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The Government of Antigua and Barbuda does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Antigua and Barbuda remained on Tier 2. These efforts included amending the trafficking law so that penalties are commensurate with penalties of other serious crimes, passing a national action plan for 2019 to 2021, drafting formal standard operating procedures on victim referral specific to each agency, increasing training on indicators of trafficking, and liaising with another government on trafficking investigations. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not initiate any prosecutions and identified fewer victims. To date, the government has failed to convict a trafficker, and did not report the decision on penalties for complicit police officers in a 2015 case during the reporting period.

Vigorously investigate, prosecute, convict and punish traffickers, including complicit officials. • Increase efforts to identify victims through proactive screening of vulnerable populations, such as migrants and individuals in commercial sex. • Provide adequate funding to implement the national action plan across all agencies. • Fully implement government-wide standard operating procedures to guide front line agencies on proactive identification and referral of local and foreign victims of forced labor and sex trafficking. • Develop formal agreements with international organizations and countries for cooperation and information sharing, including on evidence and data collection, and conducting joint investigations on trafficking cases. • Conduct and publish reports on government anti-trafficking efforts and accomplishments.

The government maintained prosecution efforts. The 2010 Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Act criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 400,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($148,150) for offenses involving an adult victim, and up to 25 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 600,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($222,220) for those involving a child victim. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. During the reporting period, the government adopted amendments to the trafficking law, notably removing penalty provisions that previously allowed for fines in lieu of imprisonment for trafficking offenses. Authorities investigated seven cases of potential trafficking, compared to eight in 2017. One of the investigations arose out of a joint, multi-country operation involving the national Trafficking in Persons Prevention Committee (TPPC), police, immigration and other agencies, and Interpol in a raid on two nightclubs. Five of the investigations arose from referrals from immigration officials to the TPPC under an inter-departmental memorandum of understanding. Upon review of the seven new investigations, prosecutors determined only three were trafficking-related. In two cases, the victims chose not to assist the investigation and returned home and the government did not prosecute those cases. Authorities determined the third case was not trafficking. Four of eight investigations begun in 2017 were still pending at the end of the reporting period. Prosecutors did not initiate any new prosecutions during the past two reporting periods. The government has never reported any trafficking convictions, due in part to judicial delays.

The police standards committee completed a hearing on a pending 2015 case of three police officers suspected of indirect involvement in trafficking crimes, but it did not publish the penalties for the officers. Over the past three years, the police force typically chose administrative sanctions for officers suspected or implicated in trafficking, rather than charging them with a crime under the country’s trafficking laws. The government did not report any other investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses. The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Secretariat and the Education Task Force trained a total of 108 police officers, labor inspectors, labor union officials, immigration officers, airline employees, and TPPC members in using trafficking indicators. The TPPC, together with an international organization, also trained 19 police officers to be trainers, enabling them to conduct future trainings in-house. The government liaised with Jamaican and Trinidadian government authorities on trafficking cases.

The government increased protection efforts. The government had formal written procedures to guide law enforcement, immigration, and social services officials in screening and identification of potential victims. The government identified five victims (all adult females from Jamaica), compared to nine victims in 2017. The TPPC, police, immigration, and Interpol identified the victims in a joint operation in which they screened 47 vulnerable individuals for trafficking. All five identified victims received medical care, lodging, clothing, and repatriation assistance and had the option of participating in an international agency reintegration program. The TPPC provided an on-call consultant physician to provide medical care to victims for the first time. The gender affairs unit provided shelter for one labor trafficking victim during the reporting period. TPPC, together with an international organization, drafted agency-specific standard operating procedures for immigration, labor, law enforcement, and healthcare personnel to refer victims to care. The gender affairs department, which worked with its network of providers, was responsible for supplying care to the victims and obtained in-kind contributions for victim care donated from businesses. The government operated a crisis center for trafficking victims and victims of gender-based violence.

The government trained 36 doctors and nurses, 14 aviation managers, seven business owners, and 50 police recruits in victim screening and identification. All five identified victims cooperated with law enforcement investigations, which led to charges against a suspected trafficker. The government could provide temporary residency status for foreign victims who desired to stay in the country; this assistance was not contingent on assisting law enforcement. The government allowed testimony via video or written statement, although they had not used these methods in court to date. The government provided victim identification training for 107 participants from the police, medical professions, aviation management, and business.

The government maintained prevention efforts. The government approved the new 2019 to 2021 national action plan; however, it decreased the budget for anti-trafficking efforts to 53,242 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($19,720), compared to 330,430 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($122,380) in 2017 and 109,410 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($40,520) in 2016. The government received in-kind donations from businesses for awareness print material and public service announcements. The regular budget of the gender affairs department funded social services for victims. Government agencies, however, cited lack of human resources as a key deficiency in increasing anti-trafficking efforts. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of National Security and Labor chaired the TPPC, the coordinating body for anti-trafficking efforts. The TPPC, which included representatives from various government agencies and one NGO, oversaw implementation of the 2019-2021 national action plan. While government agencies cited lack of funding as a key deficiency in increasing anti-trafficking efforts, the TPPC noted that they had adequate funding during the reporting period.

The working-level anti-trafficking unit within the Ministry of National Security worked under the TPPC on the coordination of anti-trafficking training and hosted a variety of anti-trafficking activities around the country. The TPPC made awareness presentations to schools, community groups, NGOs, churches, and college students. The TPPC jointly trained medical professionals including 21 doctors, 100 nurses, and 15 emergency room staff on trafficking indicators with international partners. The government held an anti-trafficking week of prevention activities in collaboration with NGOs and social partners for a second year. The TPPC hosted online chats, produced public service announcements, placed billboards around the country, and designed and presented plays at 10 primary, secondary, and tertiary schools. The gender affairs department provided awareness training in its gender-based violence awareness sessions. The government had completed, but not published, its 2018 annual report on anti-trafficking efforts by the end of the reporting period. The government did not report any trafficking calls to a 24-hour gender-based violence hotline that also served trafficking victims. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Antigua and Barbuda, and traffickers exploit victims from Antigua and Barbuda abroad. Documented and undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean region, notably Jamaica, Guyana, and the Dominican Republic, are vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor. Authorities reported an increased number of trafficking victims in multiple-destination trafficking, arriving in Antigua and Barbuda for a few months before their traffickers exploited them in other Caribbean countries such as St. Kitts and Nevis and Barbados. Sex trafficking occurs in bars, taverns, and brothels, including with minor girls. There are anecdotal reports of parents and caregivers subjecting children to sex trafficking. Forced labor occurs in domestic service and the retail sector, particularly in family-owned businesses. There have been reports of trafficking-related complicity by police officers who tend to receive administrative sanctions instead of being tried under the trafficking law.

U.S. Department of State

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