[ Country-by-Country Reports ]
CUBA (TIER 3) [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in
Persons Report, June 2009]
is principally a source of women and children trafficked within the country
for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Some Cuban children are
reportedly pushed into prostitution by their families, exchanging sex for
money, food, or gifts. Cuban nationals voluntarily migrate illegally to the
United States, and there have been reports that some are subjected to forced
labor or forced prostitution by their smugglers. The full scope of
trafficking within Cuba is difficult to gauge due to the closed nature of the
government and sparse non-governmental or independent reporting. State-run
hotel workers, travel employees, cab drivers, and police steer some tourists
to women and children in prostitution – including trafficking victims
– though this appears to be on the decline.
Government of Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the
elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so.
It is difficult to assess the true extent of trafficking in Cuba. Observation
and independent reports suggest that the Cuban government is taking steps to
address the problem of child sex tourism, though this information cannot be
verified. The government will not release information about anti-trafficking
activities it may have engaged in during the past year, viewing U.S. attempts
to engage officials on trafficking issues as politically motivated.
Recommendations for Cuba: Acknowledge that child sex trafficking in Cuba is a
problem; provide greater legal protections and assistance for victims;
develop procedures to identify possible trafficking victims among vulnerable
populations; increase anti-trafficking training for law enforcement; and,
take greater steps to prevent the trafficking of children in prostitution.
Cuba prohibits most forms of trafficking activity through various provisions
of its penal code. While prostitution for persons over the age of 16 is
legal, Title III, Section First Article 310 provides that using children
under 16 in prostitution, corruption, pornographic acts or other illegal
conduct may be punishable by from seven to 30 years' imprisonment or death.
Article 316, on the selling of minors, bans internal and transnational
trafficking in children under the age of 16 for forced labor, prostitution,
trade in organs, and pornography, and prescribes penalties of between four
and 20 years’ imprisonment. Articles 302 and 87 prohibit inducing an
adult into prostitution and prescribe penalties of up to 20 years’
imprisonment. All these penalties are sufficiently stringent, and
commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape.
Trafficking of adults for forced labor, however, is not prohibited under
Cuban law. No official data relating to Cuban investigations, prosecutions,
and convictions of trafficking offenders in 2008 or any other year has been
made public. An NGO in Cuba reports that a number of Cubans were convicted
for human trafficking in the past year, but the majority of the crimes appear
to be alien smuggling without an element of exploitation. The government
continued to assist the U.S. Coast Guard with investigating potential human
trafficking cases within alien smuggling groups, particularly cases of
illegal migrants forced to work for smugglers or drug gangs. Corruption
remained a problem throughout the government. Reports continued of individual
police officers accepting bribes and profiting from the commercial sex trade.
No investigations or prosecutions of public officials have been confirmed.
Efforts by the Government of Cuba to aid trafficking victims were not
officially reported over the last year, but appeared weak. Evidence suggests
that victims are punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of
their being trafficked. Although adult prostitution is legal in Cuba, police
occasionally rounded up women and children in Cuba’s sex trade and
charged them with vague crimes such as “dangerousness” without
attempting to identify trafficking victims among the detained persons.
Adolescents found in prostitution were sent to either juvenile detention
facilities or work camps emphasizing politicized rehabilitation. Personnel in
most detention and rehabilitation centers which may house trafficking victims
cannot provide adequate care, and conditions at some of these detention
centers appear to be harsh. Trafficking victims who are not detained may
access the limited services available through Cuba’s health system. Two
sexual abuse treatment centers run by the government with assistance from an
NGO which provide advanced care and counseling to child sexual abuse victims
and child witnesses are available to trafficking victims. Trained law
enforcement and court personnel record videos of interviews and testimony,
practices which could reduce children’s court appearances in
trafficking cases if they were to be so used. The centers’ staff also
provided specialized victim protection training to treatment professionals,
police, prosecutors, and judges. The government did not show evidence of
employing formal procedures to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable
populations, such as people exploited in prostitution. Cuba claims to have a
policy of encouraging victims of any crimes to participate in investigations
and prosecutions, though there were no victims of trafficking known to be so
encouraged during the reporting period. Cuba did not provide legal
alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face
hardship or retribution. NGOs report that Cuban missions in foreign countries
routinely refuse assistance to Cuban women who state they were forced to
travel overseas and coerced into prostitution.
The government does not acknowledge or condemn human trafficking as a problem
in Cuba. No known information campaigns to prevent sex or labor trafficking
took place during the reporting period. The government has taken steps to
reduce demand for commercial sex acts by prosecuting child sex offenders.
U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals are currently serving lengthy
sentences in Cuba for sexual exploitation of a minor; in the one new case
this year, a Cuban-American was arrested in March 2008 and charged with
corruption of minors, an offense usually involving sexual exploitation of
children under 14. This case has not yet gone to trial. The government
collects information on identified child sexual predators; immigration
officials at ports of entry use this information to deny them entry to Cuba.
Cuba has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.