The government maintained protection efforts. The government did not identify any potential trafficking victims. The NGO noted the 28 victims it identified was higher than in previous years, when it referred, on average, one individual per year; it attributed the increase to greater financial insecurity as a result of the pandemic. The government identified two child trafficking victims in 2019, zero victims between 2016 and 2018, and ten victims in 2015. Authorities used standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification, referral, and protection; the task force formally approved updates to these SOPs in March 2021. The government reported hiring 113 Cuban medical workers to assist in the pandemic response and signed a bilateral agreement with Cuba governing the work and living arrangements for the medical professionals. The government reported the agreement provided the workers with free living accommodations, free dental and medical care, and a stipend that varied based on position (i.e., doctor, nurse, or administrative). The government did not specify whether it paid the Cubans directly but said the medical workers remained in physical possession of their passports. The government did not report additional measures to screen the individuals for trafficking indicators. The police screened an unknown number of individuals involved in a human smuggling operation for trafficking indicators and did not identify any as trafficking victims. Specially trained police officers interviewed potential trafficking victims and reported generally screening for trafficking indicators when detaining or arresting individuals involved in commercial sex, migrants, and those in other vulnerable groups. Police lacked sensitization and training on sex trafficking and sex tourism, particularly involving children.
The government reported it worked with NGOs and encouraged them to report cases. The government did not maintain a dedicated shelter for trafficking victims and had an agreement with NGOs to provide shelter for victims when the need arose; the government did not report referring any victims to NGO shelters during the reporting period. The government reported it provided 72,000 XCD ($26,670) in 2020 to fund an NGO to provide victim assistance including shelter, food, clothing, and counseling services. The government allocated 81,000 XCD ($30,000) in the federal budget for trafficking-related activities in 2019, including victim protection and assistance, but no confirmed trafficking victims were identified during the reporting period. The government did not allocate any funds for victim protection in 2018 and 2017, compared with 1 million XCD ($370,370) in 2016 for victim care related to a 2015 labor trafficking prosecution. The Division of Human Services entitled victims to counseling, meals, accommodation, medical care, toiletries, clothing, and in some cases, allowances; the government did not report providing these services during the reporting period. The Office of Gender Relations could refer trafficking victims to NGOs for legal, health, advocacy, and crisis services. Adult victims were able to leave shelters at-will, but the government did not allow them to work or receive formal residency status because it considered victims wards of the state; however, the government permitted victims who were material witnesses in a criminal case to remain and work in the country. The Division of Human Services could place child victims in one of two children’s homes, but it did not report doing so during the reporting period.
The 2010 Counter-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 law also provided for victim restitution and other compensation in cases of traffickers’ conviction. The government did not report using these provisions during the reporting period. Foreign victims had the same access to care as domestic victims, and the government could assist foreign victims seeking repatriation. During the reporting period, the government granted citizenship to a Sri Lankan trafficking victim and began processing a citizenship application from another Sri Lankan trafficking victim who held refugee status; the case remained pending at the end of the reporting period.