[ Human Trafficking, Country-by-Country ]

CUBA (Tier 3) Extracted from the U.S. State Dept 2020 TIP Report

The Government of Cuba does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; therefore Cuba remained on Tier 3. Despite the lack of significant efforts, the government took some steps to address trafficking, including some examples of investigating, prosecuting, and convicting sex traffickers and sex tourists, and identifying and providing assistance to victims. However, during the reporting period there was a government policy or government pattern to profit from labor export programs with strong indications of forced labor, particularly its foreign medical missions program. The government refused to improve the transparency of the program or address labor and trafficking concerns despite persistent allegations from observers, former participants, and foreign governments of Cuban officials’ involvement in abuses. The government failed to inform participants of the terms of their contracts, which varied from country to country, confiscated their documents and salaries, and threatened participants and their family members if participants left the program. Within Cuba, the government lacked procedures to proactively identify forced labor victims, lacked a comprehensive package of housing and services for victims, and did not protect potential trafficking victims from being detained or charged for unlawful acts their traffickers coerced them to commit. The government did not criminalize all forms of forced labor or sex trafficking.

Prioritized Recommendations

Ensure state-run labor export programs such as foreign medical missions comply with international labor standards or end them—specifically ensure participants receive fair wages, fully paid into bank accounts the workers can personally control; ensure participants retain control of their passports, contracts, and academic credentials; ensure a work environment safe from violence, harassment, and intrusive surveillance; and ensure participants have freedom of movement including to leave the program or refuse an assignment without penalties such as being threatened, imprisoned, harmed, or banned from returning to Cuba. • Draft a comprehensive anti-trafficking law that criminalizes all forms of trafficking, including an explicit prohibition of labor trafficking, and which ensures that the use of force, fraud, or coercion is considered an essential element of adult trafficking.• Vigorously investigate and prosecute both sex trafficking and forced labor offenses. • Implement formal policies and procedures on the identification of all trafficking victims and their referral to appropriate services, and train officials, including first responders, in their use. • Proactively identify trafficking victims, including among vulnerable populations. • Adopt policies and programs that provide trafficking-specific, specialized assistance for male, female, and LGBTI trafficking victims. • Screen individuals charged or detained for prostitution-related offenses for sex trafficking and refer victims to care providers. • Train those responsible for enforcing the labor code to screen for trafficking indicators and educate all Cuban workers about trafficking indicators and where to report trafficking-related violations. • Establish a permanent inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee. • Create a new national anti-trafficking action plan in partnership with international organizations for the period beyond 2020. • Provide specialized training on trafficking indicators for hotline staff and interpretation for non-Spanish speakers.