JAMAICA (Tier 2)
Jamaica is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. The majority of victims are poor Jamaican women and girls, and increasingly boys, who are trafficked from rural to urban and tourist areas for commercial sexual exploitation. Victims are typically recruited by persons close to them or newspaper advertisements promoting work as spa attendants, masseuses, or dancers; after being recruited, victims are coerced into prostitution. Jamaican children also may be subjected to conditions of forced labor as domestic servants. Child sex tourism in resort areas has been identified as a problem. Reportedly women from the Dominican Republic, Russia, and Eastern Europe who have been trafficked into Jamaica's sex trade have also been forced to transport illegal drugs. Some Jamaican women and girls have been trafficked to Canada, the United States, the Bahamas, and other Caribbean destinations for commercial sexual exploitation.
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. During the reporting period, the government of Jamaica made strong progress in the prosecution of trafficking offenders and continued solid efforts to prevent human trafficking, although its services to trafficking victims remained largely inadequate.
Recommendations for Jamaica: expand efforts to investigate, convict and punish traffickers for their crimes; extend training on human trafficking issues among law enforcement agencies; increase funding for shelter services and other assistance to victims; continue awareness campaigns aimed at vulnerable populations, especially young people.
The Government of Jamaica took significant steps to apprehend, investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders during the last year. The government prohibits all forms of trafficking through its comprehensive "Trafficking Act of Jamaica," which went into effect in 2007. The Act, which prescribes sufficiently stringent penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment, applies to those who committed, facilitated, or knowingly benefited from the offense. If a corporate body is involved, every director, manager, secretary, or other similar officer may be liable. During the year, the government reported its first convictions for conspiracy to traffic in persons. In November 2008, two men convicted of trafficking offenses committed before enactment of the new law were each sentenced to 12 months in prison in accordance with the trafficking statutes of the Child Protection Act. The alleged traffickers in the four trials currently underway, however, were all charged under the 2007 anti-trafficking law. The National Anti-Trafficking Task Force allows for coordination among various NGOs and government agencies – internal, international, and multilateral – on trafficking-related matters as per the national action plan. The police anti-trafficking unit works closely with liaison officers at the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP), where specially-trained officials provide guidance on which cases should be prosecuted under trafficking laws. Police and judicial officials received anti-trafficking training from IOM and other organizations. No reports of official complicity with human trafficking were received in 2008.
During the reporting period, the government made limited progress in its efforts to ensure victims' access to medical, psychological, legal, and victim protection services through a formal referral process. Existing law provides for the government to assist victims with: understanding the laws of Jamaica and their rights; obtaining any relevant documents and information to assist with legal proceedings; replacing travel documents; any necessary language interpretation and translation; meeting expenses related to criminal proceedings against the traffickers; and provision of shelters and assistance to cover expenses. A lack of financial resources seriously constrains the government's ability to provide these services. With the funding that is available, however, the government has begun construction of a shelter for women and children trafficking victims scheduled to open by mid-2009. As specialized shelters for trafficking victims remain largely unavailable, law enforcement and social service agencies refer victims to safe houses for abuse victims that are run by NGOs. Law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel use established formal mechanisms to proactively identify victims of trafficking among high-risk populations they are likely to encounter, and to refer these victims to NGOs for short- or long-term care. Pursuant to its anti-trafficking statute, Jamaican authorities encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. Victims may also independently file civil suits or take other legal action against their traffickers. One victim assisted in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers during the reporting period. Victims are not penalized for immigration violations or other unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The Jamaican government allows foreign trafficking victims participating in a law enforcement investigation or prosecution to stay in Jamaica until their cases have been completed and their safe return to their home countries is certain.
The government made steady efforts to further raise the public's awareness of trafficking during the reporting period. The government conducted anti-trafficking education campaigns in schools and rural communities. Local NGOs used videos and live theatrical performances to highlight the dangers of trafficking, and also included anti-trafficking components in outreach to vulnerable populations, especially in popular tourist destinations. The campaigns targeted potential trafficking victims. Having previously eliminated their use in nightclubs, the government further tightened issuance of "exotic dancer" permits for Jamaican hotel establishments by increasing the permit fee significantly beyond the financial reach of the hotels. This may be effective in preventing sex trafficking. Increased government collaboration with Jamaica's hotel and tourism industry would assist efforts to prevent child and adult sex tourism in resort areas; despite reported sexual exploitation of Jamaican children by foreign tourists, no investigations or prosecutions of such suspected criminal activity committed by foreign tourists were reported by the government.