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 increasing funding for victim assistance, publishing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for labor and health care officials, passing a legal amendment designed to enhance the government’s efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers under its anti-trafficking law, and increasing awareness efforts. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. In particular, under Jamaica’s anti-trafficking law, penalties for trafficking are not commensurate with other serious crimes. The government initiated significantly fewer investigations compared to the previous year, did not provide adequate protection for some potential or confirmed trafficking victims, and did not publish an annual report on government efforts.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR JAMAICA

Increase efforts to identify and provide comprehensive protection to victims of trafficking, including sex trafficking, forced begging, and domestic servitude of Jamaican children; vigorously investigate, prosecute, convict, and punish traffickers, including any officials complicit in sex or labor trafficking; amend the anti-trafficking law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment; develop and fully implement government-wide SOPs to guide social workers and other front-line officials in the proactive identification of local and foreign victims of forced labor and sex trafficking, including those exploited in commercial sex in nightclubs, bars, massage parlors, forced begging, and domestic servitude; dedicate adequate funding to implement the national action plan and develop a new plan before the current one expires; utilize and expand available shelters for identified trafficking victims, including male victims; allocate sufficient resources to 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; continue to support victims during the criminal justice process to ensure their availability for testimony; increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict foreign tourists and others who purchase commercial sex acts from child trafficking victims; continue cooperating with foreign authorities to prevent suspected child sex tourists from entering the country; and continue efforts to educate government officials and the public about human trafficking of both Jamaican citizens and foreign nationals.

PROSECUTION

The government maintained law enforcement efforts. The government criminalized sex and labor trafficking through its Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression, and Punishment) Act, which prescribed penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment, a fine, or both. These penalties were sufficiently stringent; however, with respect to sex trafficking, by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, these penalties were not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. The Jamaican parliament approved and enacted an amendment to the Trafficking Act to allow such cases to be tried by a judge rather than a jury.

Authorities initiated 30 new trafficking investigations, compared with 40 in the previous reporting period. Officials prosecuted three new trafficking cases against three defendants—including Jamaica’s first case of forced begging—and continued prosecuting 10 cases against 12 defendants, compared to three new cases in the previous reporting period. The government secured one conviction, compared to two in the previous reporting period. The convicted trafficker, whose prosecution began during a previous reporting period, was scheduled for sentencing in May 2018. The independent commission of investigations had authority to investigate all alleged abuses by police officers and government officials, but in practice did not pursue allegations of trafficking. The trial of the former deputy chairman of Jamaica’s anti-doping disciplinary panel, the first Jamaican official to be charged with the offense of trafficking under the anti-trafficking law, ended in January when the judge dismissed the charges. The government did not report any other investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses.

The National Task Force against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP) continued leading the government’s anti-trafficking efforts, while the Ministry of Justice housed the NATFATIP’s Secretariat and hosted monthly NATFATIP meetings. The Ministry of Justice allocated 34.8 million Jamaican dollars ($272,470) for anti-trafficking efforts in fiscal year 2017-2018. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) maintained a 19-person trafficking unit and assigned dedicated prosecutors to trafficking cases. The government trained more than 600 police officers on trafficking, compared to 1,063 in the previous reporting period. The government hosted a two-week course on trafficking investigations for 30 law enforcement officials from eight Caribbean countries and territories. The government cooperated with the governments of Antigua, The Bahamas, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago on trafficking cases.

PROTECTION

The government maintained efforts to protect victims. Authorities identified 13 confirmed trafficking victims—12 exploited in labor trafficking and one exploited in sex trafficking—during the reporting period, compared to eight confirmed victims in 2016. All but one identified victim was Jamaican. The government published victim identification SOPs for both health care officials and labor officials, and continued work on a protocol for child welfare officials, though these agencies did not report identifying any victims during the year. The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and immigration officers continued to use SOPs for victim identification and granting temporary immigration status; however; some officers reportedly failed to identify and refer potential victims. The JCF maintained an anti-trafficking unit, which interviewed potential victims and was required by law to notify NATFATIP, partner NGOs, and, in some cases, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA). There were no reports of the government referring victims to NGO-run shelter facilities; some stakeholders were not aware of, or did not fully utilize the JCF’s anti-trafficking unit services when interacting with potential trafficking victims. The JCF anti-trafficking unit could arrange for the transportation and transfer of victims to a shelter, a CPFSA facility, or private short-term accommodation, regardless of whether or not the victim cooperated with law enforcement. No identified victims during the reporting period were transferred to the government-run trafficking shelter, but other accommodations, including long-term shelter in at least one case, were provided. During the reporting period, NATFATIP provided the anti-trafficking unit with a new vehicle to be used for supporting operations and transporting victims. CPFSA shelter facilities were inadequate for potential child trafficking victims; there was a shortage of child-friendly spaces, social workers, and facilities outside of the capital. The children’s registry—which operated a national hotline for cases of child abuse, including human trafficking—received three reports of alleged child trafficking between April and September 2017, the latest data available.

