ST. LUCIA: Tier 2 Watch List
St. Lucia is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Documented and undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean and South Asia, including domestic workers, are the groups most vulnerable to human trafficking. Local and foreign children are subjected to sex trafficking, including by parents and caregivers. Foreign women in prostitution are also vulnerable to sex trafficking. NGOs report disadvantaged young women from rural areas are vulnerable to sex trafficking. According to the government, business owners from St. Lucia, India, China, Cuba, and Russia are the most likely trafficking perpetrators in the country.
The Government of St. Lucia does not fully meet 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. Lucia is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The government initiated one labor trafficking investigation in the reporting period, and reported four prosecutions and no convictions. The government has never convicted a trafficker. The government identified one new trafficking victim, and verified nine victims out of the 69 individuals who were initially identified as potential victims in the previous reporting period. The 10 identified victims received housing, medical care, and legal counsel. The government offered long-term housing to some of the 60 individuals who were initially identified as potential victims in the previous reporting period, but these individuals complained about the quality of care received. The government trained four officials on criminal justice and assistance to trafficking victims; 19 taskforce members, including NGOs, on formulation of a national action plan; and 10 police officers on victim-centered law enforcement efforts. The government drafted a national action plan and planned a prevention campaign, in coordination with an international NGO, but did not implement either.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ST. LUCIA:
Vigorously prosecute, convict, and punish perpetrators of forced labor and sex trafficking, including officials complicit in human trafficking; take measures, respective of due process, to enhance the speed with which trafficking cases are prosecuted; increase efforts to identify and provide assistance to victims; adopt standard operating procedures on a victim-centered approach to guide police, immigration, labor, child protection, and social welfare officials; train government officials to implement procedures to proactively identify labor and sex trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as migrant workers in domestic service and children exploited in prostitution, and refer them to appropriate services; implement a national public awareness campaign about forced labor and sex trafficking and publicize the hotline for victims of violence, including trafficking victims; finalize and adopt a national action plan to combat trafficking; address shortcomings in the law so penalties for trafficking are commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape; and provide anti-trafficking training to diplomats.
The government maintained minimal efforts to investigate and prosecute traffickers. The 2010 Counter-Trafficking Act prohibits all forms of trafficking, punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment or fines of up to 100,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($37,000), or both. These penalties are not commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape, and those which allow for imposition of fines are not sufficiently stringent. The anti-trafficking act also prohibits the unlawful holding of identity documents and allows for asset forfeiture of persons convicted of trafficking. The government initiated one labor trafficking investigation in the reporting period, compared with one investigation in 2014 and two in 2013. The government reported four prosecutions in the reporting period, compared to none in 2014. The government has never convicted a trafficker. The government initiated the prosecution of three men from India and one from Bangladesh charged in the previous reporting period with subjecting nine individuals to forced labor in the hospitality industry. The government did not indict any perpetrators in the case involving four potential sex trafficking victims who were identified in 2013 and repatriated to Ukraine and Russia in 2014 with the help of an international organization. The government’s office of public prosecutions has been without senior leadership, contributing to the delay of trafficking prosecutions. The government has never reported prosecuting or convicting a public official complicit in trafficking. The police reported that they cooperated with the United States, Bangladesh, Singapore, and the United Kingdom in the course of investigating the case currently being prosecuted. The government, in collaboration with an international NGO, hosted training on criminal justice and assistance to trafficking victims for four government officials and training on formulation of a national action plan for 19 anti-trafficking taskforce members, including NGOs. The police force separately trained 10 of its own officials on victim assistance.
The government’s efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims remained inadequate. Authorities identified one adult male foreign victim of labor trafficking during the reporting period, and verified nine adult male foreign labor trafficking victims out of the 69 individuals initially identified as potential victims in the previous reporting period. The government offered 10 victims food, shelter, medical care, and legal counsel during the reporting period. The government reported it spent 439,562 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($162,800) on victim care during the reporting period, including the provision of long-term housing to some of the remaining 60 individuals who were allegedly fraudulently recruited—by the men charged in the ongoing prosecution—to be students at an academy in preparation for jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry. An international NGO and media reports indicated some of the nine victims and the 60 individuals previously identified as potential victims paid for their own accommodations and meals. Some of the nine identified victims and 60 individuals previously identified as potential victims were cooperating with the ongoing investigation, but some publicly claimed that the government would not grant them permission to return to their home countries before the case went to trial. An international organization assisted the government in 2014 with drafting formal procedures to guide law enforcement, health, and other officials on victim identification and referral to available protection and assistance services; however the government did not finalize the procedures by the close of the reporting period. Authorities referred victims on an ad hoc basis to legal, advocacy, and crisis services regardless of their legal status. The 2010 anti-trafficking act contains victim protection provisions, such as privacy and witness protection, to encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers; some potential victims and witnesses from the case undergoing prosecution gave statements to the former director of public prosecutions, but none testified in court during the reporting period. The anti-trafficking 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. The police reported that no trafficking victims were detained or fined as a result of their being subjected to trafficking. The act 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. The home affairs and national security ministry leads government efforts to combat trafficking. The government, in partnership with an international organization, developed a public awareness campaign, but did not implement it during the reporting period. The interagency taskforce met twice during the reporting period, and a national action plan remained in draft form for the second consecutive year at the close of the reporting period. The government conducted outreach events in rural communities aimed at preventing vulnerable women and girls from being subjected to trafficking. The government funded a hotline for victims of violence, including trafficking victims, but it received no human trafficking calls during the reporting period. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.