2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - St. Vincent and the Grenadines
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||19 June 2012|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30c9366.html [accessed 8 March 2014]|
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES (Tier 2)
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a source, transit, and destination country for some men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. According to NGOs and officials, discussing human trafficking matters openly is a social taboo in the country. Nevertheless, a consensus has developed between government officials and NGOs that a population of persons at high risk of trafficking exists, notably men, women, and children working in agriculture, including marijuana fields, and in prostitution. In the past, Vincentian officials have raised concerns regarding foreign women in prostitution transiting through the country without possession of their passports.
The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines 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 substantial progress during the reporting period by enacting legislation that prohibits all forms of trafficking and provides strong victim protection measures. In addition, the government established a ministerial-level anti-trafficking task force and created an anti-trafficking police unit. This positive momentum and new structures should allow the government to make continued progress and identify and assist potential victims of trafficking in the coming year.
Recommendations for St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Investigate and prosecute possible offenses of sex or labor trafficking; implement formal screening policies to guide officials in how to identify and assist suspected victims of forced prostitution and forced labor; identify and assist suspected trafficking victims and refer them to appropriate services; enact a policy to ensure that trafficking victims are not punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being in a forced labor or forced prostitution situation; and educate the public about forced prostitution and forced labor by conducting a high-profile public awareness campaign.
The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines made progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last year. In September 2011, the House of Assembly unanimously passed the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Bill of 2011, which prohibits forced prostitution and forced labor, including bonded labor, and prescribes punishments of up to 20 years' imprisonment with fines. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with other serious crimes, such as rape. The law includes strong victim protection measures, provisions for victim restitution, and states that consent or past sexual behavior is irrelevant. The government, however, reported no forced labor or forced prostitution investigations, prosecutions, or convictions during the reporting period. In an effort to strengthen its capabilities to address human trafficking, the government in early 2012 established a special unit within the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force to focus specifically on human trafficking, sexual offences, and domestic violence. There were no reports of trafficking-related official complicity during the reporting period. The government provided in-kind assistance to trafficking-specific IOM-led training for officials from the police force, the Immigration Department, the Social Welfare Department, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Director of Public Prosecution's Office, the Port Authority, the Attorney General's chambers, and local NGOs.
The Vincentian government made progress in establishing victim protection policies. The government did not have formal procedures in place to guide authorities in how to identify possible victims of human trafficking, and the government did not proactively identify any suspected victims of human trafficking during the reporting period. The Ministry of National Mobilization and Social Development developed guidelines during the reporting period on the referral of victims to appropriate shelter. The government did not fund any trafficking-specific assistance programs, but the government provided some funding and building space to local NGOs whose shelter, counseling, and other services for crime victims would also be available to trafficking victims. There were no reports of trafficking victims assisting law enforcement, but under its new anti-trafficking law, the government offered incentives to encourage their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking offenders. Prior to the enactment of the September 2011 law, the government did not offer legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they would face hardship or retribution, though the new law now provides for such immigration relief. The government did not have a formal policy in place to protect victims from punishment for crimes committed as a direct result of being in a trafficking situation. There were no reports that victims were inappropriately punished during the reporting period.
The government made some efforts to prevent trafficking in St. Vincent and the Grenadines during the last year. The government continued to implement its national action plan to combat human trafficking. The government did not conduct anti-trafficking information or education campaigns during the reporting period; however, some officials raised awareness of human trafficking through public speaking engagements. In a positive development, one senator raised awareness that the new law could be used to protect local children from persons pushing them into prostitution or transactional sex. The government has not identified a problem with child sex tourists. The government reported no efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.