Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July 2014, 16:05 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Jamaica

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Jamaica, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee7032.html [accessed 10 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Jamaica (Tier 2)

Jamaica is a source, transit, and destination country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. NGOs report that the most common form of trafficking in Jamaica is sex trafficking, which allegedly occurs in night clubs, bars, and private homes. The populations most vulnerable to trafficking include women and children from poor and single-parent backgrounds. People living in Jamaica's poverty-stricken garrison communities, territories ruled by criminal "dons" that are effectively outside of the government's control, are especially at risk. NGOs have reported that child sex tourism is a problem in Jamaica's resort areas. In addition, massage parlors in Jamaica reportedly often lure women into prostitution under the false pretense of employment as massage therapists and then withhold their wages and restrict their movement – key human trafficking indicators. Foreign victims have been identified in forced prostitution and domestic servitude in Jamaica. Jamaican children also may be subjected to forced domestic service and forced begging. An NGO working with street children reported that the forced labor of children in street vending is prevalent. There is evidence that foreign nationals are subjected to forced labor in Jamaica. Some Jamaican women, men, and girls have been subjected to forced labor or sex trafficking in Canada, the United States, the UK, countries throughout the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

The Government of Jamaica does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government made strides in investigating international sex and labor trafficking operations and initiated four new prosecutions. The government also made progress in identifying foreign victims. The government reported no convictions of trafficking offenders or any officials complicit in human trafficking during the reporting period, and there were few results regarding Jamaican citizen victims of sex trafficking or forced labor assisted in Jamaica.

Recommendations for Jamaica: Vigorously prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders, including officials complicit in forced labor or sex trafficking; ensure prescribed penalties for human trafficking are commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as forcible sexual assault; enhance guidance and training to police, labor inspectors, child welfare officials, health workers and other government workers in the proactive identification of local as well as foreign victims of forced labor and sex trafficking (including children under 18 in prostitution in night clubs, bars, and massage parlors) and their referral to adequate service providers; encourage partnerships between police and NGOs in Negril, Montego Bay, and other towns outside of Kingston, fostering more referrals of Jamaican victims and prosecution of cases; continue to develop victim protection services for children; and explore using existing partnerships with NGOs to expand awareness activities, particularly prevention campaigns directed at youth and potential clients of the sex trade.

Prosecution

The government prohibits all forms of trafficking through its comprehensive Trafficking Act of Jamaica, which went into effect in 2007. Punishments prescribed for human trafficking under the Act extend up to 10 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent but do not appear to be commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The Jamaican Constabulary Force has a specialized anti-trafficking unit, which conducted 14 human trafficking raids and investigations. Officials initiated four new prosecutions of sex trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Six additional prosecutions from the previous reporting period remained ongoing. The government reported no convictions of trafficking offenders or any officials complicit in human trafficking. One alleged trafficking offender undergoing prosecution fled the country on bail. The government provided in-kind assistance to an OAS training event on human trafficking awareness; the national anti-trafficking task force identified the need for continued sensitization and education of government officials.

Protection

The government made some progress in the protection of trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government identified eight foreign victims of sex trafficking, including two children, and seven foreign forced labor victims during the year. The Office of the Children's Advocate released a report in 2010 that documented the government's identification of at least 16 child trafficking victims in 2009. Government officials reportedly employed formal procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking and to refer them to organizations providing services. The government continued to work with NGOs on preparations to make operational a shelter equipped to protect Jamaican and foreign trafficking victims during the reporting period. The Government of Jamaica reportedly attempted to return child victims to their families or referred them to foster homes. It also directly operated facilities that could house child trafficking victims, though some of these facilities also served as juvenile detention centers. At least eight foreign victims received shelter provided by the government or by NGOs that receive some government funding as well as psychological care and medical services. Despite scarce resources, the government reportedly spent $176,470 on victim protection and assistance in 2010, including the refurbishing and furnishing of the government-owned shelter. Four victims identified during the reporting period chose to assist in the prosecution of their offenders. The Jamaican government did not penalize victims for immigration violations or other unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being in forced prostitution or forced labor. During the year, the government developed formal guidance for immigration officials, advising them not to deport foreign victims.

Prevention

The government demonstrated some trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. The government acknowledged Jamaica's trafficking problem, and the government's anti-trafficking task force sustained partnerships with NGOs in coordinating anti-trafficking activities and implementing the national anti-trafficking action plan. The Office of the Children's Advocate raised awareness about the prostitution of children and other forms of child trafficking and served as a monitoring mechanism regarding the government's efforts to address child trafficking. Immigration officials also conducted some anti-trafficking outreach targeted toward Jamaicans traveling overseas, and the national anti-trafficking task force made several presentations to the public in tandem with the launch of a book about people in prostitution in Jamaica. A government-operated general crime victim hotline offered specialized assistance to persons reporting human trafficking. The government charged a foreign visitor that was alleged to have engaged in child sex tourism in June 2009 with carnal abuse, which actually carries higher penalties than child sex tourism. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions indicated that the accused would face trial in May 2011.

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