The Government of Barbados does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. These efforts included conducting raids on nightclubs suspected of trafficking, screening vulnerable individuals for trafficking, providing anti-trafficking training for immigration officials and the police force, and conducting public awareness campaigns. However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. The government identified no victims for the past two reporting periods, initiated no new prosecutions for the fifth consecutive year, and has never secured a trafficking conviction. The government did not complete its national action plan or an anti-trafficking manual for interviewing and providing assistance for suspected trafficking victims. Government agencies continued to report a lack of resources for their anti-trafficking activities. The government’s anti-trafficking law did not provide penalties that were commensurate with other serious crimes. Therefore Barbados was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List.
Proactively screen for trafficking indicators and identify victims in vulnerable populations and areas, including children and migrants. • Vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, and apply adequate sentences. • Complete and implement an anti-trafficking manual for law enforcement on identifying, referring and protecting potential trafficking victims. • Complete and implement a national action plan to combat trafficking. • Provide adequate funding to implement the national action plan and support government agencies’ anti-trafficking activities. • Amend the anti-trafficking law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment. • Provide adequate accommodations with trauma-informed service providers for potential and identified trafficking victims. • Amend the Recruiting of Workers Act to specify the responsible government agency for the enforcement functions.
The government decreased prosecution efforts. The Trafficking In Persons Prevention Act (TIPPA) criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The penalties prescribed for adult trafficking were up to 25 years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to 1 million Barbados dollars (BDS) ($495,050), or both. The penalties prescribed for child trafficking were up to life imprisonment, a fine of up to 2 million BDS ($990,100), or both. These penalties were 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. Authorities conducted two investigations in 2018, compared with five in 2017, three in 2016, and six in 2015. Police and immigration officials conducted the investigations into suspected trafficking activities in a nightclub and the airport. Authorities did not initiate any prosecutions under the TIPPA; the government has not reported initiating a prosecution since 2013. The 2013 prosecution of two suspected traffickers remained pending before the court. The government has never convicted a trafficker. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses. The government acknowledged limited instances of men engaging children for commercial sex; however, it did not report investigating any such cases as trafficking crimes. The Immigration Department and police force conducted trafficking training and sensitization for their officials.
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.
The government maintained minimal prevention efforts. The government appointed the new attorney general to lead the government’s anti-trafficking task force, which included 10 heads of government ministries. The task force continued developing the draft 2016-2020 national action plan but reported the government diverted all resources towards a national election, delaying the plan’s development. All agencies cited a lack of resources, particularly financial, which hampered anti-trafficking efforts. The government was unable to conduct formal monitoring or data collection efforts for the third year due to budget constraints. The labor department regulated recruitment agencies under the Recruiting of Workers Act; however, the law did not identify the responsible agency for the associated enforcement functions.
The police, together with the gender affairs bureau and the child care board, jointly conducted seminars and awareness campaigns about trafficking. The government has not approved the Mandatory Reporting Protocol on Child Abuse, which addresses migrant labor conditions, employers’ legal responsibilities, and employee rights, although it has begun to promote it. The government did not report whether the labor department monitored migrant labor in the construction and agriculture sectors for trafficking indicators. The government reported providing anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel for the first time. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.
As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Barbados. Contacts report traffickers coerce foreign women into sex trafficking in Barbados. Documented and undocumented immigrants from Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, and Venezuela are especially vulnerable to trafficking, although individuals from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are increasingly vulnerable. There are anecdotal reports of parents and caregivers subjecting children to sex trafficking. Previously, traffickers operated as part of an organization; more recently, they appear to operate individually. Authorities have noted an increased use of social media as a means of recruiting victims.