The Government of Barbados does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Barbados remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by conducting a raid on a nightclub suspected of trafficking, providing anti-trafficking training for government officials and NGO leaders, and conducting public awareness campaigns. The government, across its interagency, conducted education and training through senior and working level commitments to combat trafficking. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government identified no victims during the reporting period, initiated no new prosecutions for the fourth consecutive year, and had yet to secure a trafficking conviction. For the third consecutive year, the government did not complete its national action plan or an anti-trafficking manual for interviewing and providing assistance for suspected trafficking victims. Government agencies reported a lack of resources for their anti-trafficking activities. The government's anti-trafficking law did not provide penalties that were commensurate with other serious crimes.


Proactively screen for trafficking indicators and identify victims in vulnerable populations and areas, such as among migrants; while respecting due process, investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, and apply stringent sentences that deter future trafficking crimes; enact a national action plan to combat trafficking; provide adequate funding to implement the national action plan and support government agencies' anti-trafficking activities; complete the anti-trafficking manual for interviewing and assisting victims; amend the anti-trafficking law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment; establish adequate accommodations and service provisions for trafficking victims; and amend the Recruiting of Workers Act to specify the government agency that should assume responsibility for the associated administrative and enforcement functions of labor recruiters.


The government maintained prosecution efforts. The Trafficking In Persons Prevention Act (TIPPA), enacted in 2016, criminalized sex and labor trafficking. The punishment for adult trafficking was up to 25 years imprisonment, a fine of up to 1 million Barbados dollars (BDS) ($495,050), or both. The punishment for child trafficking was up to life imprisonment, a fine of up to 2 million BDS ($990,100), or both. These penalties were sufficiently stringent. However, by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the prescribed punishment for sex trafficking was not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape.

Authorities conducted five investigations in 2017 (compared with three in 2016, six in 2015, eight in 2014, and three in 2013). One of these investigations stemmed from a raid on suspected trafficking activities in a nightclub (compared with two raids in 2016). Police found no evidence of human trafficking in these five investigations. There were no new prosecutions initiated under the TIPPA during the reporting period; the government has not reported initiating a prosecution since 2013. A 2013 case involving two suspected traffickers remained pending before the court. To date, the government has not convicted any traffickers. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses. The government provided per diem support for two law enforcement, one immigration, and one civil servant official to attend INTERPOL anti-trafficking training abroad. In addition, the police continued sensitization training on trafficking for 120 front-line officers; immigration officials trained 50 front-line immigration officers.


The government decreased efforts to protect victims. Officials did not identify any trafficking victims during the reporting period; this compared with eight victims identified in 2016 and 12 in 2015. Since 2014, the government has been drafting an anti-trafficking manual to outline procedures for law enforcement or immigration to use when interviewing suspected trafficking victims, as well as guidelines for NGOs regarding victim assistance. Government officials did not have a date for the manual's completion or release, and they were not implemented during the reporting period. A formal referral process for government authorities and NGOs existed for victim care, as required by law. The gender affairs bureau was designated to coordinate assistance with local NGOs. There was no shelter on Barbados specifically for trafficking victims. Female trafficking victims could reside at the NGO-operated women's domestic shelter on the island; however, this shelter did not have the resources for, and previously struggled to assist, trafficking victims. The government had a separate agreement with an NGO to provide accommodations to male victims. Child victims would be placed under the care of the Child Care Board, which was represented on the government's anti-trafficking task force. The government maintained an informal policy allowing foreign victims to receive temporary legal status as an alternative to their removal to countries where they would face hardship or retribution; the minister of national security can authorize victims, on a case-by-case basis, to remain and work in the country.

The TIPPA authorized the government to provide safeguards for victims' identities and those of their families, issue work permits, and provide transportation and security during legal proceedings. Government policy permitted victims to leave the country and return for hearings. The TIPPA provided victims with the right to pursue restitution from a trafficker after a conviction; however, there were no restitution cases because no cases had reached conviction. The government provided partial financial assistance for a regional workshop organized by an outside consultant on good practices in victim identification, which trained representatives from the Barbadian police, immigration, labor, and gender affairs. All agencies cited a lack of resources, particularly financial, which hampered anti-trafficking efforts.


The government maintained its prevention efforts. The attorney general led the government's anti-trafficking task force, which met monthly and included permanent secretaries from several ministries. The task force's primary accomplishment this year was to offer a comprehensive training and workshop for law enforcement, immigration officials, and members of non-profit organizations held in Barbados in February 2018. The Government of Barbados, recognizing that there are constraints on their national budget, worked with an external consultant and funder, to organize and offer the training. The training represented one of the most overarching interagency and civil society engagements to date: immigration, labor, education, police, NGOs, health, foreign affairs, information service and the child care board participated. Participants in the training discussed regional coordination as well and began working on the formulation of standard operating procedures based on lessons from regional partners, as presented by a longstanding anti-trafficking and law enforcement official from The Bahamas. The government did not finalize its national anti-trafficking action plan, the draft of which covers 2016 through 2020, but is working through its anti-trafficking task force to advance the plan. The government did not report funding levels for anti-trafficking efforts, although agencies cited a lack of resources, particularly financial, which hampered anti-trafficking efforts. The government was unable to conduct formal monitoring or data collection efforts during 2016 or 2017 due to budgetary constraints. The labor department regulated recruitment agencies under the Recruiting of Workers Act. According to government officials, however, the law did not identify the agency that should assume responsibility for the associated administrative and enforcement functions.

The government, in conjunction with NGOs, conducted 10 public awareness campaigns, which focused on both trafficking victims and on the demand for trafficking. These included spots on a local radio station, a mock UN Session during which students discussed human trafficking awareness, and presentations at various secondary schools. Additionally, participants in the February training from the Ministry of Education worked with a local NGO, Women of Purpose, to create a targeted outreach campaign to women over the radio focused on prevention and awareness to marginalized communities. Authorities, however, stated a need for a media campaign to increase awareness (print and electronic media), resources to develop an effective multi-media anti-trafficking product, and training to enable law enforcement and other government agencies to better identify victims of trafficking.


As reported over the past five years, Barbados is a source and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Contacts report foreign women have been forced into prostitution in Barbados. Legal and undocumented immigrants from Jamaica and Guyana are especially vulnerable to trafficking, although individuals from additional countries in the Caribbean and South America are increasingly vulnerable. There are anecdotal reports by contacts that children are subjected to sex trafficking, including by parents and caregivers. Previously, traffickers operated as part of an organization; more recently, they appear to operate individually. Authorities have noted an increased use of social media as a means of recruiting victims.


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