Jamaica

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Tier 2

JAMAICA: Tier 2

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 demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Jamaica remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by securing two convictions, prosecuting nine trafficking cases against 13 alleged traffickers, and investigating 40 potential new trafficking cases. The government developed a new victim protection protocol for health, labor, and child welfare officials, identified eight trafficking victims who were provided government shelter and services, and increased awareness-raising efforts. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not hold complicit officials accountable, publish a standard victim protection protocol, or publish an annual report monitoring its efforts.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR JAMAICA

Vigorously prosecute, convict, and punish traffickers, including any officials complicit in sex or labor trafficking; increase efforts to identify and assist victims of forced labor and sex trafficking, including sex trafficking of Jamaican children; dedicate adequate funding to implement the national action 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 exploited in commercial sex in night clubs, bars, and massage parlors; continue to support victims during the criminal justice process whether the victim resides in Jamaica or abroad to ensure the admissibility of testimony; implement the national rapporteur’s 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 maintained 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 sentence for trafficking in persons and conspiracy to commit trafficking is up to 20 years imprisonment, a fine, or both. The sentence for aggravated trafficking in persons—in cases of serious injury, repeat offenses, or by a person in a position of authority among other factors—is up to 30 years imprisonment, a fine, or both. These penalties are sufficiently stringent; however, when allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the prescribed punishment is not commensurate with those 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. The Jamaican cabinet approved an amendment to the Trafficking Act to allow such cases to be tried by a judge rather than a jury; the parliament will consider the amendment in 2017.

Authorities initiated 40 new trafficking investigations compared with 30 in 2015; 30 of these investigations led to police operations in search of traffickers, victims, and evidence. Officials prosecuted three new trafficking cases and continued prosecuting six trafficking cases against 10 alleged traffickers compared to nine cases against 10 alleged traffickers in the previous reporting period. The government secured two convictions, compared to two in the previous reporting period. The primary trafficker received concurrent sentences of 16 years for rape, 14 years for trafficking in persons, and 10 years for facilitating trafficking in persons and was ordered to pay two million Jamaican dollars ($15,630) in restitution to the victim. The other trafficker received a three-year suspended sentence. The independent commission of investigations had authority to investigate all alleged abuses by police officers and government officials, but in practice does not pursue allegations of trafficking. 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 remained ongoing at the close of the reporting period.

The Ministry of Justice allocated $32.5 million Jamaican dollars ($253,900) for anti-trafficking efforts in fiscal year 2016-2017. The government trained 1,063 police officers on trafficking, compared to 563 in the previous reporting period. The Jamaican Constabulary Force (JCF) trained 70 judges and approximately 2,000 justices of the peace responsible for deciding whether a minor can leave the country with a non-parent custodian. Jamaican officials also participated in trafficking in persons trainings funded by foreign government and international organization sources. The government cooperated with the governments of the United Kingdom, Antigua, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago on trafficking cases.

PROTECTION

The government maintained efforts to protect victims. Authorities identified eight confirmed trafficking victims—all females—during the reporting period, compared to four confirmed victims—three men and one girl—in 2015. The government developed a victim protection protocol and a standard operating procedure for health, labor, and child welfare officials, but these had not been published. Other government officials continued to use a standard operating procedure for victim identification and granting temporary immigration status; these procedures recently led to the identification of two minor trafficking victims and a referral to the JCF anti-trafficking unit. The JCF anti-trafficking unit, when taking trafficking victims into protective custody, was required to notify the taskforce, partner NGOs, and, in some cases, the Child Development Agency. The JCF anti-trafficking unit then made arrangements for the transportation and transfer of victims to a shelter care facility, either NGO- or government-run, which provided services regardless of whether or not the victim cooperated with law enforcement. Immigration officials continued to screen and conduct risk assessments of potential victims. The children’s registry did not report reports received of suspected trafficking cases for this reporting period compared to 52 reports of suspected trafficking in the previous reporting period.

The government offered protection to the eight 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, assisted two female victims, who received medical and dental care, psychological counseling, food and basic necessities, legal services, and access to recreation. The government reportedly provided support to victims after their departure from government shelters on a case-by-case basis, including medical and psychological care. The government had difficulty securing witness testimony of victims who had been repatriated and of those who feared reprisal. The government encouraged victim testimony by providing victims an orientation to the criminal justice process and equipping some courtrooms for remote video testimony to enable testimony from abroad. Authorities provided 6.3 million Jamaican dollars ($49,220) for victim assistance in 2016, compared with 13 million Jamaican dollars ($101,600) for victim assistance in 2015. In accordance with Jamaica’s anti-trafficking law, the government provided relief from deportation for one foreign national victim identified in the previous reporting period; this relief also included food, long-term shelter, education, and counseling. The government coordinated with another Caribbean government in preparation for the repatriation of a Jamaican victim, including by preparing relevant documents. 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 trafficking. The national anti-trafficking taskforce, through sub-committees on prevention, protection, and prosecution, continued to implement its national anti-trafficking plan valid through 2018. The Ministry of National Security spent 813,000 Jamaican dollars ($6,350) toward anti-trafficking prevention efforts in fiscal year 2016-2017. The cabinet appointed a national rapporteur on trafficking in persons in early 2015 to investigate reports of trafficking, report on violations of the rights of victims, and provide an annual report to the government; the rapporteur planned to release this report in 2017. The government engaged in public awareness activities on all forms of trafficking, including a campaign in schools and the media, a film screening, a comic book, an animated mini-series, and the distribution of 70,000 copies of a pamphlet in a leading newspaper. The government’s efforts resulted in the sensitization of more than 17,000 students, teachers, government officials, and community members. 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 screening of 23 individuals for trafficking indicators and detention of several purchasers of commercial sexual services. 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.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, 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. Traffickers increasingly use social media platforms to recruit victims. 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 young women and girls from poor and single-parent households, residents of Jamaica’s poverty-stricken areas effectively controlled by criminal “dons,” migrant workers, 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.