Barbados (Tier 2 Watch List)

Barbados is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. In a welcomed move over the last year, officials spoke more openly about the likely profile of human trafficking in Barbados, which is similar to those of other countries in the region. Evidence suggests there are foreign women forced into prostitution in Barbados. Legal and illegal immigrants from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Guyana appear to be the most vulnerable to trafficking. The prostitution of children is known to exist in Barbados; a high risk group is Barbadian and immigrant children engaging in transactional sex with older men for material goods. There is also evidence that some foreigners have been subjected to forced labor in Barbados, with the highest risk sectors being domestic service, agriculture, and construction.

The Government of Barbados does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these efforts, the government has not shown evidence of increasing efforts over the previous year; therefore, Barbados is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The main obstacles to anti-trafficking progress in Barbados were: the new legislation's failure to criminalize all forms of trafficking in persons; the government's absence of formal procedures to guide officials in victim identification and assistance; and the absence of a formal mechanism to coordinate government and NGO actions on trafficking issues.

Recommendations for Barbados: Amend the new legislation to prohibit all forms of human trafficking and prescribe penalties that are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes; implement procedures for law enforcement officers to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as people in prostitution and migrant workers; enact protections for victims of trafficking, including provisions that provide foreign victims with relief from immediate deportation and ensure victims are not punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked; increase funding to the NGO shelter and crisis center to ensure adequate assistance is available to human trafficking victims; establish a formal inter-ministerial coordination group; and raise awareness of all forms of human trafficking – including domestic servitude, other forms of forced labor, and commercial sexual exploitation of children – in partnership with NGOs through the use of radio or other media.


The Government of Barbados made significant efforts in its anti-trafficking law enforcement activities during the reporting period. Barbados enacted the Transnational Crime Bill (pt.III) in February 2011. Inconsistent with international standards, this law requires migration as a necessary element of human trafficking offenses and apparently does not criminalize the forced labor or forced prostitution of Barbadian citizens and residents, only of persons who enter, exit, or are received into Barbados. The law prescribes maximum penalties of 15 years' imprisonment. These prescribed penalties are sufficiently stringent but are not commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape, and are lower than the separate crime of human smuggling. Low awareness of human trafficking among law enforcement officials, as well as the absence of legislation criminalizing all forms of trafficking, were significant limitations in the government's ability to address human trafficking in Barbados during the reporting period. The government did not report data on any investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of trafficking offenders or public officials complicit in human trafficking during the year. Barbadian officials contributed in-kind assistance to an OAS-sponsored human trafficking awareness training.


The government did not demonstrate progress in protecting victims during the reporting period. Greatly hindering its ability to rescue victims, the government did not include victim protection provisions in the new law and did not have a formal policy in place to guide officials in how to identify victims of sex trafficking and forced labor proactively; the government did not report identifying any victims during the year. Officials drafted a formal protocol to guide authorities in the identification and protection of victims, though this document had not yet received cabinet approval. In the past, police have referred suspected victims to the Bureau of Gender Affairs for support services. The government provided funding for an NGO shelter and crisis center providing security and services primarily for domestic violence victims but also for women and children who have been in human trafficking situations. Despite significant financial strain, this organization provided very high quality services, had staff trained to handle trafficking cases, and has assisted trafficking victims. The government provided funding to another NGO that could provide temporary shelter to adult male trafficking victims though there were no reports that any victims were assisted. The government did not have in place any specific policies to encourage victims' assistance in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking. It also did not offer foreign trafficking victims legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they would face hardship or retribution. The government did not have formal provisions in place to ensure that identified victims would not be inappropriately punished for unlawful offenses committed solely as a direct result of being trafficked.


The government made limited progress in efforts to prevent human trafficking in Barbados. There was no formal awareness campaign, but various officials raised awareness of human trafficking through the public debate surrounding the introduction of anti-trafficking legislation to the parliament. The Bureau of Gender Affairs distributed materials from IOM and worked with regional and local NGOs, religious organizations, and community advocates to raise awareness. The government did not have a formal mechanism for coordinating government and NGO action on trafficking issues or a national action plan. The government funded the operation of a hotline staffed by professionals from the women's crisis center who were trained to identify human trafficking. The government did not report any efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government has not identified a problem with child sex tourism. Barbados is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


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