ST. LUCIA: Tier 2
St. Lucia is a source and destination country for persons subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Legal and illegal immigrants from the Caribbean and South Asia, especially those working in domestic service, are the groups most vulnerable to human trafficking. There are indications internal prostitution of St. Lucian children occurs; third-party prostitution of children under 18 is a form of human trafficking. Foreign women in prostitution are also vulnerable to sex trafficking. According to police and NGOs, pimps, strip club operators, and brothel owners are the most likely sex trafficking perpetrators in the country. St. Lucian citizens are subjected to trafficking in the United Kingdom and other Caribbean countries. Off duty police officers sometimes provided security for sex trade establishments.
The Government of St. Lucia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government reported an investigation and prosecution of four South Asian men for potentially subjecting youth from India, Nepal, and the Philippines to trafficking, but did not report any convictions of traffickers, including government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses. The government identified 70 potential trafficking victims; activated the interagency anti-trafficking taskforce; and offered food, housing, and medical assistance to the potential victims. However, concerns arose about a lack of coordination among agencies and with NGOs. Officials provided ongoing assistance to four previously identified sex trafficking victims and trained relevant professionals on trafficking. The government made few discernible efforts to prevent trafficking.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ST. LUCIA:
Identify and provide assistance to victims, including prostituted children under 18; vigorously prosecute, convict, and punish perpetrators of forced labor and sex trafficking, including officials complicit in human trafficking; provide and encourage the use of standard operating procedures on a victim-centered approach to guide police, immigration, labor, child protection, and social welfare officials in the proactive identification of trafficking victims and their referral to appropriate services; train and encourage government officials to implement procedures to proactively identify labor and sex trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as migrant workers in domestic service; take steps to address the alleged complicity of government officials in trafficking crimes; provide anti-trafficking training to diplomats; develop and launch a national campaign to raise awareness about forced labor and sex trafficking; and finalize and adopt a national anti-trafficking action plan.
The Government of St. Lucia increased efforts to investigate traffickers. The government prohibits all forms of trafficking through the 2010 Counter-Trafficking Act, which prescribes punishments of five to 10 years’ imprisonment with fines of up to 100,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($37,000). These penalties are sufficiently stringent but not commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape. The Act also prohibits the unlawful holding of identification documents and allows for asset forfeiture of persons convicted of trafficking. The government investigated and charged four South Asian men with potential trafficking, internet fraud, and money laundering crimes involving youth from Nepal, India, and the Philippines; this represents an increase from the previous year when it did not initiate any investigations nor charge any trafficking defendants. The government did not report prosecuting or convicting any traffickers or public officials complicit in trafficking in the past four years. Security for sex trade establishments was reportedly sometimes provided by off-duty police officers, an arrangement that risked inhibiting law enforcement’s willingness to investigate allegations of trafficking in the sex trade and victims’ willingness to report to law enforcement. Official police policy prohibited involvement in illegal activities and prescribed an administrative or criminal penalty. The Ministry of National Security reported providing anti-trafficking training to approximately 170 police officers, social service providers, child welfare workers, social workers, and health workers from May through October 2014.
The government increased efforts to protect trafficking victims. Authorities identified 70 potential victims of trafficking from Nepal, India, and the Philippines who were allegedly fraudulently recruited to be students at an academy in preparation for jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry, enticed to pay $9,000 to $13,000 for their courses, coerced to work without pay, forced to live in substandard housing without running water and electricity, threatened with deportation, and had their passports confiscated. Observers reported the government offered food, housing, and medical assistance to the potential victims. However, observers also alleged the government did not adequately screen potential victims for trafficking indicators, did not effectively coordinate among government agencies and with NGOs, and used the threat of deportation against victims. Some victims were cooperating with the ongoing investigation. The government partnered with an international organization to provide ongoing assistance to four potential sex trafficking victims identified in 2013. An international organization assisted the government in drafting formal procedures to guide law enforcement, health, and other officials in how to identify victims and refer them to available protection and assistance services; however the procedures had not been finalized at the close of the reporting period. Authorities provided anti-trafficking awareness training to health workers and shelter workers, and had an ad hoc practice of referring victims to legal, advocacy, and crisis services regardless of legal status. The government provided 800,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($296,000) to one NGO shelter caring for victims of abuse, in which trafficking victims could seek assistance; shelter staff could make referrals to five other facilities as needed. The 2010 Counter-Trafficking Act contains victim protections such as witness protection and privacy of information to encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers. The Act protects trafficking victims from prosecution for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking and protects foreign victims from deportation. It also provides for restitution to all victims and immigration relief to foreign national victims. The government did not report extending any of these protections to victims during the reporting period.
The government made minimal efforts to prevent trafficking. It operated no national campaign to raise awareness about forced labor and sex trafficking. The interagency taskforce met monthly and continued to review an anti-trafficking national action plan drafted during the previous reporting period. The government funded a hotline for victims of violence, including trafficking victims, but no human trafficking calls were received during the reporting period. 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. The government has not identified child sex tourism as a problem in St. Lucia.