JAMAICA: Tier 2

The Government of Jamaica 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 Jamaica remained on Tier 2. These efforts included investigating and prosecuting more suspected traffickers, achieving a swift conviction that included prison time, and publishing its first annual report on trafficking in persons in Jamaica. The government also increased funding for anti-trafficking efforts. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Increased funding did not result in improved protections for victims or increased accountability for traffickers. The government identified fewer victims compared to the previous year; it provided minimal services to identified victims and did not refer any Jamaican victims to shelters; and it convicted only one trafficker. Public awareness and outreach activities were ineffective in increasing officials’ and the public’s capacity to identify and appropriately respond to suspected cases of trafficking in their communities.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS

Increase effectiveness of victim identification efforts. • Develop, fully implement, and train officials—including local police, Center for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) investigators, social workers, and justices of the peace—on government-wide SOPs to guide proactive identification of suspected trafficking victims and referral to services, including screening for indicators of trafficking among vulnerable groups. • Revise and standardize referral procedures such that authorities and the public can refer all suspected victims directly to government or NGO service providers, and make victims eligible to receive formal identification and trafficking-related services—including placement in the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), or NGO shelters—without police referral. • Increase efforts to provide more victims, whether identified in Jamaica or repatriated from abroad, with comprehensive services including legal, medical, psycho-social, shelter, case management, educational/vocational, and reintegration assistance. • Increase funding to enhance the capacity of ministries, departments, and agencies that provide victim services and to the Office of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons (ONRTIP) to fulfill its mandate to investigate reports of trafficking, report on violations of the rights of victims, and provide an annual report to the government. • Increase cooperation between law enforcement and service providers (both governmental and NGO) and increase efforts to employ victim-centered, trauma-informed procedures in law enforcement operations, investigations, and criminal justice proceedings. • Strengthen and institutionalize training on human trafficking and victim-centered procedures for police, prosecutors, and judges and assign cases to trained personnel. • Increase efforts to vigorously investigate, prosecute, convict, and punish traffickers. • Amend the anti-trafficking law to prescribe penalties for sex trafficking that are commensurate with penalties for other grave crimes, including by removing sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment and increasing the available maximum imprisonment term. • Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict foreign tourists and Jamaicans who purchase commercial sex acts from child trafficking victims. • Improve the effectiveness of efforts to educate government officials and the public about human trafficking in Jamaica through community-based outreach and education activities that are audience-specific and action-oriented, with a particular focus on identifying, responding to, and preventing trafficking crimes within communities.

PROSECUTION

The government maintained limited law enforcement efforts. The government criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking through its Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression, and Punishment) Act, which prescribed penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both for offenses involving an adult victim, and up to 30 years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both for those involving a child victim. These penalties were sufficiently stringent; however, with respect to sex trafficking, by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment and prescribing a lower maximum imprisonment term, these penalties were not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape.

Authorities reported investigating 36 potential trafficking cases during the reporting period, compared with 30 investigations during the previous reporting period and 40 the year before that. Officials initiated prosecutions against six defendants for sex trafficking offenses, an increase from three prosecutions initiated in the previous reporting period; nine prosecutions from previous years remained ongoing. Authorities dismissed two cases, and two suspects charged during a previous reporting period were released on bail and subsequently absconded. The government secured one conviction, a forced begging case initiated in 2017, compared with one conviction in the previous reporting period and two convictions two years ago. The court sentenced the convicted trafficker to two years’ imprisonment for each of eleven counts, with the eleven sentences to be served concurrently. Prosecutors obtained a plea-bargain in this case, resulting in its timely resolution. The government sentenced a sex trafficker convicted during the previous reporting period to four years and five months’ imprisonment in July 2018. In October 2018, a court dismissed an appeal and upheld a trafficking conviction from 2016, though it reduced the trafficker’s sentence from 14 to 10 years’ imprisonment. The slow pace at which other cases moved through the courts hampered efforts to hold traffickers criminally accountable and deterred victims from serving as witnesses. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses.

