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Report/Press release

Working & Living Conditions of Sugarcane Workers in the Dominican Republic

This document is a key resource




N BaNikongo


Our task was to conduct a comprehensive, scientific investigation of Working and Living Conditions of Sugar Cane Workers (Caneros) in the Dominican Republic, in particular those employed by the Central Romana Corporation. Specifically, we wanted to understand the presence and existence of working conditions that meet the criteria of ―forced Labor‖ or ―modern slavery‖ as established by international convention and accepted practice. These elements of ―forced labor‖ and/or ―modern slavery‖ are outlined and detailed in the International Labor Organization (ILO) Forced Labor Protocol Article 1 (3) Convention of 1930 as reiterated in 2014.

The convention criteria established as key, the following:

 Acceptance of Work based upon False Promises
 Labor performed Involuntarily
 Labor performed under Menace of Penalty
 Labor performed under Threat of Violence
 Manipulated Debt
 Withholding of Identification Papers as a Pressure Tactic to force Compliance
 Threat of Notification to Immigration Authorities as a Pressure Tactic to force Compliance

It is noted that all of the above criteria need not exist but the presence of any one will suffice for the definitional purpose. The research therefore reached conclusions based on the existence of the presence of a single criterion or multiple criteria in the ILO’s definition. The research was conducted in light of multiple anecdotal reports including by journalists suggesting widespread exploitation in the industry (See bibliography references).

The research involved two streams of scientific enquiry. One stream involved the conduct of a quantitative survey questionnaire of Caneros. The other involved qualitative recorded interviews. The selection of Caneros to be interviewed was arrived at using a scientific approach of stratified, randomized sampling; this approach comports with generally accepted norms in academe.

We selected Bateyes across the greater La Romana/ San Pedro de Macoris area of the Dominican Republic. All the Bateyes selected were owned and administered by the Central Romana Corporation (CR/CRC), the single largest operator in the industry. Our visits took us through a total of 37 Bateyes.

Our interviewee cohorts were representative of the demographics of interests reflecting a mix of gender; location; time of arrival; number of years in the field; age.

This Report seeks to discuss the presence of Haitian labourers in the agricultural fields of the Dominican Republic, particularly on the sugar cane plantation communities known as Bateyes as constituting forced labour under ILO standards. The specific criteria of ILO standards are detailed as well as are the specific conditions of work among these labourers.

The report concludes that under ILO standards, as well as Dominican Republic law, the living and working conditions of ethnic Haitians in the agricultural fields of the Dominican Republic constitute forced labour.

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Geographical focuses

Haiti, Dominican Repulic, and National relevance