Trafficking in Persons Report 2010

JAMAICA (Tier 2)

Jamaica is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced prostitution and forced labor. The majority of victims identified within the country were poor Jamaican women and girls, and increasingly boys, subjected to forced prostitution in urban and tourist areas. Trafficking is purported to occur within Jamaica’s poverty stricken garrison communities, territories ruled by criminal “dons” that are effectively outside of the government’s control. Some Jamaican women and girls have been subjected to forced prostitution in other countries such as Canada, the United States, the UK, The Bahamas, and other Caribbean destinations. Foreign victims have been identified in forced prostitution and domestic servitude in Jamaica. An NGO working with street children reported that the forced labor of children in street vending is prevalent. Jamaican children also may be subjected to involuntary domestic servitude. There is widespread belief among the NGO community that many of the 1,859 Jamaican children that have gone missing in 2009 were trafficked. Trafficking offenders increasingly used the Internet and cell phone text messages to lure victims. NGOs and other local observers reported that child sex tourism is a problem in Jamaica’s resort areas.

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. The government demonstrated leadership in addressing human trafficking by acknowledging the problem, forging partnerships with NGOs, and making substantial strides in the area of victim protection–opening a trafficking-specialized shelter in Kingston, despite limited resources. This progress was threatened by a lack of reporting on the punishment of convicted trafficking offenders, a critical element in both victim protection and deterrence of the crime.

Recommendations for Jamaica: Vigorously investigate and prosecute sex and labor trafficking offenses, and convict and sentence trafficking offenders; consider expansion of victim identification and referral training to include a broader group of police, including police recruits, and other officials involved in the prosecution of trafficking offenders; encourage partnerships between police and NGOs in Negril, Montego Bay and other towns outside of Kingston, fostering more referrals of victims and prosecution of cases; continue to develop victim protection services for children; and explore using existing partnerships with NGOs to expand awareness activities, particularly prevention campaigns directed at youth and potential clients of the sex trade.

The government made no discernible progress in prosecuting trafficking offenders during the reporting period. The government prohibits all forms of trafficking through its comprehensive “Trafficking Act of Jamaica,” which went into effect in 2007. Punishments prescribed for trafficking under the Act extend up to 10 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent, though not commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government was not able to provide comprehensive data on trafficking prosecutions and convictions throughout the country. Over the past year, there were at least six ongoing sex trafficking prosecutions. The government could not confirm the conviction or punishment of any trafficking offenders in 2009. NGOs reported that trafficking offenders often disappeared on bail after being caught and before they could be prosecuted. One NGO reported that trafficking complicity by police was a problem but did not cite any specific cases. A public official claimed that obtaining quality evidence of trafficking from police was a challenge. Trafficking victim identification training is not a part of the standard police academy curriculum for new recruits, but the Ministry of National Security provided anti-trafficking training for some police units, magistrates, prosecutors, and for operators staffing the trafficking hotline.

The government made some progress in victim protection during the reporting period. The government offered fifteen victims free legal, medical, and psychological services. Despite limited resources, in partnership with an NGO, the government began establishment of three government-supported shelters for female trafficking victims, the first of which was completed in March 2010. The government spent approximately $282,000, to refurbish the facilities for the three shelters. In addition, the government partially funded an NGO shelter and gave sporadic funding to other NGOS that provided victim assistance services. The government attempted to return child victims to families or referred them to foster homes. It also directly operated facilities that could house child trafficking victims, though some of these facilities also served as juvenile detention centers. The government trained 71 persons in the Ministry of National Security, 15 in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and 648 in the Jamaican Constabulary Force in 2009 in trafficking victim identification. Law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel in Kingston used established formal mechanisms to proactively identify victims of trafficking and to refer them to organizations providing services. Many NGOs in Kingston reported good relations with Jamaican authorities, but police and NGOs in the resort areas of Montego Bay and Negril were not in formal contact. Identified victims were generally not penalized for immigration violations or other unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; the government has developed formal guidance for immigration officials, advising them not to deport victims. Jamaican authorities encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers; at least 12 victims took part in trafficking prosecutions in 2009. The Jamaican government allowed foreign trafficking victims participating in a prosecution to stay in Jamaica until their cases had been completed and there was a plan for safe return to their home countries.

The government made some progress in trafficking prevention activities during the reporting period. The government acknowledged Jamaica’s trafficking problem, and government’s anti-trafficking task force sustained partnerships with NGOs in coordinating anti-trafficking activities and implementing the national anti-trafficking action plan. The government conducted anti-trafficking education campaigns in schools and libraries during the reporting period. It also provided modest, sporadic funding to at least one NGO that raised awareness among youth in rural communities. Several NGOs suggested that additional public awareness activities would be beneficial because there were increased referrals after past information campaigns. A government-operated general crime victim hotline offered specialized assistance to persons reporting human trafficking. The government did not target any prevention efforts toward potential clients of the sex trade or beneficiaries of forced labor during the reporting period. Jamaican authorities initiated a carnal abuse prosecution of a foreign visitor to Jamaica who allegedly engaged in child sex tourism.

Associated documents

  • Document ID 1331671 Related / Associated
  • Methodology associated with Trafficking in persons report 2010

    Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 (Periodical Report, English)