An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


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 more suspected traffickers, identifying more victims, referring more victims to shelters, and achieving a conviction that resulted in a significant prison term. The government also conducted a wide range of training efforts for police, civil society, and government officials and maintained a budget for its specialized anti-trafficking unit. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Overall budget for anti-trafficking efforts decreased, and resource constraints and coordination issues across agencies hindered their efficacy in combatting trafficking. Although there were numerous trainings for government and civil society, victim identification and referral to appropriate services remained weak.

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 standard operating procedures to guide proactive identification of suspected trafficking victims and referral to services, including screening for indicators of trafficking among vulnerable groups.Improve efforts to employ victim-centered, trauma-informed procedures in law enforcement operations, investigations, and criminal justice proceedings, including adequate care for victims participating in court proceedings and achieving swift prosecutions.Revise and standardize referral procedures so 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, 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, for the full length of any legal proceedings.Increase budget and resources to enhance the capacity of ministries, departments, and agencies responsible for anti-trafficking law enforcement and victim protection services.Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including officials who are complicit in human trafficking.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.Strengthen and institutionalize training on human trafficking and victim-centered procedures for police, prosecutors, and judges and assign cases to trained personnel.Require victim-centered, trauma-informed restitution procedures and sufficient restitution amounts paid to victims.Increase resources available 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.Improve cooperation between law enforcement and government and NGO service providers.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.

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.

Officials investigated 41 potential sex trafficking cases and two labor trafficking cases, compared with 36 cases of sex and labor trafficking investigated in the previous reporting period, and 30 cases the year before that. Fourteen of the sex trafficking investigations originated from tips received from a national hotline for cases of child abuse, including human trafficking, operated by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA). None of the investigations originating from hotline tips resulted in any arrests or prosecutions. During the reporting period, the government initiated five new prosecutions for sex trafficking and two new prosecutions for labor trafficking, and reported that 21 total prosecutions are currently in process. In the previous reporting period, authorities initiated six prosecutions, but all were for sex trafficking offenses; they initiated three new prosecutions the year before that. The government convicted one trafficker from a 2015 child sex trafficking case and sentenced him to five years in prison for human trafficking and three years in prison for having sex with a minor, running concurrently; the trafficker also was required to pay restitution to the victim in the form of vocational training fees. Ten investigations were eventually prosecuted as non-trafficking crimes. The slow pace at which cases moved through the courts hampered efforts to hold traffickers criminally accountable and deterred victims from serving as witnesses. There were no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses, but informal information from survivors indicated that police officers were complicit in sex trafficking operations disguised as massage parlors.

The government maintained a specialized police unit with a dedicated budget that investigated human trafficking and vice crimes, as well as a team of prosecutors specialized in human rights, intellectual property, and sexual offenses. Jamaica’s specialized police unit conducted several raids of establishments suspected of human trafficking, one of which resulted in the successful identification of a child trafficking victim and arrest of a suspected trafficker. The government included a module on combatting trafficking in its basic training for all new police recruits, but did not report how many officers received this training. It reported a total of 721 police attended training or other informational sessions on human trafficking during the year. ONRTIP collaborated with a foreign donor to develop a new online training program for first responders, but this training was not implemented during the reporting period. Some individual judges had specialized trafficking experience, but there was no mechanism to assign trafficking cases to these judges. There was often a lack of courtrooms available to prosecute trafficking cases, and many victims were unwilling to testify in trafficking cases due to fear of retribution or social stigma. The government reported international police cooperation with Antigua, The Bahamas, Canada, the Cayman Islands, and the United States.

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.

The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. Jamaica’s NATFATIP, which included select nongovernmental representatives, continued to coordinate implementation of the government’s anti-trafficking national plan of action. The government has a current national action plan valid through 2021, approved during the previous reporting period. There was still a need for increased cooperation and synthesis, as well as increased resource allocation, among ministries, agencies, and departments responsible for anti-trafficking efforts.

The government allocated 27 million Jamaican dollars ($198,530) to the NATFATIP secretariat, compared with 33.4 million Jamaican dollars ($245,590) allocated during the previous fiscal year. The government did not report total expenditures on anti-trafficking activities throughout the year, but reported spending 73 million Jamaican dollars ($536,760) on anti-trafficking activities in the previous year. The government continued to maintain a database to store information on traffickers and victims, however, many agencies were not able to access this information. Throughout the year, the government continued to conduct a wide variety of training and public awareness activities to community leaders and vulnerable populations through in-person trainings, as well as television and radio campaigns. Several different government entities received specific training, including members of the Coast Guard, the public prosecution office, the human trafficking task force, as well as government leaders and diplomats beginning overseas service.

Several programs existed to support seasonal employment abroad, typically in agriculture and hospitality, and the government made efforts to eliminate unlawful recruitment agencies that could increase workers’ vulnerability to trafficking by closing several illegal employment agencies. The labor ministry continued to provide training on human trafficking to workers participating in overseas employment programs.

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. The government, in cooperation with foreign authorities, monitored foreign-registered sex offenders attempting to travel to Jamaica and prevented their entry into the country.

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 and false job offers to recruit victims. Communities vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor include young women and children from poor households, homeless LGBTI youth, residents of Jamaica’s poverty-stricken areas, migrant workers, and workers in the informal sector, particularly on family farms and in markets and shops. Traffickers subject children and adults to forced begging and women and children to domestic servitude. 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. Children from rural Jamaica, and possibly from other Caribbean countries, who are sent to live with more affluent family members or friends sometimes become exploited in forced labor in private households, markets, or shops. Reports indicate that traffickers are often women who recruit girls to exploit in sex trafficking. Gang members may exploit children in forced begging or in forced criminal activity as lookouts, armed gunmen, or couriers of weapons and drugs; there were reports that criminal organizations exploited children in forced criminal activity in lotto-scamming. Many children are reported missing in Jamaica; traffickers exploit some of these children in forced labor or sex trafficking. Traffickers have exploited Jamaican citizens in sex trafficking and forced labor abroad, including in other Caribbean countries, Canada, the United States, and the UK. Jamaican women have reported being charged high recruitment fees, being misled about their terms of employment, and compelled through threats to continue working in the United States’ hospitality industry. Traffickers exploit foreign nationals, including from South and East Asia, in 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.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future