BARBADOS: Tier 2
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. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Barbados remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by creating a new anti-trafficking law, which includes stringent penalties commensurate with other serious crimes and allows for victim restitution. The government also increased training for officers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and employees in the hotel and tourism industries. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not initiate new prosecutions, had difficulty obtaining victim cooperation to prosecute traffickers, did not provide adequate resources to government agencies or relevant NGOs for training or furthering anti-trafficking efforts, and did not provide sufficient resources for victim care.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BARBADOS
Provide adequate funding to train law enforcement and prosecutors in proactively identifying, obtaining, preserving, and corroborating evidence to reduce dependence on victim testimony; while respecting due process, investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including complicit officials, and apply stringent sentences that deter future trafficking crimes; provide resources for training relevant government agencies to proactively identify labor and sex trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; provide adequate funding to organizations that assist trafficking victims; enact a national action plan to combat trafficking; complete the government-wide anti-trafficking manual; codify provisions for victims’ legal alternatives to their removal to countries in which they would face retribution or hardship; and make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.
The government maintained efforts to prosecute traffickers in 2016. During the reporting period, the government repealed the Transactional Organized Crime (TOC) Act of 2011, which did not prohibit all forms of human trafficking and did not prescribe penalties for trafficking that were sufficiently stringent. In June, the Trafficking In Persons Prevention Act (TIPPA) was enacted. The TIPPA criminalizes all forms of human trafficking and is generally in line with the definition of international law, defining “exploitation” broadly to include slavery, practices similar to slavery, forced labor, domestic and sexual servitude, and the exploitation of the prostitution of another or other forms of commercial sexual exploitation. It also requires “means” of force, fraud or coercion, except with regard to the exploitation of children. The TIPPA covers transnational as well as domestic trafficking crimes, makes evidence of past sexual behavior inadmissible, disallows the defense of consent, and makes withholding or destroying travel documents a crime. The punishment for labor or sex trafficking of adults is the same: 25 years in prison, a fine of one million Barbados dollars (BDS) ($495,050), or both penalties. Labor or sex trafficking of children is punished by a fine of two million BDS ($990,099), life imprisonment, or both penalties. The maximum sentences prescribe punishment that is sufficiently stringent to deter, and the penalties for sex trafficking are commensurate with those for rape. However, by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the prescribed punishment is not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape.
Authorities conducted two raids on nightclubs in 2016. Police identified eight victims in the two raids; all were immigrant women, seven Jamaicans and one Guyanese. As in 2015 and 2014, all of the victims refused to cooperate with law enforcement and requested to be returned to their home countries. Outside of the two raids, the police investigated one additional sex trafficking case involving a woman who came to Barbados under the guise of a modeling job. After further investigation, the director of public prosecutions chose not to bring charges under the TIPPA, and instead charged the perpetrator with unlawful confinement, rape, assault, and theft; the prosecution was pending at the close of the reporting period. The 2016 investigation record compared with six trafficking investigations in 2015, eight in 2014, and three in 2013. There were no new prosecutions initiated under the TIPPA during the reporting period, as there were none in 2015 and 2014. A prosecution that was ongoing in 2014 against two suspected traffickers is scheduled for a hearing in April 2017. A 2013 case involving an immigration official charged with complicity and misconduct in public office was cleared of charges; the individual was moved to another unit. To date, the government has not convicted any traffickers under the TIPPA.
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 government supported training sessions for law enforcement and judicial personnel. A police officer and an attorney from the director of public prosecutor’s office attended a seminar in El Salvador on the prosecution of human traffickers. An additional 12 officers attended training on victim identification and prosecution of cases in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Turks and Caicos. The government provided per diem allowances for attendees; an international organization covered the cost of travel. The government continued to train and re-train law enforcement officers in 2016 at levels consistent with last year’s reporting period.
The government maintained efforts to protect victims. Officials identified eight foreign adult female potential sex trafficking victims, compared with 12 in the previous reporting period. Authorities did not refer any of the eight victims to care facilities, reportedly because they chose to leave the country. The gender affairs bureau was designated to coordinate assistance with local NGOs. The government provided some funding to an NGO crisis center that provided shelter and psychological, medical, and reintegration services to female and child victims of violence, including potential trafficking victims; the government had a separate agreement with an NGO to shelter male victims. This organization and the government’s gender affairs bureau cooperated with other NGOs to offer additional services, although some experts noted that the referral process could be improved to make sure that relevant NGOs are contacted and involved for specialized services. Experts reported that some victims self-identify to NGOs, but those who are foreign nationals were afraid to go to law enforcement or receive government-funded services for fear of being deported. The government maintained an informal policy allowing foreign victims to receive temporary legal status as an alternative to their removal to countries where they would face hardship or retribution; the minister of national security can authorize victims to remain and work in the country for the duration of the criminal prosecution against traffickers.
The government stated that it has encouraged victim participation in the prosecution of traffickers by speaking with victims and by providing safeguards for their identities and those of their families, providing authorizations for work permits, as well as transportation and security during legal proceedings. Over the past three years, however, all foreign victims have refused to cooperate with law enforcement. According to government policy, victims are allowed to leave the country and return for hearings. The government cooperated with the countries of origin of the eight foreign victims identified in order to facilitate repatriation. The government acknowledged having insufficient funding to support multiple victims for long periods of time. Although the new TIPPA law provides victims with the right to pursue restitution from a trafficker after a conviction, there were no restitution cases in 2016. The government did not detain, jail, incarcerate, fine or deport, or otherwise penalize trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. The government provided sensitization training to 40 members of the national hotel and tourism association. Experts, however, noted a need for more resources to support training across relevant government agencies and NGOs.
The government maintained 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; the plan was pending formal adoption by the Cabinet at the close of the reporting period. Relevant government agencies and NGOs were already implementing activities within the action plan. No formal monitoring or data collection efforts were conducted during 2016. A sensitization campaign on human trafficking was conducted for 15 employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts.
As reported over the past five years, 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 have been 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. Previously, traffickers operated as part of an organization; more recently they appear to operate individually. Authorities have noted an increased use of social media as a means of trolling for victims.