Barbados branded negligent on human trafficking

Former Barbados Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite, a frequent foe of his country’s record on human trafficking.
Photo by George Alleyne

As it relates to Barbados, the United States Government’s 2018 Trafficking in Persons report cites a case of a new year, same issues, same negligence — resulting in the same ranking.

Barbados has for years been placed in Tier Two among countries in the U.S. annual report on trafficking in persons, which means the island’s government is regarded as not fully meeting the American Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards but is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with those standards.

The above paragraph represents the analysis of the report, covering 2016, and it remains the same for the report of 2017 that was released in June of this year.

“The Government of Barbados does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” the American release stated, but reported that some steps towards improving the situation compared to the previous reporting period.

“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 Barbados government was accused of initiating no new prosecutions for the fourth consecutive year, and has not yet secured a trafficking in persons conviction.

The American State Department claimed that the Barbados authorities “conducted five investigations in 2017, compared with three in 2016, six in 2015, eight in 2014, and three in 2013”.

According to the report, “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.”

“The government has not reported initiating a prosecution since 2013..”

But against this backdrop of Barbados not identifying cases of human trafficking leading to successful prosecution, the State Department — as it has done for the past five years —

contended that “Barbados is a source and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking”. It stated “foreign women have been forced into prostitution in Barbasos.

Legal and undocumented immigrants from Jamaica and Guyana are especially vulnerable to trafficking,” the report said, “although individuals from additional countries in the Caribbean and South America are increasingly vulnerable.”

Responding to the 2016 report, the then-Home Affairs Minister, Adriel Brathwaite, had fumed: “it does annoy me, in all seriousness, that someone sits in Washington, writes a report every year, changes very little in the report and then determines the fate of [almost 300,000] citizens here by a stroke of a pen.”

Since his comment last year, the government of which Brathwaite was part has been voted out of office, but the TIP report this year covers the 2017 period when he still held the post, and little was done, at least in the eyes of the Americans.

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