The government maintained efforts to protect victims. The government reported spending seven million Jamaican dollars ($51,470) on protection and assistance to victims, in comparison to 14 million Jamaican dollars ($102,940) spent in the previous reporting period. The anti-trafficking police unit reported ten victims identified during the reporting period, compared with six victims identified during the previous reporting period. The victims identified included five labor trafficking victims—one Jamaican male child, two Indian adult males, one Honduran adult male, and one Chinese adult male—as well as five Jamaican victims of sex trafficking—four adult women and one female child. The government reported that three Jamaican trafficking victims were identified and repatriated from abroad by foreign authorities. The government had written guidelines available 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, the CISOCA investigators, and social workers lacked standardized procedures to screen for indicators of trafficking among the vulnerable populations they assisted.
The government reported referring six victims, including one victim repatriated from Antigua, to accommodations that included National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons’ (NATFATIP) trafficking victim shelter, temporary private lodging, and the CPFSA children’s shelter; victims remained in these facilities between three months and one year. At the close of the reporting period, the NATFATIP shelter was serving five victims. The government reported that victims were provided with additional services while receiving accommodation, including medical and psychological care, food, and clothing. Other victims that were not referred to shelters were returned to their homes. The government reported that victims who did not receive accommodations received services including food, medical care, and psychological care, but did not provide additional details on the duration or scope of these services. There were several written guidelines available to assist in proactively identifying potential trafficking victims, however, these procedures were sometimes vague, and the government typically required all reports of suspected trafficking to go through the JCF’s anti-trafficking unit. Police officers 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. In practice, such decisions rested largely on police assessment of threats to a victim’s physical safety when offering protective services, with fewer resources provided for other kinds of victim support. Several government agencies began working with a donor-funded NGO to develop a national referral mechanism for child trafficking victims, but this was not finalized during the reporting period.
In addition to the NATFATIP government shelter, which could accommodate 12 female victims, 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 that could accommodate adult male victims, but the government reported providing temporary accommodation to one adult male in private lodging. 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 provided care to victims of trafficking in Jamaica. In June 2019, ONRTIP published a handbook for victims of trafficking outlining services available to them, as well as their rights.
Foreign victims were able to access the same services as Jamaican national victims. The government provided Jamaican citizenship and a passport to a Haitian victim who had been a resident of the NATFATIP shelter since 2013 and continued to fund her vocational training. However, the government did not give any information on efforts to help her safely transition to long-term independence outside the shelter. One Jamaican victim repatriated from Antigua received shelter, medical care, and psychological services. Two victims repatriated from The Bahamas returned to their homes and did not receive protective care. Police reported conducting regular patrols in these victims’ communities to ensure their safety. The government reported repatriating one victim to China.
The government encouraged victims to participate in the judicial process through the availability of an optional court orientation, as well as the capability to testify through video, but the government did not indicate to what extent victims utilized these services. Victims were often unwilling to participate in trials due to fear of retribution, and the government did not allocate adequate courtrooms or resources to provide victims with sustained support during legal processes. Authorities did not always employ victim-centered procedures, which further disincentivized victims from reporting cases or participating in trials, including temporarily holding victims in police stations, subjecting victims to drawn-out court processes over several years, and re-traumatizing victims through continued contact with their traffickers.
Jamaica’s anti-trafficking law directed the court to order restitution to victims. The court ordered one trafficker convicted in a child sex trafficking case to pay a nominal restitution fee to cover the victim’s vocational training costs, with the total amount equaling 36,000 Jamaican dollars ($260). However, reports indicated that this arrangement will require the trafficker to make tuition payments to the school on a semester-by-semester basis, giving the perpetrator substantive knowledge of the victim’s whereabouts and preventing the victim’s financial independence from her trafficker. Jamaican law protected trafficking victims from prosecution for immigration or prostitution-related offenses traffickers compelled them to commit, but it did not provide immunity for other unlawful acts traffickers might have compelled victims to commit. Ineffective screening of vulnerable populations for indicators of trafficking may have resulted in authorities penalizing some victims.