The government offered protection to the 13 confirmed victims and referred them to government facilities for medical services, psychological services, and financial assistance for basic necessities. The government’s trafficking shelter, which could house 12 people, continued assisting one female victim from a previous reporting period, who received medical and dental care, psychological counseling, food and basic necessities, legal services, and access to recreation, while other identified victims either returned home or were referred to other facilities, such as hotel arrangements funded by the government. At least one victim identified during the reporting period remained in a long-term shelter arrangement. An NGO-run trafficking shelter offered educational and training services funded by the government to victims older than 16 and was capable of housing six women; the government did not refer any victims to this shelter during the reporting period. 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 reported a shortage of medical professionals trained to care for trafficking victims. The government had difficulty securing witness testimony of victims who had been repatriated and of those who feared reprisal; lengthy court cases and limited access to services exacerbated these fears and served as disincentives for victims to participate in trials. The DPP encouraged victim testimony by providing victims an overview of the criminal justice process, assigning dedicated prosecutors to develop a rapport with victims, and equipping some courtrooms for remote video testimony to enable testimony from abroad—video testimony has not been utilized in any trafficking cases.

Authorities provided more than 12 million Jamaican dollars ($93,750) for both victim assistance and protection in 2017, compared with 6.3 million Jamaican dollars ($49,220) for solely victim assistance in 2016. In accordance with Jamaica’s anti-trafficking law, the government continued providing temporary relief from deportation for one foreign national victim identified in a previous reporting period. The government coordinated with two governments to repatriate two Jamaican victims, including by preparing relevant documents and providing investigative and logistical support, but it did not provide repatriated victims with protective services. There were no reports of the government penalizing identified victims for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; however, ineffective screening of vulnerable populations for indicators of trafficking may have led to some victims being penalized.

PREVENTION

The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking. NATFATIP continued to coordinate implementation of the government’s national anti-trafficking plan valid through 2018. With funding from an international organization, NATFATIP continued drafting a national anti-trafficking policy, to supplement the already-existing national plan of action on trafficking. The cabinet appointed a national rapporteur on trafficking in 2015 to investigate reports of trafficking, report on violations of the rights of victims, and provide an annual report to the government; the rapporteur had yet to publish a report by the close of the reporting period. The government engaged in public awareness activities, including a campaign in schools and the media, a film screening, a comic book, an animated mini-series, and the distribution of 69,000 copies of a pamphlet in a leading newspaper, reaching more than 31,000 students, teachers, government officials, and community members. The government formally adopted an anti-trafficking awareness campaign sponsored by an international organization. NATFATIP, with funding from a foreign government, conducted a nation-wide trafficking awareness tour that included five town hall events and reached over 700 students and community members. The National Children’s Registry conducted over 280 training sessions to educate audiences about the registry’s role in receiving reports of child abuse, including child trafficking. The labor ministry, prior to the departure of Jamaican participants in an overseas seasonal agricultural program, educated them about the risks of trafficking. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of foreign tourists for the purchase of commercial sex acts from child trafficking victims, but authorities arrested one foreign citizen for sexual offenses committed against a child. Police conducted operations in areas known for prostitution and collaborated with the Jamaica Fire Brigade to close three suspected brothels based on building code violations. The government, in cooperation with foreign authorities, monitored foreign registered sex offenders attempting to travel to Jamaica. The government did not make 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, including boys, reportedly occurs on streets and in nightclubs, bars, massage parlors, hotels, 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 children from poor households, child victims of sexual abuse, 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. Some boys may be subjected to forced criminal activity by gang members. Child domestic workers may be subject to domestic servitude, and some children and adults are subjected to forced begging. 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.