The government decreased 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.
The government did not report any new investigations during the reporting period, compared to ten cases investigated in 2019 and seven in 2018. Authorities continued to investigate one sex trafficking case and one forced labor case initiated in previous reporting periods. The government did not report investigations of suspected child trafficking in domestic service and the retail sector. There were anecdotal reports of parents and caregivers exploiting children in sex trafficking. The government did not report initiating any prosecutions during the reporting period, compared to three prosecutions in the previous reporting period. Authorities continued to prosecute three suspected traffickers from 2018 who still awaited trial at the end of the reporting period. The government did not report convicting any traffickers for the second consecutive year. The government reported that police and the courts revised their operating procedures to address pandemic-related health concerns, resulting in limitations on investigations and judicial proceedings. The government reported that serious criminal cases, including trafficking cases, required in-person jury trials unless the defendant was pleading guilty or in rare instances where the case involved no witnesses. As jury trials by law could not take place remotely, no trafficking or other serious criminal cases were prosecuted for the entire reporting period after jury trials ceased in March 2020 due to the pandemic. The government reported this led to substantial court backlogs, exacerbating already existing substantial delays. During the reporting period and in cooperation with a foreign donor, the government created the ability to hold virtual hearings for civil cases, case management hearings, bail applications, and criminal cases with no witnesses or where the defendant plead guilty.
The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Committee (TPPC) oversaw the Trafficking in Persons Prevention Unit (TIP Unit), created during the reporting period, which included four full-time staff and an unspecified number of law enforcement officers drawn from the police, immigration, Coast Guard, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy who were knowledgeable about human trafficking, victim services, and investigations. The TIP Unit served as the investigative arm of the TPPC and was solely responsible for investigating trafficking, implementing the national human trafficking prevention objectives, and increasing anti-trafficking awareness efforts to improve overall efficiency. The government conducted random inspections of businesses suspected of being involved in commercial sex. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses. There were reports of trafficking-related complicity by police officers who tended to receive administrative sanctions instead of being tried under the trafficking law. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to law enforcement due to pandemic restrictions that halted in-person training; the Police Academy’s training manual included trafficking crimes. Authorities approached one country in the region for assistance with a trafficking investigation.