The government increased 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.
Authorities investigated 10 cases of potential trafficking during the reporting period, compared with seven cases in 2018 and eight in 2017. Prosecutors determined two of the original 10 cases were trafficking, one sex trafficking, and the other domestic servitude. Out of the eight remaining cases, the police prevented a third potential labor trafficking case at the airport and referred the other seven cases to other authorities. The government did not report whether investigations for children reported to be at risk in the domestic service and retail sectors took place during the reporting period. Prosecutors charged three suspected traffickers from 2018 investigations during the reporting period. The government reported one trafficking prosecution is assigned to the high court, but the trial date will be delayed during a high court suspension of all trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the second trafficking prosecution was delayed while the government worked with INTERPOL to locate a repatriated victim. The government has never reported any trafficking convictions. In December 2019, the government amended the Trafficking In Persons Act to formally establish the Trafficking In Persons Prevention Committee (TPPC) under the Ministry of Public Safety and Labor with enforcement, research and victim advocacy functions, as well as staff accountability. The enforcement unit includes officers from police, immigration, Coast Guard, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy offices and reports to the TPPC. TPPC conducted a number of anti-trafficking trainings during the reporting year, reaching 92 police recruits and officers at the police academy and 25 police stationed at the dockyard in trafficking indicators. The task force also conducted trafficking awareness sessions for 118 customs officers, 18 taxi drivers, and 23 new airport staff.
The government reported the outcome of a 2018 police standards committee hearing with three police officers suspected of indirect involvement in a 2015 trafficking crimes case; the officers were found to be not guilty due to lack of sufficient evidence to prove the case. 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 government is cooperating with the Governments of Guyana and Jamaica to investigate both current trafficking cases initiated in the reporting period.