SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — The Dominican constitution has been amended for the first time to prohibit human trafficking in all its forms, earning praise from human rights watchers.
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — The Dominican constitution has been amended for the first time to prohibit human trafficking in all its forms, earning praise from human rights watchers. The law was approved Monday with 180 votes in the 201-member constitutional reform assembly, which began work earlier this month. "For the first time this issue has been given constitutional status, and that is positive and significant," said Servio Tulio Castanos, president of the Foundation for Institutionalism and Justice, a Dominican non-governmental organization that promotes judicial reform. Human trafficking was already illegal under Dominican law and the country has signed international conventions against it, but the practice has continued there, according to Amnesty International and other groups. Haitians are frequently brought illegally across Hispaniola’s sole border into the Dominican Republic to work on sugar plantations, in construction and tourism. Meanwhile, an estimated 50,000 Dominicans are trafficked worldwide, many for prostitution, according to Dominican first lady Margarita Cedeno de Fernandez. Others pay for illegal trips to the United States and its Caribbean territory of Puerto Rico. ______ Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.