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.