Commentary: Exploitation of Haiti's children must be stopped

The heartbreaking stories of abandoned and exploited young Haitians in the Dominican Republic shock the conscience. The traffic in children and adolescents is conducted openly and shamelessly along the Haitian-Dominican border, condemning thousands of young lives to years of pain, destitution and unrelieved misery. It must be stopped.

The complicity of governments willing to turn a blind eye to the abuse of the most vulnerable members of society compounds the outrage. Theirs is not only a failure to act, but a failure to give a damn.

As reported in detail by Jacqueline Charles of The Miami Herald and Gerardo Reyes of El Nuevo Herald, the action takes place right under the noses of police and guards along the border and in the tourist towns where young Haitian prostitutes ply their trade to make a living.

These guardians of law and order are too busy taking bribes or looking the other way while smugglers transport children across the border unhindered and turn them over to be exploited for sex or servitude.

Meanwhile, governments and institutions with the power to take effective action are unwilling to take responsibility.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive acknowledged there's a lack of political will to do anything about it. Dominican President Leonel Fernández did not respond directly, but his office said in an e-mail that the government has intensified border security, prosecutions and sanctions against smugglers.

Sure. There are laws on the books, but they're a joke. A U.S. State Department report this year concluded that the Dominican Republic ``does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.''

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