Torture in  [Belize]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Belize]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Belize]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Belize]  [other countries]

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

In the early years of the 21st Century                                              


In this small, essentially private-enterprise economy, tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner followed by exports of marine products, citrus, cane sugar, bananas, and garments.

Major concerns continue to be the sizable trade deficit and unsustainable foreign debt equivalent to nearly 70% of GDP.

A key short-term objective remains the reduction of poverty with the help of international donors.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Belize

Belize is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. The most common form of trafficking in Belize is the internal sex trafficking of minors, particularly situations where poor families push their school-aged daughters to provide sexual favors to wealthy older men in exchange for school fees, money, and gifts..   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   [full country report]



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Belize.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to verify their authenticity or to validate their content.


Belize joins anti human trafficking network

Jacqueline Godwin for News Five, April 26, 2006

[accessed 22 January 2011]

SAID MUSA, PRIME MINISTER - “Belize though a small multi-cultural Central American and Caribbean nation has already been shown to demonstrate various vulnerabilities, such as: easily accessible border crossings, a long coastline for maritime access and other institutional considerations. It is therefore incumbent on us to take preventative action to ensure that we do not become a haven for those who are intent on exploiting others.”


*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Trafficking Concerns in the Commonwealth Caribbean: the 2009 U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report in focus [PDF]

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) London, June 2009

[accessed 22 January 2011]


1. Belize is a source, transit, and destination country for people (including children) trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour. Internal trafficking for sexual exploitation is also a concern, especially when poorer families often feel obliged or, pressured to compel girls to engage in sexual activity in exchange for payment.

2. In 2008 Belize was placed in Tier 2, however, the 2009 TIP Report has moved Belize into the Watch List category largely in response to its failure to prosecute human trafficking offences properly. The government of Belize has made significant efforts to raise awareness and increase efforts of prevention and protection. For example, there has been increased anti-trafficking training made available for police and social workers. There are also government sponsored residential care facilities available for victims of trafficking and the government is supportive of local anti-trafficking NGOs. The prosecution of offenders however remains inadequate and the Report found disturbing incidences of official involvement in trafficking, often associated with corruption.

3. Human trafficking is prohibited under Belize domestic law by the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Act of 2003. Punishment for those prosecuted under this act constitutes one to five years of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Tough as these penalties are, they are not proportionate to penalties for other serious criminal offences such as rape, which carries a penalty of eight years to life imprisonment. The laws are also not adequately enforced and there were no convictions last year despite a number of cases being brought to trial. As it currently stands one prosecution was dismissed, two remain pending and another pending appeal.

Belize finally taken off Tier 3 human trafficking list

Janelle Chanona, Reporting, News 5, September 28, 2006

[accessed 19 April 2012]

The Musa administration is tonight breathing a sigh of relief following an announcement by the United States government that Belize has been removed from the list of Tier Three countries with regard to Human Trafficking.

In June Belize was one of six countries placed on a Tier Three list by the U.S. for "not meeting minimum standards to fight trafficking in persons, a criminal practice". Since then the government has launched a number of public education campaigns and other initiatives on the issue and while several arrests have been made, as yet no one has been convicted.

Organization team up to fight trafficking in persons

Love FM, August 21, 2006

[accessed 19 April 2012]

Several organizations have teamed up to fight trafficking in persons or human trafficking in Belize. Today those agencies began a two-day workshop to look closer at the problem. We spoke with Director of Immigration and Nationality, Carmen Zetina, says he does not see human trafficking as a grave problem in Belize.

O.A.S. trains officials to fight human trafficking

Jacqueline Godwin, reporting, News 5, August 01, 2006

[accessed 19 April 2012]

The training of trainers session will arm the participants--mainly law enforcement officials--with the information to help them be able to identify victims and perpetrators of the crime. The police, customs and immigration officers are then expected to include the training in their work place. This latest initiative—aside from being the right thing to do--is also one more effort to get Belize off the tier three list established by the U.S. Department of State in its annual investigation into worldwide human trafficking. Is progress being made? Police Commissioner Gerald Westby believes the answer is yes.

Annual Report Of Activities By The Anti-Trafficking In Persons Section Of The Organization Of American States - April 2005 To March 2006 [DOC]

Inter-American Commission Of Women, Organization Of American States, 27 March 2006

[accessed 22 January 2011]

BELIZE - In Belize City, in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the OAS/CIM organized a two-day training seminar on combating trafficking in persons on April 14-15, 2005. The seminar was attended by 60 representatives of Belize’s Trafficking in Persons Task Force, Department of Human Services, Department of Immigration and Nationality Services, the police, and the press. Also represented were the consulates and embassies of Mexico, China, and the United States. The main aim of the seminar was to provide training and strengthen cooperation among the country’s agencies, and it also addressed such key areas as best research practices, trafficking in human lives from China in the western hemisphere, a panel session on sexual tourism, and the mental consequences of trafficking in persons. This training seminar served to heighten public awareness about the problem of trafficking in persons in general and about the local context in particular.

