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.