Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - The Bahamas
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||16 June 2009|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - The Bahamas, 16 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a42148a32.html [accessed 18 September 2014]|
THE BAHAMAS (Tier 2)
The Bahamas is a destination country for men and women trafficked from Haiti and other Caribbean countries primarily for the purpose of forced labor, and women from Jamaica and other countries trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. In situations that, for some workers, may constitute forced labor, employers coerce migrant or temporary workers – legal and illegal – to work longer hours, at lower pay, and in conditions not permitted under local labor law by changing the terms of contracts, withholding travel documents, refusing transportation back home, threatening to withdraw the employer-specific and employer-held permits, or to turn the employee over to immigration. For the past three years, The Bahamas was included in the Report as a Special Case due to limited data.
The Government of The Bahamas does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government enacted comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, added skilled personnel to anti-trafficking agencies and offices, consulted with other governments about trafficking issues and assistance, and continued to train government personnel on trafficking issues. The government did not, however, make noticeable efforts to proactively identify victims among vulnerable populations, such as foreign women and girls engaged in illegal prostitution or women and girls intercepted at its borders who may be attempting to enter The Bahamas to engage in illegal prostitution.
Recommendations for The Bahamas: Take steps to identify trafficking victims among migrants attempting to enter The Bahamas illegally; investigate, prosecute, and punish suspected human trafficking offenders; create and implement a national trafficking public awareness and prevention program; and allocate resources for the victim assistance measures mandated by the new anti-trafficking law.
While the Government of The Bahamas made minimal efforts to prosecute trafficking offenders, it lacked a comprehensive anti-trafficking law for most of the reporting period, faced relevant resource and capacity constraints, and confronted multiple competing law enforcement priorities. The Government of The Bahamas prohibited all forms of trafficking through its Trafficking in Persons Prevention and Suppression Act of 2008. Although previously enacted laws prohibit trafficking-related offenses, the government did not arrest or prosecute any trafficking offenders during the reporting period. The penalties for trafficking in persons in the 2008 Act, ranging from three years' to life imprisonment, are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The Bahamian government provided law enforcement personnel with anti-trafficking training, and some personnel participated in training with NGOs and international organizations. Historically, government personnel have conflated human trafficking and human smuggling.
The Bahamian government showed minimal efforts to protect victims of trafficking over the last year. The government continued to rely on NGOs and international organizations for the provision of services to victims. The Bahamas operates no specialized trafficking shelters, although services to victims of domestic violence would be offered to women and child trafficking victims. No organizations currently provide protective services for men. Agencies and officials followed no formal procedures for screening or referring victims to NGOs; potential victims are referred as they are identified. The new anti-trafficking law requires ministers responsible for national security and social services to implement a plan to provide appropriate services to victims, in cooperation with NGOs. Bahamian authorities encourage victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenders. The newly enacted law requires convicted traffickers to financially compensate their victims. Although the government ensured that victims, once identified, were not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, some victims were not properly identified. Law enforcement personnel generally deported foreign women found working in the Bahamian sex industry without first attempting to determine if any were victims of trafficking. The Bahamas' new law includes provisions for victims' immunity from prosecution, the protection of victims and witnesses with special considerations for the age and extent of trauma suffered by the victim, and relief from the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution regardless of their participation in the investigation or prosecution of their traffickers.
The government demonstrated limited efforts to prevent trafficking over the reporting period. It strongly promoted official awareness of, and coordination on, trafficking issues within the country through mechanisms such as the multi-agency Trafficking in Persons Working Group. The government made no visible effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, and it did not engage in any other awareness-raising efforts directed at Bahamian citizens.