agency has expanded from four offices to ten to insure better access to social services for vulnerable families all over the country. These agencies have established a new protocol for the movement of children, requiring paperwork to move with children out of Haiti's borders.

The government of Haiti has signed an important adoption law to regulate the process for adoption nationally and internationally, assuring that Haitian children are placed with good families. We have worked with international partners such as IOM and UNICEF to develop an anti-human trafficking bill, which now requires only Senate ratification.  When this bill becomes law it will also mandate an inter-ministerial working group on human trafficking and a national plan of action on the issue.

We urge international organizations such as the Walk Free Foundation to assist Haiti in the development of serious data collection that could assist in not only measuring our initiatives but that also reflects the spectrum of child related situations and movement in Haiti. As Haiti advances in the development of its social programs, we remain committed to the eradication of all forms of child labor and human trafficking.


Gary Bodeau


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SOURCE Primature Haiti