Our Project on Combating Human Trafficking in Haiti Had its Closing Ceremony in January

Port-au-Prince, Haiti | Human trafficking is an important issue for the IAWJ. In partnership with our Chapter in Haiti (CHAIFEJ), we have been fighting human trafficking in Haiti since October 2015. While Haiti developed a law to prevent human trafficking, punish traffickers, and support victims, the challenge was to ensure its vigorous and proper application. To address this, CHAIFEJ and the IAWJ lead 15 multi-sector training workshops throughout the country for judges, police, prosecutors, and victim support services. CHAIFEJ combined the training on the law’s application with community outreach in town hall meetings and Caravans. In 2015 and 2016, the Haitian courts processed two trafficking cases and, not coincidentally, CHAIFEJ members served as the judges of instruction in those cases.

On January 25, 2019, CHAIFEJ and the IAWJ held a ceremony in Port-au-Prince to mark the official closure of the project. The ceremony commemorated the work of CHAFEJ members and partners from throughout the country.

Among the attendants were important members of the Haitian judiciary and law enforcement, civil society partners, and committed citizens interested in hearing about the work of women judges to fight human trafficking in Haiti. IAWJ President, Hon. Vanessa Ruiz and IAWJ Board Member, Hon. Justice Esther Agelan from the Dominican Republic also attended the event. Plaques and certificates were distributed to over 100 people who contributed in the project including judges, deans of courts, lawyers and citizens.

Hon. Maguy Florestal, Director of the Project and member of both the IAWJ and CHAIFEJ, gave remarks highlighting the achievements of the project during the event.

“Between 2015 and 2018 the project carried out numerous activities: 512 stakeholders received training in 19 different sessions, 20 different outreach activities on television, radio, social media, and pamphlet distribution were conducted, as well as a day of awareness with journalists in Port-au-Prince, and a one-day training for law students.”

Moreover, CHAIFEJ conducted several awareness activities in schools, churches, and public procurement offices in border areas. Thousands of Haitians were impacted by this program.

As a result, CHAIFEJ and the IAWJ increased awareness among magistrates on the law against human trafficking, which was enforced in twenty cases with 6 judgements; increased awareness by police officers; increased harmony between law enforcement and judges; and promoted a change in the mindset of the population resulting in a net decrease of children in domestic servitude.

Judge Florestal highlighted, however, that “the fight is far from over. Traffickers evolve constantly and develop new strategies and there is a need to join forces against this issue.”

“A more egalitarian society can be built only when human rights are respected. Working to eliminate trafficking in persons is, therefore, in an undeniable logic and in the public interest. Work in this direction will promote greater balance and harmony that will benefit society. We must continue to open our eyes to this crime and our hearts to the victim.”

Read more about the event in French here.