Jamaica

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Report

JAMAICA: Tier 2

Jamaica is a source and destination country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Sex trafficking of Jamaican women and children reportedly occurs on streets and in night clubs, bars, massage parlors, and private homes, including in resort towns. Jamaican citizens have been subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor abroad, including in other Caribbean countries, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Communities vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor include residents of Jamaica’s poverty-stricken areas effectively controlled by criminal “dons,” and workers in the informal sector, particularly on family farms and in markets and shops. Child domestic workers may be subject to domestic servitude. Many children are reported missing in Jamaica; some of these children are subjected to forced labor or sex trafficking. Foreign nationals are subjected to forced labor in Jamaica and aboard foreign-flagged fishing vessels operating in Jamaican waters. NGOs and other local observers report child sex tourism is a problem in Jamaica’s resort areas. Two former officials faced trafficking in persons charges.

The Government of Jamaica does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government secured two convictions, the first in seven years: one each for forced labor and sex trafficking. The government prosecuted nine trafficking cases against 14 alleged traffickers. The government developed a national action plan for 2015-2018, developed and implemented two new victim protection protocols, reported 52 suspected child trafficking cases, identified four confirmed trafficking victims who were provided government shelter and services, and increased funding to victim services. Officials identified few confirmed victims relative to the number of new trafficking investigations and the size of the vulnerable population.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR JAMAICA:

Vigorously prosecute, convict, and punish traffickers, including any officials complicit in sex or labor trafficking; identify and assist more victims of forced labor and sex trafficking, including prostituted Jamaican children; develop a new, comprehensive national action plan with adequate funding dedicated to implementing the plan; fully implement government-wide standard operating procedures to guide police, labor inspectors, child welfare officials, and health workers in the proactive identification of local and foreign victims of forced labor and sex trafficking, including children younger than age 18 in prostitution in night clubs, bars, and massage parlors; develop and implement standards for shelter and trafficking victim care designed to move victims toward self-sufficiency; provide the necessary authority and support to the newly appointed national rapporteur on trafficking in persons to carry out the mandate to investigate reports of human trafficking, report on violations of the rights of victims, and provide an annual report to the government; and continue efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking of both Jamaican citizens and foreign nationals.

PROSECUTION

The government increased efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers. The government prohibits all forms of trafficking through its comprehensive Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression, and Punishment) Act. The maximum sentence for trafficking in persons and conspiracy to commit trafficking is 20 years’ imprisonment, or a fine, or both. The maximum sentence for aggravated trafficking in persons is 30 years’ imprisonment, or a fine, or both. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In April 2014, officials enacted the Criminal Justice Act, which may be used to prosecute traffickers who are members of a “criminal organization” with penalties of five to 15 years’ imprisonment or a fine or both. A number of new laws, including most notably the Evidence (Amendment) Act of 2015, the DNA Evidence Act of 2015, and the Jury (Amendment) Act of 2016, are expected to strengthen the judicial system’s ability to admit relevant evidence in trafficking cases and improve the jury system.

Authorities reportedly initiated 30 new trafficking investigations compared with 38 in 2014, leading to the arrest of four individuals for suspected trafficking crimes in 2015. Officials prosecuted nine trafficking cases against 14 alleged traffickers; two cases—one sex trafficking and one forced labor—against four defendants were new in the reporting period compared to five new trafficking cases in the previous reporting period. The government secured two convictions, the first in seven years: a forced labor conviction and a sex trafficking conviction. In the forced labor case, the court sentenced the trafficker to pay 2.4 million Jamaican dollars ($19,700) in fines and 2.4 million Jamaican dollars in restitution to three victims, but did not impose imprisonment; this is not sufficiently stringent under international law. In the sex trafficking case, the trafficker was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in April 2016. The independent commission of investigations had authority to investigate all alleged abuses by police officers and government officials. The former deputy chairman of Jamaica’s anti-doping committee faced charges of living off the earnings of prostitution, a crime under the Sexual Offenses Act; the prosecution was ongoing at the close of the reporting period.

The government trained 563 police officers on trafficking, compared to 128 in the previous reporting period. The Ministry of National Security and the National TaskForce against Trafficking in Persons trained coast guard, customs, and immigration officials; and the Jamaican Constabulary Force (JCF), with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, funded and facilitated an anti-trafficking training for police officers, soldiers, customs officers, and other law enforcement officials from across the Caribbean. Jamaican officials participated in trafficking in persons courses for criminal justice system professionals to build capacity, funded by foreign government and international organization sources.

PROTECTION

The government increased efforts to protect victims. Authorities identified four confirmed trafficking victims—three men and one girl—in 2015, compared to four confirmed victims—three women and one girl—in 2014. The government developed a victim protection protocol and a standard operating procedure for granting temporary immigration status to trafficking victims. Police continued to use a standard operating procedure for victim identification. Immigration officials continued to screen and conduct risk assessments of potential victims. The children’s registry received 52 reports of suspected trafficking cases—49 for sex trafficking and three for forced labor—which it referred to the JCF. The JCF’s trafficking unit, when taking trafficking victims into protective custody, was required to notify the taskforce, partner NGOs, and, when applicable, the Child Development Agency. The JCF trafficking unit then made arrangements for the transportation and transfer of victims to a shelter care facility.

The government offered protection to all four identified victims and referred them to government or NGO care facilities for medical services, psychological services, and financial assistance for basic necessities. The government’s trafficking shelter, which could house 12 people, continued to assist two female victims; one victim of domestic servitude who had lived in the shelter for three years and one child sex trafficking victim who entered the shelter in 2015. Both received medical and dental care, psychological counseling, food and basic necessities, legal services, and access to recreation. Both victims attended school outside the shelter and received help with homework from shelter staff. Authorities also provided shelter and services to three male forced labor victims at a secure location. Authorities provided 13 million Jamaican dollars ($107,100) for victim assistance in 2015, compared with 3.4 million Jamaican dollars ($29,500) in 2014; however, the 2014 budget figure did not include the cost of accommodating victims in locations alternative to the shelter. In accordance with Jamaica’s anti-trafficking law, the government directed immigration authorities not to deport foreign victims. The anti-trafficking taskforce and an international organization were in the process of securing immigration relief for four foreign national victims at the end of the reporting period. There were no reports of the government punishing victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking.

PREVENTION

The government increased efforts to prevent human trafficking. Jamaica developed and published a new national anti-trafficking plan valid through 2018, to be implemented by the national taskforce through sub-committees on prevention, protection, and prosecution. The taskforce requested but had not received a fixed budget to implement the plan. The cabinet appointed a national rapporteur on trafficking in persons in early 2015 in order to investigate reports of trafficking, report on violations of the rights of victims, and provide an annual report to the government. The government engaged in public awareness raising activities on all forms of trafficking, including a campaign in schools and the community; media interviews; and targeted outreach through the distribution of more than 3,300 pamphlets. The government’s efforts resulted in the direct training of more than 4,000 students and 90 principals. The labor ministry, prior to the departure of Jamaican participants in an overseas seasonal agricultural program, educated them about the risks of trafficking. The taskforce educated members of the tourism industry in major resort areas on indicators of trafficking and encouraged them to report suspected sex tourism. The government did not report any child sex tourism investigations, prosecutions, or convictions. Police conducted operations in an area known for the commercial sex trade, which resulted in the closure of three establishments suspected of facilitating illegal activity. The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor. The government provided anti-trafficking training to diplomatic personnel, including the requirement for such personnel to enter into employment contracts with their domestic workers.