St. Vincent and the Grenadines
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES: Tier 2 Watch List
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. NGOs and government officials report some adults pressure local children under the age of 18 to engage in sex acts with men in exchange for money or gifts; third-party prostitution of children under 18 is a form of human trafficking. Local officials and NGOs have also raised concerns about foreign women engaged in prostitution or foreign workers from South America and the Caribbean subjected to forced labor in or while transiting through the country. Foreign workers employed by small, foreign-owned companies are particularly vulnerable to labor trafficking. Men, women, and children are vulnerable to forced labor in the country, primarily in agriculture.
The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The government launched an anti-trafficking public awareness campaign and conducted anti-trafficking training for law enforcement, immigration, and labor officials. The government acknowledged a trafficking problem in the country for the first time; however, it neither demonstrated proactive victim identification efforts nor identified or referred any trafficking victims for care. The government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES:
Proactively identify and refer any suspected trafficking victims, particularly among vulnerable groups such as migrant workers, to appropriate care and services; promote a victim-centered approach to victim identification by involving NGOs or other victim advocates in the process; develop and adopt a national anti-trafficking plan; develop and disseminate a government-wide referral process for various types of suspected trafficking victims (child, adult, male, female, national, non-national); vigorously prosecute and convict traffickers; take potential victims to a safe location while conducting victim identification interviews, as victims often first appear as immigration or prostitution-related violators and are reluctant to disclose details of their exploitation in law enforcement settings; identify a social worker or NGO to coordinate assistance, serve as a victims’ advocate, and liaise with law enforcement; continue to raise awareness about forced labor and sex trafficking using the national campaign; and provide anti-trafficking training to diplomatic personnel.
The government demonstrated minimal anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Bill of 2011 prohibits sex trafficking and forced labor, including bonded labor, and prescribes punishments of up to 20 years’ imprisonment with fines. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers in 2014. The special police unit focusing on trafficking, sexual offenses, and domestic violence initiated three potential trafficking investigations in 2014, compared with three investigations in 2013; two of the cases were ultimately determined not to be trafficking cases. Authorities continued to investigate the third case, which allegedly involved potential human trafficking linked with drug trafficking. The government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers in 2014 and had not done so since 2009. The government did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any government officials complicit in trafficking offenses and had not done so since 2009. The anti-trafficking police unit conducted trafficking trainings for 60 law enforcement, immigration, and labor officials.
The government did not increase victim identification or provision of protective services. It did not identify or refer any potential trafficking victims for care in 2014 or 2013. The government enacted guidelines for identifying victims for law enforcement. However, it did not complete guidelines on the referral of victims to appropriate shelter and services for other government agencies, a process initiated in 2012. The government did not fund any trafficking-specific assistance programs, though it continued to provide approximately 200,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($74,000) in funding to a short-term domestic violence shelter, which could also accommodate adult women and child trafficking victims. Two different government-funded NGOs shelter boys: one shelters boys under 14 years of age and another shelters boys aged 14 to 18. The NGOs did not shelter any boys during the reporting period. The government’s anti-trafficking law contains incentives to encourage victims’ assistance in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers, including temporary and permanent residency permits. As the government did not identify any trafficking victims in 2014, no trafficking victims assisted law enforcement. The anti-trafficking law provides alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they would face hardship or retribution, though no foreign victims received such immigration relief in 2014. There were no reports the government penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking.
The government made limited progress in preventing trafficking. High-level officials acknowledged a trafficking problem in the country for the first time. The government launched an anti-trafficking public awareness campaign, which reached approximately 3,500 individuals, primarily at primary schools and faith-based institutions. The police operated an information phone line, which is advertised in their anti-trafficking outreach materials, but the government does not track the number of trafficking-related calls received. The prime minister chaired a ministerial-level national anti-trafficking taskforce. The taskforce previously developed a national action plan covering 2013-2015 and worked to update the plan for 2016-2019. The taskforce provides quarterly and annual reports to the cabinet. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel. Authorities did not recognize the problem of foreign child sex tourists in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.