Immigration director’s cousin arrested for trafficking

News 5, July 28, 2006

[accessed 19 April 2012]

Esquivel's story is that her employer, Zetina, had initially hired her to work in a restaurant. But shortly after her arrival in Corozal, she was repeatedly asked to sexually satisfy male patrons at the Caracol Bar. Esquivel claims she said no to the requests, but that Zetina refused to pay her for her work. When she went to a friend to get help, Esquivel says she was ambushed and beaten by persons believed to be acting on her boss's behalf.

Extra House businessman busted on alleged human trafficking

Angel Novelo, The Reporter, 30.06.2006

[Last accessed 22 January 2011]

A Belize City businessman of Extra House supermarket was on Monday arraigned on charges of trafficking in human cargo, namely six counts of illegally holding the travel documents of six individuals of indian decent.

There have been widespread reports of several Indian and Chinese businesses operating across the country known to bring these individuals in to work while witholding their travel documents.

P.M. rebuts U.S. criticism on human trafficking

News 5, June 07, 2006

[accessed 19 April 2012]

SAID MUSA, PRIME MINISTER - “That Belize is now lumped and almost put in a box so to speak with, Belize, Venezuela and Cuba; I don’t think its pure coincidence. Because, when you analyze the issue of human trafficking, we have done a lot in this country to address this issue. Police, the immigration, people have raided constantly in addressing this issue of prostitution for instance and the whole question of human trafficking we’ve done a lot. But those who seek to judge us should perhaps examine their own decadent societies before they come and pass judgment on us.”

Belize joins anti human trafficking network

Jacqueline Godwin for News Five, April 26, 2006

[accessed 22 January 2011]

SAID MUSA, PRIME MINISTER - “Belize though a small multi-cultural Central American and Caribbean nation has already been shown to demonstrate various vulnerabilities, such as: easily accessible border crossings, a long coastline for maritime access and other institutional considerations. It is therefore incumbent on us to take preventative action to ensure that we do not become a haven for those who are intent on exploiting others.”

Salvadoran child may be victim of human trafficking

News 5, April 28, 2006

[accessed 19 April 2012]

But what would a small Salvadoran be doing in Belize unaccompanied? That's the scary question police are now trying to answer. If you have any information that may assist authorities, please contact the nearest police station or call 0-800-922-TIPS.

The Protection Project - Belize

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

[accessed 22 February 2016]

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE TRAFFICKING INFRASTRUCTURE - Throughout the Central American region, “machismo” attitudes are prevalent, and women are often viewed as sexual objects. Interfamily violence, the breakdown of families, and poverty push young people to leave their homes and communities to search for better lives.

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Many of the teenage girls and children trafficked into the country from neighboring Central American countries are forced to work in domestic service, as bar maids, and in prostitution.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 22 January 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Belize is considered a transit and destination country for children trafficked for sexual exploitation. Girls are also trafficked internally for commercial exploitation and to work in pornography.  The practice of selling female children to older men for sexual purposes has been reported to occur throughout the country.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 22 January 2011]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – During the year the government's efforts to identify trafficking victims were weakened by inadequate investigation and inspection by authorities. There were no reliable estimates of the extent of trafficking. There were reports that women were trafficked to the country from neighboring countries primarily for prostitution and nude dancing. Victims generally lived in squalid conditions in the bars where they worked. Some bar owners reportedly confiscated victims' passports. Agents of the bars and brothels lured women and girls to the country, and they or taxi drivers along the border delivered women to brothels.

There were reports of persons trafficked for labor purposes, including instances of Chinese immigrants being forced to work in local Chinese-owned sweatshops and of children working in activities such as shining shoes or selling newspapers at kiosks. Members of the East Indian community also trafficked persons from India as bonded laborers, holding their passports and paying less than minimum wage

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 28 January 2005

[accessed 22 January 2011]

[67] The Committee welcomes the adoption in 2003 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Act, which provides special protection for children, and the subsequent establishment of a special Task Force to give greater effect to the implementation of the Act, and notes the State party’s efforts to combat sexual exploitation of children, for instance, through the “Stamp Out Child Abuse” campaign. Notwithstanding these positive steps taken by the State party, the Committee is concerned about the sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and trafficking of children in Belize and draws attention to the existing risk factors, such as the growing tourism.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 1   Civil Liberties: 2   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 26 June 2012]

U.S. Library of Congress - Country Study

Library of Congress Call Number F2368 .G893 1993

[accessed 28 May 2017]

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Torture in  [Belize]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Belize]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Belize]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Belize]  [other countries]