Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite has promised to provide “any victims of human trafficking” on the island with the support they need.
It’s Brathwaite’s response to the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report issued yesterday by the United States Department of State.
Barbados was given a Tier 2 designation for the third year in a row, which meant the US concluded that Barbados had not fully met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; but was making significant efforts to do so.
Brathwaite told reporters on the sidelines of the 3rd Council of Ministers of Postal Affairs Conference at Accra Beach Hotel and Spa in Rockley, Christ Church this morning he was not concerned about where Barbados ranked but on training various stakeholders to identify victims of trafficking.
“We are going to be doing this continuously. We are going back into the community centres and communities, going to the churches because it is a continuous process,” the Attorney General declared.
Brathwaite said he was not unhappy with a Tier 2 rating, but he also recognized there was work to be done in identifying and rectifying the weaknesses that allowed traffickers to get away with the practice.
The Attorney General made reference to the amended legislation on human trafficking approved by Parliament earlier this year, something the US admitted, although it said the law was awaiting proclamation and was not yet in force at the time the report was being finalized.
“Current 91 law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking and prescribes some penalties—fines—that are not sufficiently stringent; the new draft law would prohibit all forms of trafficking but still allow insufficiently stringent penalties to deter the crime,” the report stated.
The Trafficking in Persons Report lists Barbados as “a source and destination country for men, women, and children” who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.
It said foreign women were being forced into prostitution, while foreigners were subjected to forced labour, most notably in domestic service, agriculture, and construction.
“Legal and undocumented immigrants from Jamaica and Guyana are especially vulnerable to trafficking,” it said.
According to the report, children were being subjected to sex trafficking, including by parents and caregivers.
“The Government has never convicted a trafficker, but one 2013 prosecution remains awaiting trial for the second consecutive year. The Government continued drafting, but did not formally approve or implement for the second consecutive year, a national action plan establishing activities and priorities for 2016 through 2020, although the Government did use the national action plan to inform a two-year work plan, covering 2015-2016, which was implemented,” it said.
The Department of State recommended that Barbados enacts and implements a new 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”.
It also recommended the investigation, prosecution and conviction of traffickers, “including complicit officials”, and the application of stringent sentences that deter future trafficking crimes.
It also called for training for officials from various departments and institutions and adequate funding to organizations that assist trafficking victims, among other recommendations.
The Trafficking in Persons Report is the US government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking, according to the Department of State, which places each country onto one of three tiers based on the extent of their governments’ efforts to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.