Press note

Child slavery in Haiti, a phenomenon that is eroding society: the “Zanmi Timoun” Foundation alerts the public authorities

April 16, the date of the fight against child slavery worldwide, was initiated in 1995 after the death of a 12-year-old Pakistani boy sold to repay a family debt. Still, in Haiti many children are forced into humiliating work and are deprived of their fundamental rights, while Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates “No one shall be held in slavery , nor in servitude: slavery and trafficking are prohibited in all their forms.” Thus, with international migration, especially irregular immigration and human trafficking, child labor is more widespread internationally. This is due to poverty, misery, exclusion and exploitation in poor countries. It is also the result of economic disparities and inequalities within certain countries and in international relations.

Thus, the socio-economic crisis and the security condition experienced by the Republic of Haiti have further worsened the situation of children and young people for more than two decades. Add to this, the political class which is undermined by divisions, corruption, criminal groups which terrorize the population and which causes thousands of cases of displacement of families, who are totally deprived of the means of subsistence. Certain families, mostly single parents, are obliged to place their children in domestic service, which can also be called “Restavèk”. Which largely constitutes child labor in Haiti alongside street children and street vendors.

Child workers and domestic workers are doubly victims, because not only are they separated from their families, but they are also subjected to very hard work, close to slavery. They do not have access to leisure, they work from morning to evening, washing dishes, cleaning, fetching water, cooking, looking after other children. These are the main tasks to which they are subjected. They have practically nothing to eat to satisfy their hunger, and do not know joy. Some of them are subject to sexual exploitation, especially girls who endure their suffering in silence.

Based on this observation which harms the development and fulfillment of Haitian children, the “Zanmi Timoun” Foundation is launching a cry of alarm about the situation of children who are victims of servitude. It demands access for all children to basic social services and recommends that the Haitian authorities combat all the worst forms of child labor in accordance with the conventions of the International Labor Organization.

Done in Port-au-Prince, April 15, 2023

Joseph Richard FORTUNÉ
Communications and Advocacy Manager
Tel: +509 3187-7363 / 3387-0688