BARBADOS: Tier 2
Barbados is a source country for children subjected to sex trafficking and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Authorities and NGOs report foreign women have been forced into prostitution in Barbados. Foreigners are subjected to forced labor in Barbados, most notably in domestic service, agriculture, and construction. Legal and undocumented immigrants from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Guyana are especially vulnerable to trafficking. Child sex trafficking occurs in Barbados. Authorities and NGOs also report parents or caregivers subject local and foreign children of both sexes to commercial sex.
The Government of Barbados does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government acceded to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol in October 2014, drafted amendments to its anti-trafficking law to prohibit all forms of human trafficking, and began developing a government-wide anti-trafficking manual. The government did not identify any new trafficking victims, but assisted previously identified trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government did not convict any traffickers; however, police investigated a government official for alleged complicity in sex trafficking crimes.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BARBADOS:
Enact and implement amendments to the anti-trafficking law to prohibit all forms of human trafficking and prescribe penalties that are sufficiently stringent (without an alternative of a fine) and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape; convict trafficking offenders, including complicit officials, and provide appropriate sentences for their crimes; train law enforcement and prosecutors in proactively identifying, obtaining, preserving, and corroborating evidence to reduce dependence on victim testimony; train and encourage government officials to implement procedures to proactively identify labor and sex trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as Barbadians and foreigners in prostitution and migrant workers; provide adequate funding to organizations that assist trafficking victims; continue to enhance partnership with Barbados’ NGO community to combat human trafficking; provide anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel; and make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.
The government made some efforts to prosecute traffickers, including a government official complicit in human trafficking, and acceded to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol; however, there were no convictions of traffickers in 2013 or 2014. Barbadian law does not prohibit all forms of human trafficking, in particular internal domestic trafficking, and does not prescribe penalties for prohibited forms of trafficking that are sufficiently stringent or commensurate with the prescribed penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape. Articles 18, 20, 33, and 34 of the Offenses against the Person Act and Article 8 of the Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) Act of 2011 all address trafficking in persons. Compelling prostitution under Article 20 of the Offenses against the Person Act is punishable by five years’ imprisonment, while the transnational trafficking of an adult under the TOC Act is punishable by a potential fine with no jail time, both of which are not commensurate with Barbados’ prescribed penalty for rape, which is life imprisonment. The government drafted amendments to the TOC Act to criminalize internal domestic trafficking and indicated amendments would be introduced in 2015. Authorities investigated eight new potential trafficking cases during the reporting period, but only one of the eight suspected cases was determined to be trafficking, and other cases were determined to be fraud or prostitution without all the elements of sex trafficking. The one trafficking case did not result in a prosecution because prosecutors were unable to proceed without the victim’s testimony against the alleged trafficker. Authorities continued investigating an immigration official for alleged complicity and misconduct in public office as a result of an April 2013 raid of a local brothel and expected the case to go to trial in 2015. By comparison, authorities initiated three new investigations and no prosecutions the previous year.
The government made minimal progress in the protection of victims. Officials did not identify any new victims, a decrease from identifying five victims during the previous reporting period. The government continued to shelter the five previously identified victims for part of the reporting period prior to four of the victims’ return to Guyana. The government continued to shelter the remaining victim, who received basic education and occupational training, and cooperated with the police to provide evidence against the alleged traffickers in the case. Law enforcement generally referred victims to the gender affairs bureau, which coordinated assistance with local NGOs; the NGOs reported the mechanism worked, but the government is developing a written referral procedure. The government had an agreement with an NGO to provide shelter for male victims of trafficking, though this NGO did not assist any male trafficking victims. Authorities provided some funding to an NGO crisis center that provided shelter and psychological, medical, and occupational services to female victims of violence, including potential trafficking victims, but this funding did not cover costs. This organization and the government’s gender affairs bureau cooperated with other NGOs to offer additional services. The government maintained an informal policy allowing foreign victims to receive temporary legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they would face hardship or retribution and provided one victim with temporary residency in 2014. NGOs did not report any trafficking victims detained, deported, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking.
The government made progress in efforts to prevent trafficking. The attorney general led the government’s anti-trafficking taskforce, which met monthly and included permanent secretaries from several ministries and NGOs. The taskforce began developing a government-wide anti-trafficking manual, which officials indicated would include details on how authorities should treat victims. The government developed and implemented its annual national action plan to address trafficking in collaboration with various government agencies and NGOs, which resulted in improved cooperation among various agencies. An NGO, with support from the attorney general’s office, sponsored a public education campaign on trafficking that included radio public service announcements and community meetings in several churches. Additionally, authorities mounted a poster at the international airport listing elements of trafficking and a hotline victims could use for assistance. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.