2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Antigua and Barbuda
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||19 June 2012|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Antigua and Barbuda, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30ce82d.html [accessed 18 September 2014]|
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA (Tier 2)
Antigua and Barbuda is a destination and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Legal and undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean region and Southeast Asia reportedly comprise the population most vulnerable to trafficking. According to some sources, forced prostitution occurs in bars and brothels. Incidences of forced labor have occurred in domestic service, on farm lands, and in the retail sector.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite limited human and financial resources, the government made substantial progress during the reporting period in its efforts to proactively identify human trafficking, protect victims, and raise awareness about the issue. The government initiated new trafficking investigations and began two prosecutions, but it did not report any convictions or punishments of trafficking offenders over the past year.
Recommendations for Antigua and Barbuda: Vigorously prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders, including officials complicit in human trafficking; continue identifying and protecting trafficking victims by formalizing procedures to guide law enforcement and other officials in identifying victims and referring them to available services; consider creating a centralized database to track trafficking cases and enhance inter-ministerial cooperation; and continue efforts to raise awareness about child sex trafficking, underscoring that all prostituted children are considered trafficking victims by UN definitions.
The government made progress in the prosecution of trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Antigua and Barbuda's Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Act 2010 prohibits forced prostitution and forced labor, including bonded labor, and prescribes punishments of 20 to 30 years' imprisonment with fines. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The law is comprehensive, including extensive victim protection measures. During the reporting period, the government initiated three trafficking investigations; all involved suspected forced labor, and one also involved suspected forced prostitution. The investigations led to the rescue of trafficking victims. The government initiated two trafficking prosecutions, though it reported no convictions of trafficking offenders during the reporting period. The government did not report any investigations or prosecutions of officials allegedly complicit in human trafficking. The government pursued various training opportunities and provided in-kind support to three IOM-led capacity building and technical skills training workshops, which included personnel from the Directorate of Gender Affairs (DGA), law enforcement, the defense force, and other agencies. Some officials suggested that a centralized database to track human trafficking data would enhance interagency cooperation on trafficking cases.
The government made clear progress in the protection of trafficking victims during the reporting period. In a positive development reflecting the government's commitment to address human trafficking, the government identified and assisted 21 foreign victims of human trafficking, including one child. With assistance from IOM, the government referred trafficking victims to care providers after administering needs assessments. The DGA faced both human and financial resource challenges that were addressed through creative private-public partnerships, such as an Emergency Safe Havens network to provide shelter in confidential locations to victims through collaboration with local businesses, churches, clinics, and volunteers. Additionally, the DGA opened a center which provided services – including finding shelter and facilitating medical and mental health care services – to victims of general crimes, including trafficking. Trafficking victims were not detained in shelters. The Antiguan government ensured that identified victims were not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked and offered foreign victims long-term residency as a legal alternative to their removal to countries where they may face retribution or hardship. During the year, one victim was granted permanent residence in the country. Authorities collaborated with IOM to repatriate other foreign victims safely and voluntarily.
The government demonstrated significant trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. It continued to distribute and share with other officials in the region human trafficking public awareness materials and to air radio spots in English and Spanish that targeted victims as well as the general public. The DGA hosted community talks and distributed posters throughout Antigua and Barbuda to raise anti-trafficking awareness. The government continued to operate a hotline with operators trained to identify and assist human trafficking victims. The DGA led a national anti-trafficking coalition which met regularly and was comprised of representatives from the Ministries of Social Welfare, Social Transformation, Health, Labor, Immigration and Customs, and Foreign Affairs, as well as officials from the Royal Antigua and Barbuda Police Force, members of various civil society groups, and community activists. The coalition has a national action plan that has not yet been formalized. Throughout the reporting period, the coalition held discussions on human trafficking with NGOs, faith-based organizations, members of the police force, and various interest groups within the Spanish-speaking community. The coalition also produced a public service announcement on trafficking that was specifically targeted to children. The minister of national security chaired a newly established committee of high-level officials to address trafficking prevention. The government did not report any initiatives aimed at reducing the demand for commercial sex. The government and local NGOs reported no evidence that child sex tourism occurs in Antigua and Barbuda.