The government maintained a specialized police unit that investigated human trafficking and vice crimes and a team of prosecutors specialized in human rights, intellectual property, and sexual offenses. Some individual judges had specialized trafficking experience, but there was no mechanism to assign trafficking cases to these judges. The government included a module on combating trafficking in its basic training for new police recruits and provided this training to 339 police officers during the year, compared to more than 600 in the previous reporting period. Police from the anti-trafficking unit delivered a presentation on trafficking to 50 prosecutors and one to 140 judges. The government reported international police cooperation in three investigations but did not specify which governments.

PROTECTION

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.

PREVENTION

The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. NATFATIP, which included select nongovernmental representatives, continued to meet monthly and coordinated implementation of the government’s anti-trafficking national plan of action, which expired at the end of 2018. The government drafted a new plan, valid through 2021, which congress approved in March 2019. The government allocated 33.4 million Jamaican dollars ($265,080) to the NATFATIP secretariat in the Ministry of Justice, compared with 34.8 million Jamaican dollars ($276,190) during the previous fiscal year, but it reported spending a total of 73 million Jamaican dollars ($579,370) on anti-trafficking activities during the year. With funding from an international organization, NATFTIP completed a national anti-trafficking policy to supplement the national plan of action. Centralized decision-making hindered interagency cooperation at the working level and individual ministries, departments, and agencies did not allocate sufficient resources to effectively combat trafficking.

The government provided a modest increase in staff resources to ONRTIP and this office published its first report on trafficking in persons in Jamaica in July 2018. However, ONRTIP continued to lack sufficient capacity to fulfill its mandate to investigate reports of trafficking, report on violations of the rights of victims, and provide an annual report to the government. The government continued to conduct public awareness activities through television, radio, internet, and print media and conducted extensive outreach to teachers, students, government officials, and community members. The Jamaican government entered into a partnership with another government to combat child sex and labor trafficking in May 2018. The labor ministry continued to educate groups of workers on risks of trafficking prior to their departure for employment overseas. The government held a session on human trafficking and child labor for 40 private employment agents. The government, in cooperation with foreign authorities, monitored foreign registered sex offenders attempting to travel to Jamaica and prevented their entry into the country. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of foreign tourists for the purchase of commercial sex acts from child trafficking victims. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Jamaica, and traffickers exploit victims from Jamaica abroad. Sex trafficking of Jamaican women and children, including boys, reportedly occurs on streets and in nightclubs, bars, massage parlors, hotels, and private homes, including in resort towns. Traffickers increasingly use social media platforms to recruit victims. Communities vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor include young women and children from poor households, child victims of sexual abuse, residents of Jamaica’s poverty-stricken areas effectively controlled by criminal “dons,” migrant workers, and workers in the informal sector, particularly on family farms and in markets and shops. Girls, sometimes coerced by family members, are subjected to sex trafficking by men who provide monetary or material payment to the girls or their families in exchange for sex acts; local observers report this form of child sex trafficking may be widespread in some communities. Gang members may subject some boys to forced criminal activity. Traffickers subject women and children to domestic servitude and some children and adults to forced begging. Many children are reported missing in Jamaica; traffickers subject some of these children to forced labor or sex trafficking. Traffickers have subjected Jamaican citizens to sex trafficking and forced labor abroad, including in other Caribbean countries, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Traffickers subject foreign nationals to forced labor in Jamaica and aboard foreign-flagged fishing vessels operating in Jamaican waters. NGOs and other local observers report child sex tourism is a problem in Jamaica’s resort areas.

2019 Trafficking in Persons Report: Jamaica
Build a Custom Report

01 / Select A Year

02 / Select Sections

03 / Select Countries You can add more than one country or area.

U.S. Department of State

Welcome to the new State.gov

Our new design makes it easier to find and learn about the State Department’s programs and services—from passports and visas to learning how U.S. diplomacy benefits the American people.