The government maintained weak efforts to protect victims. While it increased funding for victim services, it identified a small number of victims, and identified victims received minimal services before authorities returned them to their homes. Authorities identified six sex trafficking victims, including five Jamaican children and one Chinese woman, a decrease from 13 victims identified during the previous reporting period. The government had written guidelines to assist healthcare workers, labor officials, diplomats, and officers in the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) anti-trafficking unit in proactively identifying potential trafficking victims. However, key stakeholder groups such as front-line police officers, CISOCA investigators, and social workers lacked standard procedures to screen for indicators of trafficking among the vulnerable populations they assisted. The children’s registry operated a national hotline for cases of child abuse, including human trafficking, and received four reports of suspected child trafficking between April and December 2018; the government did not identify any victims as a result of these calls. Media reports and observations from NGOs indicated officials often failed to recognize indicators of trafficking—such as children receiving financial or material compensation for sex acts—among the cases they handled, and therefore did not identify these victims and refer them to care. Some police outside the anti-trafficking unit reported they lacked sufficient training on trafficking.
The government provided counseling, short-term accommodation in the NATFATIP trafficking shelter, and food and clothing for the foreign victim before repatriating her to China. The government reported providing medical care and counseling to the five Jamaican child victims, whom authorities returned to their families. The government did not refer any Jamaican victims to government or NGO shelters during the reporting period. Although several agencies had written procedures to guide trafficking victim referral, these procedures were sometimes vague and the government typically required all reports of suspected trafficking to go through the JCF’s anti-trafficking unit. Officers from this unit interviewed potential victims and, in consultation with the NATFATIP secretariat, arranged confirmed victims’ access to shelter and other services on a case-by-case basis.
During the reporting period, NATFATIP spent 17 million Jamaican dollars ($134,920) to renovate its trafficking shelter—which could accommodate 12 female victims—and 14 million Jamaican dollars ($111,110) on protection and assistance to victims. Most victims did not benefit from the shelter renovations; apart from the Chinese victim, the NATFATIP shelter assisted only one other victim, who has been a resident since 2013. The government continued to provide her with services and access to education but did not provide her with reintegration support to facilitate her long-term safety, wellbeing, and independence outside the shelter. The government provided school tuition, supplies, and financial assistance to support another victim identified in a previous reporting period. In addition to the NATFATIP shelter, authorities could place child victims in CPFSA facilities and female victims in NGO-operated shelters that were not exclusive to trafficking victims. There were no shelters for adult male victims. One NGO shelter could offer government-funded training and educational services to victims older than 16, but it did not assist any trafficking victims during the year. CPFSA had a protocol for providing services to child trafficking victims under the agency’s care, and the government had victim management guidelines for facilities that provide care to victims of trafficking in Jamaica. In practice, however, officials referred few victims to shelter facilities unless they assessed an immediate threat to the victim’s safety.
The government encouraged victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions and it provided one victim with a “court orientation” to overview the criminal justice process. However, it did not allocate adequate human or financial resources to provide victims with sustained support during legal processes. Local observers reported criminal justice officials often failed to employ a victim-centered approach, and victims lacked incentives to serve as witnesses in trials. Years-long court cases, re-traumatization through the criminal justice process, and fear of reprisal served as further disincentives for victims to report cases or participate in trials.
Although Jamaica’s anti-trafficking law directed the court to order restitution to victims in a criminal case, courts did not award restitution to any trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government continued providing temporary relief from deportation for one foreign national victim identified in a previous reporting period. A foreign government reported it repatriated five Jamaican sex trafficking victims during the reporting period, although these victims did not receive assistance from the Jamaican government. Jamaican law protected trafficking victims from prosecution for immigration or prostitution-related offences traffickers compelled them to commit, but it did not provide immunity for other unlawful acts traffickers compelled victims to commit. Ineffective screening of vulnerable populations for indicators of trafficking may have resulted in authorities penalizing some victims.