Day against human trafficking

What is human trafficking?
Among other things, human trafficking includes recruiting, transporting, taking and housing people under coercion. Victims often find themselves in a vulnerable position. They are being blackmailed, threatened, abused or deceived.  This way, they are kept in an exploitation situation.

Dag van de mensenhandel

What is human smuggling?
Human smuggling is offering help and transport to people with the aim of smuggling them across the border. Human smugglers make use of the emergency situation migrants find themselves in. The victims have to pay the smuggler for transport, shelter, fake documents and so on.

‘I discovered what exploitation was,
when I became a victim of human trafficking’

What are the warning signs?

There are different kinds of human trafficking, for instance sexual exploitation, labor exploitation or forced crime. Each kind has its own signs. With human trafficking it’s usually a combination of different signals.

Signaling human trafficking is important, because victims can be dependent on the people in their surroundings to get out of this exploitation situation. The force or threat they are under by the exploiter can be so big, that a victim needs help.

In some cases the victims are not even aware of the fact they are in an exploitation situation, for example because they don’t know their rights as a worker in the Caribbean Netherlands.

How to recognize the signs of human trafficking / human smuggling?

Victims of exploitation situations often show certain characteristics. Someone might be a victim of exploitation when:

  • he/she has to do dangerous and unhealthy work;
  • he/she has to work long hours;
  • he/she gets paid too little, doesn’t get paid at all or has to wait for their pay for a long time;
  • he/she can’t access their own passport;
  • he/she was brought to the Caribbean Netherlands under false pretenses;
  • he/she is being abused, blackmailed, forced or threatened;
  • he/she has to pay off a high debt to their employer;
  • he/she can’t access the money in their own bank account;
  • he/she is paid off the books or, for example, is not insured for casualties;
  • he/she lives on a business premises, or is otherwise badly housed;
  • he/she is not aware of their residence address;
  • he/she is being put under pressure in other ways;
  • he/she is forced to have sex against their will;
  • he/she is forced to have paid sex, at which they have to hand over the money to someone else.

With human trafficking it’s usually a combination of different signals.

Dag van de mensenhandel 2020


Labor inspection is working closely with the law enforcement, KMAR, and the department of Surveillance and Enforcement

Labor inspection has the authority to perform inspections in businesses without notice. The employer and its employees are obliged to cooperate.

Sometimes inspections are performed in response to an accident or a complaint. But inspections are also carried out within the framework of inspection projects. In these cases, different companies within the same sector are inspected to discover trends and problems within that sector.

To make sure as many cases of human trafficking as possible are reported, several agreements have been made. Protecting privacy is of the utmost importance when reporting victims. When victims are being reported, different legal frameworks apply about exchanging personal data.

Recognizing human trafficking and human smuggling isn’t always that obvious though. That’s why there is the so-called ‘Themaregister’. In this registry reports can be listed. For instance, it could stand out that a person is quiet, showing submissive behavior and is avoiding other people. This could simply be because this is a private person or because someone doesn’t feel that well at the moment. But, if someone is showing multiple special signs, it could possibly also mean something else. The authorities involved have to be highly alert. Registering seemingly unremarkable situations can eventually lead to a case of human trafficking or human smuggling.

‘Only when I was taken out of the situation I was in, I realized how humiliating it really was. At first, I was afraid of the police, but they really came through for me’

Day against human trafficking

What can you do as an employer?

There are legal frameworks in place, but it is possible they are not completely clear to you as an employer.

Please contact labor inspection when you have second thoughts about working conditions.

What can you do when you suspect human trafficking or human smuggling?

You can contact the police department.

Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba:
+ 599 715 8000

Videos on human trafficking

Human trafficking takes many different forms. Some of them are shown in the videos below. Click on the link to watch the video.