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SAINT LUCIA: Tier 2

The Government of Saint Lucia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Saint Lucia remained on Tier 2. These efforts included introducing an amendment to the trafficking law so that penalties are commensurate with penalties of other serious crimes, implementing the national action plan, investigating suspected traffickers, and funding anti-trafficking prevention. The government identified the first trafficking victim since 2015. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government has not initiated a prosecution since 2015 and has never convicted a trafficker. The government did not formally approve standardized written procedures to identify victims, although law enforcement used them informally.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS:

Increase efforts to identify vulnerable individuals and screen them for trafficking.Investigate, prosecute, convict, and punish perpetrators of sex trafficking and labor trafficking.Approve the amendment to the anti-trafficking law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment for sex trafficking offenses.Reduce court backlog and pretrial detention delays affecting trafficking cases.Develop a national action plan for 2020 and onwards.Formally approve and implement standard operating procedures on a victim-centered approach to guide police, immigration, labor, child protection, judicial, and social welfare officials on victim identification and referral.Continue to train law enforcement officials to gather evidence of trafficking cases appropriate for prosecution and proactively identify sex and labor trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as children exploited in sex trafficking and migrant workers in labor trafficking, and refer them to appropriate services.Develop and implement labor recruitment policies, hire and train more inspectors for labor trafficking inspections.Provide legal mechanisms for victims to work and receive temporary formal residency status.

PROSECUTION

The government increased law enforcement efforts. The 2010 Counter-Trafficking Act criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment or fines up to 100,000 Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollars ($37,040) for offenses involving an adult victim; the maximum imprisonment penalty increased to 10 years’ imprisonment for those involving a child victim. This penalty was sufficiently stringent; however, by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the prescribed punishment for sex trafficking was not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. The Attorney General and Home Affairs Minister introduced an amendment to the 2010 Counter-Trafficking Act removing the option of a standalone fine as penalty for convicted traffickers; the amendment process was interrupted by the COVID-19 crisis. The government conducted three investigations during the reporting period, compared with two in 2018, none in 2017, and three in 2016. The government continued a pattern of not initiating prosecutions since 2015. The government has never convicted a trafficker, and all charges in trafficking investigations since 2016 were closed or dismissed. Observers report significant court backlogs and pretrial detention for all serious crimes that can last as long as six years. There is no separate budget for trafficking cases, and court resources are very limited. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses.

Both the national police force major crimes unit and the vulnerable persons unit were involved in conducting trafficking investigations. The government and INTERPOL trained 12 officers in trauma-specific interview techniques during the reporting period. The government and an international organization led several trainings during the reporting year; 16 police officers participated in two trainings on the human trafficking case management system in November 2019, and 39 police officers attended training in investigating cases of human trafficking in January 2020. The government is working with the Government of Martinique to locate a suspected trafficker and repatriate a minor trafficking victim.

PROTECTION

The government increased protection efforts. The government identified one minor trafficking victim and is working with another government to locate and repatriate them, compared with no victims identified between 2016 and 2018 and 10 victims identified in 2015. Authorities reported that children in poor communities are particularly at risk of sex trafficking, including as victims of child sex tourism by foreign tourists. The Ministers of Home Affairs, Justice, and National Security approved standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification, referral, and protection and submitted the SOPs for full Cabinet approval. There is a need for sensitization and training for police on sex trafficking and sex tourism, particularly involving children. The Department of Home Affairs and National Security implemented a new case management system for victims of trafficking. The government conducted two workshops on victim identification and referrals for civil society and health care providers. Authorities provided two workshops on victim identification and referral for diplomatic personnel and external affairs department staff. The government did not allocate any funds for victim protection in 2018 and 2017, compared with one million EC dollars ($370,370) in 2016 for victim care related to a 2015 labor trafficking prosecution.

Trafficking victims could be referred through the Office of Gender Relations to various organizations for legal, health, advocacy, and crisis services. The government did not maintain a dedicated shelter for trafficking victims and has an agreement with NGOs to shelter victims when need arises. Adult victims were able to leave at will, but the government did not allow them to work or receive formal residency status because it considered victims wards of the state. The 2018 Child Care, Protection, and Adoption Act designated the Human Services Department within the Ministry of Equity as lead on child protection issues; the impact on the coordination of child victim services was not reported. The 2010 anti-trafficking act contained victim protection provisions, such as privacy measures, the ability to testify via video link, and witness protection, to encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers. The act provided for victim restitution and other compensation in cases of traffickers’ conviction.

PREVENTION

The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking. With the support of the prime minister, the home affairs and national security ministry led an anti-trafficking task force consisting of relevant agencies and NGOs, whose mandate was re-authorized in November. As part of the national action plan ending in 2019, the task force co-funded a national anti-trafficking project with an international organization begun the year before to build capacity and increase public awareness of zero awareness of human trafficking, particularly targeting women and men ages 15-29. The campaign published information in English and French Creole on human trafficking in print and social media, radio, posters, and brochures. The task force hired a consultant to set up a website with a reporting function for human trafficking matters and social media pages to tie into media. The government provided 81,000 EC dollars ($30,000) in funding to the anti-trafficking task force for print media, part of the consultant’s salary, and victim welfare, an increase compared with 80,000 EC dollars ($29,630) provided to the anti-trafficking task force last year. The government conducted polls, which indicated that the task force’s outreach program increased public awareness of human trafficking and the government’s trafficking hotline from the prior year baseline during the reporting period.

While labor laws prohibited most forms of forced or compulsory labor, the government did not enforce them effectively, and expert observers noted there were not enough trained labor inspectors to monitor all sectors for labor trafficking and inspectors usually visited suspect areas only after receiving a complaint. The government collaborated with the Caribbean forum on a study on human trafficking in the Caribbean. With the support of an international organization, the government conducted a baseline study on public perception of trafficking, which was used to design the national awareness campaign. The government did not take measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Saint Lucia, and traffickers exploit victims from Saint Lucia abroad. Local children are exploited in sex trafficking. Government officials, civil society, and educators reported Saint Lucian children from economically disadvantaged families are at risk of unorganized commercial sexual exploitation often encouraged or forced by parents and caretakers in exchange for goods or services. Civil society has also reported women, or in some cases older teenagers, recruiting younger adolescents to provide commercial sex with adults at street parties. Documented and undocumented migrants from the Caribbean and South Asia, including domestic workers, are vulnerable to trafficking. Foreign women who work in strip clubs and in commercial sex are at risk of sex trafficking. NGOs report that disadvantaged young women from rural areas are vulnerable to sex trafficking. According to the government, business owners from Saint Lucia, India, China, Cuba, and Russia are the most likely trafficking perpetrators in the country.

U.S. Department of State

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