The Government of St. Lucia 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 St. Lucia remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by cooperating with Caribbean countries to exchange trafficking reports, conducting a series of public awareness campaigns, and training its personnel in measures to combat trafficking. The government sought international funding to build prevention and detection capacity. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not conduct any investigations, had yet to have a successful prosecution, had yet to convict a trafficker, and had not identified victims for the past two years. The government’s anti-trafficking law included sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment, which was not commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes. Since 2014, the government had not completed standardized written procedures to identify victims, and did not have sufficiently trained personnel to identify victims. The government did not provide adequate resources to implement its national action plan.
Increase efforts to identify victims; investigate, prosecute, convict, and punish perpetrators of forced labor and sex trafficking; amend the anti-trafficking law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment; provide sufficient resources to fully implement the 2015-2018 national action plan; develop a national action for the period beyond 2018; finalize and adopt standard operating procedures on a victim-centered approach to guide police, immigration, labor, child protection, judicial, and social welfare officials on victim identification and referral; continue to train government officials to implement procedures to proactively identify labor and sex trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as children exploited in sex trafficking and migrant workers in domestic service, and refer them to appropriate services; develop and implement labor recruitment policies to prevent trafficking; provide legal mechanisms for victims to work and receive formal residency status; and increase efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex and forced labor.
The government maintained minimal law enforcement efforts. The 2010 Counter-Trafficking Act criminalized sex and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to five years imprisonment or fines up to 100,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($37,040). This penalty was sufficiently stringent; however, by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the prescribed punishment for sex trafficking was not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government did not conduct any investigations during the reporting period; this compared to three in 2016 and one in 2015. The police reported monitoring suspicious establishments. The police lacked a dedicated budget for anti-trafficking efforts and sufficient personnel trained to identify trafficking.
The government did not initiate any prosecutions in the reporting period, compared to none in 2016, four in 2015, and none since 2011. In December 2017, the magistrate court dismissed the human trafficking charges against four defendants (three men from India and one from Bangladesh) in the labor trafficking case initiated in March 2015 involving 70 students from Nepal, India, and the Philippines for want of prosecution. The government had yet to convict a trafficker.
The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses. The police, judges, lawyers, and immigration officials participated in training conducted by Interpol-trained local trainers on investigation, victim identification, referral, and assistance; this included working on a plan for a raid at a potential trafficking hotspot. With technical assistance from an international organization, the government was developing a proposal for a database to manage and process trafficking cases. The government reported it cooperated regularly with other Caribbean countries to exchange trafficking information.
The government decreased protection efforts. The government did not identify any trafficking victims in the reporting period, compared with zero in 2016 and 10 in 2015. The government did not have written procedures to guide officials on the proactive identification and referral of victims. The anti-trafficking task force was working to finalize standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification and referral, but was unable to complete them due to a lack of technical expertise. At the end of the reporting period, the government sought out, collaborated with, and provided partial assistance to an international organization (along with financial assistance of a foreign government) to obtain the necessary technical expertise to finish the SOPs in 2018. The government did not spend funds on victim care or services because it did not identify any victims, compared with 1 million Eastern Caribbean dollars ($370,370) for care in 2016 for 20 victims and witnesses related to a 2015 labor trafficking prosecution. Although there was no dedicated shelter for trafficking victims, the government had six different facilities available to house victims. Through the Office of Gender Relations, trafficking victims could be referred to various organizations to provide legal, health, advocacy, and crisis services. Adult victims were able to leave at will, but were not allowed to work or receive formal residency status because the government considered victims wards of the state. The 2010 anti-trafficking act contained victim protection provisions, such as privacy and witness protection, to encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers.
The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. The home affairs, justice, and national security ministry led an anti-trafficking task force, consisting of relevant agencies and NGOs, in implementing the national action plan for 2015-2018. The government, however, did not provide sufficient financial resources to the task force to fully implement the plan. The government planned to debate a new budget, which would include funds for anti-trafficking efforts in April 2018. The task force provided some resources and worked with an NGO to design brochures and the government printed and distributed them in post offices and airports. The gender office worked with youth-related organizations to conduct awareness campaigns in secondary schools; the government also worked with an international organization to hold focus groups in secondary schools to raise awareness. The government hired a media specialist to design and implement a 10-week prevention campaign. The government was in the planning stages to execute a more comprehensive prevention campaign with an international organization. There was no current policy in place to prevent trafficking in labor recruitment. The government-funded an NGO to run a crisis hotline for victims of violence, including trafficking victims, but it received zero trafficking calls during the reporting period. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel, although the Ministry of External Affairs was expected to do so in April 2018; the task force planned the curriculum for the anti-trafficking training. The government did not conduct research or monitoring during the reporting period. The government did not take measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex or forced labor.
As reported over the past five years, St. Lucia is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Local adolescents are the groups most vulnerable to trafficking. Documented and undocumented migrants from the Caribbean and South Asia, including domestic workers, are also vulnerable to trafficking. Local children are subjected to sex trafficking. Government officials, civil society, and educators reported St. Lucian children from economically disadvantaged families are vulnerable to unorganized commercial sexual exploitation often encouraged or forced by caretakers in exchange for goods or services. Foreign women who work in strip clubs and in prostitution are also vulnerable to sex trafficking. NGOs report disadvantaged young women from rural areas are vulnerable to sex trafficking. According to the government, business owners from St. Lucia, India, China, Cuba, and Russia are the most likely trafficking perpetrators in the country. Civil society has also reported women, or in some cases older teenagers, recruiting younger adolescents to provide transactional sex with adults at street parties.