BARBADOS: Tier 2
Barbados is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Authorities and NGOs report foreign women have been forced into prostitution in Barbados. Foreigners are subjected to forced labor in Barbados, most notably in domestic service, agriculture, and construction. Legal and undocumented immigrants from Jamaica and Guyana are especially vulnerable to trafficking. Child sex trafficking occurs in Barbados. There are anecdotal reports by authorities and NGOs that children are subjected to sex trafficking, including by parents and caregivers.
The Government of Barbados does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. A new anti-trafficking law was approved by Parliament but was awaiting proclamation at the close of the reporting period and is not yet in force. Current law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking and prescribes some penalties—fines—that are not sufficiently stringent; the new draft law would prohibit all forms of trafficking but still allow insufficiently stringent penalties to deter the crime. The government has never convicted a trafficker, but one 2013 prosecution remains awaiting trial for the second consecutive year. The government continued drafting, but did not formally approve or implement for the second consecutive year, a national action plan establishing activities and priorities for 2016 through 2020, although the government did use the national action plan to inform a two-year work plan, covering 2015-2016, which was implemented. A government-wide anti-trafficking manual outlining identification and referral procedures was not completed for the second consecutive year. The government identified 12 potential trafficking victims, and assisted a previously identified trafficking victim during the reporting period. The government cited an overall lack of resources and manpower to adequately combat trafficking.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BARBADOS:
Enact and implement a new anti-trafficking law to prohibit all forms of human trafficking and prescribe penalties that are sufficiently stringent (without an alternative of a fine) and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape; investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including complicit officials, and apply stringent sentences that deter future trafficking crimes; train law enforcement and prosecutors in proactively identifying, obtaining, preserving, and corroborating evidence to reduce dependence on victim testimony; continue training and encouraging government officials to implement procedures to proactively identify labor and sex trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as Barbadians and foreigners in prostitution and migrant workers; provide adequate funding to organizations that assist trafficking victims; codify provisions for victims’ legal alternatives to their removal to countries in which they would face retribution or hardship; continue to enhance partnership with NGOs to combat human trafficking; enact a national action plan to combat trafficking and complete the government-wide anti-trafficking manual; and make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.
The government made inadequate efforts to prosecute traffickers in 2015, and has never reported any trafficking convictions. The law does not prohibit all forms of human trafficking, in particular internal trafficking, and does not prescribe penalties for trafficking that are sufficiently stringent. Articles 13, 19, and 20 of the Sexual Offenses Act; articles 33 and 34 of the Offenses against the Person Act; and article 8 of the Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) Act of 2011 address trafficking in persons. Aiding, abetting, or compelling prostitution under article 20 of the Sexual Offenses Act is punishable by five years’ imprisonment, which is not commensurate with the prescribed penalty for rape, which is life imprisonment. The transnational trafficking of an adult under the TOC Act is punishable by 15 years’ imprisonment or a potential fine with no jail time, which is not commensurate with the prescribed penalty for rape. Transnational trafficking of a child is punishable by imprisonment for life, which is commensurate with the prescribed penalty for rape. In 2015, the government drafted a new anti-trafficking bill, which will repeal the TOC Act, expand the definition to include internal trafficking, and enact more serious penalties for child trafficking; it was approved by the parliament and is awaiting proclamation. The trafficking of adults and children under the new bill is punishable by a potential fine with no jail time; these penalties are not sufficiently stringent or commensurate with the prescribed penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape.
Authorities investigated six new potential trafficking cases during the reporting period, compared with eight in 2014. The government determined four of the six suspected cases to be trafficking, involving 12 adult female potential trafficking victims, three of whom were subjected to sex trafficking in Jamaica and identified at the airport upon their arrival in Barbados. The three victims from Jamaica chose to return home and thus were not available to assist in prosecutions. The police identified the remaining nine Jamaican victims during a raid of a commercial sex establishment that forced the closure of the establishment. All nine of the victims elected to return to Jamaica and refused to assist in prosecutions. The other two cases were determined to be child sexual abuse and rape. The government reported no new prosecutions or convictions in 2015 or 2014. One prosecution—involving an immigration official for alleged complicity and misconduct in public office as a result of an April 2013 raid of a local brothel—remained pending, awaiting trial for the second consecutive year. The government did not report any new investigations or prosecutions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses and has never reported any convictions of government employees complicit in such offenses. The police said it struggled to target perpetrators and obtain evidence, given perpetrators’ shift in tactics. The specialized anti-trafficking police unit, which also investigates child abuse and exploitation crimes, noted a significant increase in the number of cases referred to the unit, but cited a lack of manpower to investigate adequately all cases under its purview. The unit trained 200 front-line police officers on indicators of trafficking.
The government sustained moderate efforts in the protection of victims. Officials identified 12 adult female potential sex trafficking victims compared with none in the previous reporting period. The police intercepted three of the victims at the airport upon arrival in the country, but all three chose to depart the country. The government supplied meals to the victims in the airport and offered victim assistance, which the victims refused. The government also offered victim services to the nine Jamaican victims identified in the raid, but all nine victims refused services and elected to return to Jamaica. The government continued to provide shelter and occupational training to one of five victims identified in 2013, who cooperated with the police to provide evidence against the alleged traffickers in the case. Law enforcement generally referred victims to the gender affairs bureau, which coordinated assistance with local NGOs; the NGOs reported the mechanism worked. Authorities continued to develop a government-wide manual for the second year detailing written identification and referral procedures to better guide the victim referral process. The government had an agreement with an NGO to provide shelter for male trafficking victims, although this NGO did not assist any during the reporting period. Authorities provided some funding to an NGO crisis center that provided shelter and psychological, medical, and occupational services to female victims of violence, including potential trafficking victims. This organization and the government’s gender affairs bureau cooperated with other NGOs to offer additional services. The government acknowledged having insufficient funding to support multiple victims for long periods of time. The government maintained an informal policy allowing foreign victims to receive temporary legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they would face hardship or retribution, and continued providing one victim with temporary residency in 2015. NGOs did not report any trafficking victims detained, deported, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking.
The government made moderate efforts to prevent trafficking. The attorney general led the government’s anti-trafficking taskforce, which met monthly and included permanent secretaries from several ministries. The government developed its national anti-trafficking action plan, covering 2016 through 2020, in collaboration with various government agencies and NGOs; however, it awaited final approval at the close of the reporting period before it could be implemented. The government implemented most objectives in its two-year work plan, including quarterly reporting on national trafficking statistics; public awareness presentations at two churches, reaching 75 people; an anti-trafficking awareness and training session for all government permanent secretaries; training for 40 officials in the immigration department, the Ministry of Labor, and the child care board; coordination with the labor department to produce brochures on labor trafficking; and efforts to integrate the labor department into the taskforce. The government continued to post information at the international airport listing elements of trafficking and a hotline victims could use for assistance. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel. The government made efforts to reduce demand for forced labor through outreach to the private sector on the penalties in the new law, but did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.