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Jeanette Richardson-Baars

Aruba , Class of 2012

Jeanette Richardson-Baars

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The Deputy Police Commissioner of Aruba, Jeanette Richardson-Baars has taken steps to help victims, and to build awareness of human trafficking.

Although it’s not a part of her job description, she goes above and beyond to work on anti-trafficking issues. She has helped form and been active as a part of Aruba’s interagency committee, which has discovered trafficking of all forms, including sex trafficking and forced labor. They have tirelessly pursued and advocated for better policies to more effectively rescue victims and prosecute traffickers. Despite not having a budget for trafficking awareness, she used her own personal computer to build a public awareness campaign that spread across the island. The posters were translated into several languages, targeting the populace and the tourists. By advocating at the highest level possible, she was able to obtain a Kingdom of the Netherlands-wide memoranda of understanding which allowed her to house victims off of the island. The problem with housing them on the island is that it is small, and effectively hiding them from an exploiter is difficult, as is keeping their identity anonymous or secret. Her voice is strong and consistent, and frequently heard at regional and international conferences. She stands out when it comes to the Caribbean. Many island nations do not want to drive away tourists. She realizes that justice may be a higher goal.

In the 2014 TIP Report, Aruba was listed as a Tier 2 country, although it must be noted, as it is in the report, that Aruba is not an autonomous entity but a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is a source and a destination for both sex trafficking and forced labor. The government convicted its first two offenders under the new trafficking statutes in 2013, but needs to improve various policies and procedures with regards to first-line response and victim identification.

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