The government decreased already minimal efforts to protect victims. Officials did not identify any trafficking victims during the past two reporting periods; this compared with eight victims identified in 2016, 12 in 2015, and five in 2014. The government screened 60 vulnerable individuals for trafficking; however, it did not report screening vulnerable children for trafficking. A UN expert noted that Barbados was a transit country for trafficked children and the government was doing little to address the problem. The government did not report any activities of the National Committee for Monitoring the Rights of the Child, which was responsible for outreach on protections for children, including against commercial sexual exploitation.
A formal referral process for government authorities and NGOs existed for victim care, as required by law. The gender affairs bureau was the designated government coordinator for local NGO assistance to victims. There was no shelter on Barbados specifically for trafficking victims. Female trafficking victims could reside at the NGO-operated women’s domestic shelter; however, this shelter did not have the resources for, and previously struggled to assist, trafficking victims. The government had a separate agreement with an NGO to provide accommodations to male victims. The child care board could care for child victims if authorities identified any.
The government maintained an informal policy allowing foreign victims to receive temporary legal status as an alternative to their removal to countries where they face hardship or retribution by traffickers; the minister of national security could authorize victims, on a case-by-case basis, to remain and work in the country. The government did not grant any such statuses during the reporting period as it identified no victims. The TIPPA authorized the government to provide safeguards for victims’ identities and those of their families, issue work permits, and provide transportation and security during legal proceedings. Government policy permitted victims to leave the country and return for hearings. The TIPPA allowed courts to order restitution from a trafficker after a conviction; however, no victims received restitution because no cases had reached conviction. The government did not complete an anti-trafficking manual to outline procedures for law enforcement or immigration to use when interviewing and assisting suspected trafficking victims begun in 2014.