Regional Latin American and Caribbean Conference on Combating Trafficking in Persons

On July 30th and 31st 2019, the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) and the Association of Women Judges of the Dominican Republic (AJURD) convened a Regional Conference on Trafficking in Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), 2019 in recognition of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (TIP) on July 30. 

The initiative for organizing the regional conference emanated from the IAWJ Department of State funded 2-year program through the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (JTIP) entitled, Countering Trafficking in Persons in the Dominican Republic: Multi-sector Response & Local Resilience in Targeted Vulnerable Communities.

The conference was also sponsored by several Dominican Judicial Institutions including, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX),  the Constitutional Court (TC), the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), and the Supreme Court of Justice (CS), as well as by the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic’s National Judicial Training School (ENJ). 

One of the key purposes of the conference was to initiate dialogue and promote cooperation between key stakeholders throughout the region. The conference sought to create a platform in order to encourage experts to share their experiences, techniques and innovative approaches to minimizing re-victimization, improving investigations and raising public awareness about trafficking. 

(Above Photo L-R: Judge Jovita Alicia Rojas (Paraguay), Human RIghts Lawyer, Jenny Moron for MUDHA (Dom. Republic), Program Director, Gemma Bardaji for Free the Slaves (Dom. Republic), Executive Director of Libera Foundation, Carolina Rudnick (Chile) discuss public outreach messaging and campaigns).

Over 150 expert stakeholders from across the region participated, including judges, prosecutors, police officers, advocates and service providers hailing from Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guayana, Belize, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the United States.

Throughout the conference participants and panelists exchanged ideas and were encouraged to develop strategies for enhanced transnational cooperation. The conference also provided an opportunity for regional, international and local dominican organizations to showcase their current initiatives in combatting human trafficking. Organizations such as LUMOS, Free the Slaves, Participación Ciudadana, the International Justice Mission and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) shared their approaches and provided on-site materials for conference participants.

Some of the key issues addressed by the conference include:

  • The need to provide greater court-room orientation for victims; 
  • Identifying points of contact in countries that can support transnational coordination;
  • Creating multilingual public awareness campaigns for foreign victims. 
(Above Photo L-R: Judge Grecia Norceus (Haití), Prosecutor Jonathan Baro (Dom. Republic), Superintendent Anthony McLaughlin (Jamaica), Judge Natalia Molina (Argentina) discuss best practices in evidence collection, case development, and trials). 

Further, in an effort to raise greater awareness on the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, several of the key justice sector institutions lit their buildings up in blue on July 30th in order to publicly show their commitment to the cause. Judge Katia Miguelina, Constitutional Court and President of AJURD, tweeted:

In the coming months, IAWJ will be releasing a report with conference details and recommendations from conference participants. IAWJ believes that this regional conference will continue to motivate members and partners to coordinate efforts and exchange ideas in combatting human trafficking at the national and regional levels. 

This blog post was written by IAWJ’s Senior Program Officer, Jane Charles-Voltaire. For more information about the IAWJ’s current counter-trafficking programs please contact her at JCharles-Voltaire@iawj.org.