Even as Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments, during the past year, have seemingly made efforts in addressing human trafficking, the United States says many of them have still not done enough in tackling the issue.
In its 2013Trafficking in Persons Report, the US Department of State placed six CARICOM countries – Barbados, Guyana, Haiti, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago – on its Tier 2 Watch List.
Another four – Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Jamaica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – have been listed on the Tier 2 List.
In distinguishing the two “lists” Washington defines countries on the Tier 2 Watch List as those whose governments “do not fully comply” with the minimum standards in its Trafficking Victims Protection Act, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards, and the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is, among other things, “very significant or is significantly increasing”.
Countries on the Tier 2 List, on the other hand, are those whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards but are simply making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
According to the report, St. Lucia is a destination country for persons subjected to forced prostitution and forced labour, and Washington said legal and illegal immigrants from Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and South Asia, especially those working in domestic service, reportedly are the groups most vulnerable to human trafficking.
It said there are indications children under 18 are “coerced to engage in commercial sex in St. Lucia” and that sex trafficking victims are likely found among foreign women in prostitution. Police and other sources said the most likely sex trafficking perpetrators in the country are pimps, strip club operators, and brothel owners.
Despite limited steps, it says the St. Lucian government “did not demonstrate evidence of increasing efforts to address human trafficking over the previous year,” adding that it also “did not make progress in proactively identifying and assisting suspected trafficking victims or prosecuting trafficking offenders”.