[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

BARBADOS (Tier 2)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Barbados is a destination country for women from the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Jamaica trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation; it is also a destination for men from China, India, and Guyana trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation in construction and other sectors. Reports from 2005 indicated that girls and women within Barbados and from other Caribbean countries were trafficked for the purpose of domestic servitude. Sex traffickers, primarily pimps and brothel owners from Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados, lure women through newspaper ads for legitimate work in Barbados. Trafficked women tend to enter the country through legal means, usually by air; traffickers later force victims to work in strip clubs, massage parlors, some private residences, and “entertainment clubs" that operate as brothels. Traffickers use threats of physical harm or deportation, debt bondage, false contracts, psychological abuse, and confinement to force men, women, and reportedly some girls to also work in construction, the garment industry, agriculture, or private households.

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. During the reporting period, the government drafted a protocol for anti-trafficking actions, increased public awareness of trafficking, and cooperated with other Caribbean governments on trafficking issues. The government, however, did not report any investigations of suspected cases of sex or labor trafficking , nor did it prosecute any trafficking cases during the year.

Recommendations for Barbados: Develop, enact, and implement a comprehensive anti-trafficking law; proactively investigate suspected human trafficking cases; prosecute and punish trafficking offenders, including those who subject workers to conditions of forced labor; implement procedures for law enforcement officers to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; develop a national plan to identify, combat, and prevent trafficking; create and implement a national trafficking public awareness and prevention program.

The Barbados government made weak efforts to prosecute trafficking offenders during the year, while facing resource constraints and competing law enforcement priorities. Barbados has no specific law prohibiting human trafficking, but slavery and forced labor are constitutionally prohibited. Existing statutes against sexual offenses and forced labor could be used to prosecute some trafficking crimes. Penalties for these offenses, which range from five to15 years’ imprisonment, are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. No trafficking offenders were prosecuted during the year. Most law enforcement and immigration officials do not have the appropriate training, funding, and other necessary mechanisms to monitor and investigate suspected cases of trafficking.

The Government of Barbados made moderate efforts to ensure victims’ access to protective services over the last year. It funded several existing programs to assist victims of other crimes which could be used to support trafficking victims, such as shelters run by a local NGO and the Salvation Army, and public counseling services for victims of rape and child abuse. The government expressed its readiness to refer victims of trafficking, once identified, to the Bureau of Gender Affairs for support services, although no victims were formally identified during the year. The government’s Bureau of Gender Affairs collaborated with a local NGO to sensitize government agencies on the difference between smuggling and trafficking, the importance of referring victims to services provided in collaboration with NGOs, and the importance of implementing a trafficking-specific protocol and legislation to better target their efforts. Victims of trafficking (like victims of other crimes) are not, in general, encouraged to participate in investigations or prosecutions of trafficking offenders. Trafficking victims could be prosecuted for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked, as no existing legislation offers legal protection specifically to victims of trafficking. Police claim to have no option under current, relevant laws but to treat foreign trafficking victims without valid legal documentation as criminals and summarily deport them. UNHCR provided suspected trafficking victims with medical assistance and help with repatriation. There have been no reported cases of Barbadians trafficked to foreign countries, although the Bureau of Gender Affairs has specialized services in place should such a case arise.

The government made moderate efforts to raise the public’s awareness of the risks and dangers of human trafficking in Barbados. During the year the government hosted educational workshops and ran press releases on human trafficking. Although there is no formal mechanism for coordinating government and NGO action on trafficking issues, the Bureau of Gender Affairs worked with regional and local NGOs, religious organizations, and community advocates to better organize their anti-trafficking efforts and outreach. The Bureau of Gender Affairs also disseminated the government’s draft protocol for anti-trafficking action to various official agencies. Expansion of the tourism industry is fueling an increased demand for commercial sex in Barbados, but the government made no noticeable efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. Barbados has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.