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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                        


Historically, the Barbadian economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities. However, in recent years the economy has diversified into light industry and tourism with about three-quarters of GDP and 80% of exports being attributed to services.

The country enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the region.

The government continues its efforts to reduce unemployment, to encourage direct foreign investment, and to privatize remaining state-owned enterprises.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Barbados

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. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Re Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Barbados.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include possible precursors of trafficking such as poverty. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Human trafficking in Barbados and six other Caribbean countries

Caribbean Net News, Bridgetown, Barbados, March 18, 2005

[accessed 21 January 2011]

Human trafficking is a reality in Barbados and some of its Caribbean neighbors, and it’s being reported that some of those people brought illegally into the country are being forced into labor.  These findings were made during an exploratory study that examined Barbados, the Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, the Netherlands Antilles and Suriname.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Barbados

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 11 May 2021]


The constitution prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor. The government generally enforced such laws, which was sufficient to deter violations.

Although there were no official reports of forced labor during the year, foreigners–especially those from neighboring Caribbean nations–remained at risk for forced labor, particularly in domestic service, agriculture, and construction.


The law prohibits the worst forms of child labor. The law provides for a minimum working age of 16 in certain sectors but does not cover sectors such as agriculture or family businesses. The law prohibits children younger than 18 from engaging in work likely to harm their health, safety, or morals, but it does not specify which occupations fall under this prohibition. The law was effectively enforced, and child labor laws were generally observed. Parents are culpable under the law if their children younger than 16 are not in school. By law children ages 14-16 may engage in light work with parental consent. The law does not provide a list of occupations constituting light work.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 23 July 2020]


Residents generally have access to economic opportunity, and the law provides some protections against exploitative labor practices. However, nearly 18 percent of the population lives in poverty.

The government has taken steps to crack down on human trafficking, including police raids, screening of vulnerable people, training officials to detect possible trafficking victims, and awareness campaigns. However, there have been no prosecutions for trafficking since 2013, and government agencies that work on trafficking-related issues are poorly funded.

No big role in human trafficking

Tony Best, Nation News, 6/17/08

[accessed 4 September 2011]

Barbados was hit a few months ago in the State Department's human rights report as a destination country for prostitutes, especially Guyanese, but Washington didn't hold up Barbados as one of the serious offenders with a major trafficking problem.

NOT UNTOUCHED - But the island didn't entirely escape unscathed. It was among the Caribbean countries the report mentioned as accepting Guyanese as victims of human trafficking.

"Reporting from other (Caribbean) nations suggest Guyanese women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation to neighbouring countries such as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Suriname, Venezuela, and that Guyanese men and boys are subject to labour exploitation in construction and agriculture in these same countries.

UN reviews Barbados' Human Rights report

Nicholas Cox, Barbados Advocate, April 3, 2007

-- Source:

[partial access 21 January 2011]

With respect to human trafficking, the UNHRC wanted to see more policy and legislative responses to the problem to ensure that victims have access to the provision of support and assistance. In addition, the State party should criminalise the trafficking of human beings in consultations with CARICOM, the organisation said.

Regional 'hub' for trafficking

[access date unavailable]

The trafficking of Guyanese women and girls to Barbados remains a fact of life.  And while the depth of Barbados' involvement in the sordid business of human trafficking for sex remains unknown, what's clear is that Guyana "is principally a source country for men, women, and children" trafficked both within and outside of the Caribbean country.

But Barbados isn't alone in receiving Guyanese women and teenage girls for the sex trade, according to the State Department.

However, Barbados wasn't singled out in the document for any special mention as a place that was central to human trafficking in the Caribbean and Latin America.

TACKLE ISSUE: - Earlier this year, the island had to answer questions about trafficking when a United Nations human rights panel examined the island's latest human rights report. Barbados' representative told the experts that authorities back home were trying to do something about it.

Human Rights Committee Examines Issues Concerning Human Trafficking, Juvenile Justice, Access To Legal Aid, As It Concludes Review Of Report By Barbados

Human Rights Committee, Eighty-ninth Session, 2440th Meeting (AM), 22 March 2007

[accessed 21 January 2011]

Owing to its geographical location, the Caribbean was particularly susceptible to migratory movements from one part of the hemisphere to another, he said.  Thus, it was very susceptible to trafficking in persons, arms, illegal drugs and so forth.  Because of the nature of the archipelago – the scattering of small islands – the borders were porous, and that required a tremendous amount of resources to police and monitor.  The airport and seaport were the two ports of entry, and most recently, a private port had opened for private yachts, but the islands could be accessed all around by anyone interested in moving in with fast boats, especially from Saint Vincent only 100 miles away. 

So, on the trafficking question, Barbados’ authorities had met with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) members and had evolved several initiatives, apart from information campaigns.  Among those had been the establishment of victim protection programmes for the various jurisdictions involving all the islands.  Steps had also been taken to firm up a task force to deal with scouting and exploration of the waters of the Caribbean Sea.  The matters had first been brought to the attention of the region at a meeting in Guyana in April 2005, when the idea of mapping out a regional plan had come into being.  The region also had cooperation with the International Organization of Migration.

He said, “It troubles us.  What more can I say?  We are working actively on it.  It is not yet a big problem… but it probably is happening.”  He added, “We are trying to nip it in the bud by approaching it at a local and regional level.”

BPW Barbados collaboration to prevent human trafficking

Monica McNeil, North America and NSSCC Regional Coordinator, BPW International, 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

BPW Barbados partners with the Bureau of Gender Affairs in a project sponsored by the International Organization of Migration (IOM) since year 2005. IOM wanted to alert the Barbadian Public as to the nature and characteristics of Human Trafficking. It wanted to put Barbados on guard, to prevent the island from being used as a point of distribution for human trafficking. A coalition was formed, made up of representatives of the agencies/organizations. Planning meetings were held. Three public campaigns were held in Speightswn, Oistins and Bridgetown. In 2006, two officers of IOM came to the island and conducted a workshop on Human Trafficking, its implications and ramifications. The outcome of the workshop was that participants arranged to set up mechanisms to do empirical research and to set up a watch- dog operation to scrutinize events or actions that resembled human trafficking and report to IOM.

The Protection Project - Barbados

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

[accessed 22 February 2016]

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE TRAFFICKING INFRASTRUCTUREAn increase in tourism to the island nation has reportedly resulted in an increase in sex tourism. Furthermore, the seaport in the capital, Bridgetown, provides a steady demand for commercial sex.


2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

[accessed 17 March 2019]

[accessed 17 March 2019]


Although there were no official reports of forced labor during the year, foreigners remained at risk for forced labor, especially in the domestic service, agriculture, and construction sectors. The punishment for labor or sex trafficking of adults is the same: 25 years in prison, a fine of one million BBD ($500,000), or both. Labor or sex trafficking of children is punished by a fine of two million BBD (one million dollars), life imprisonment, or both. There were no prosecutions in recent years.

Human Rights Reports » 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 6, 2007

[accessed 6 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The constitution and laws do not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons. Although laws against slavery, forced labor or other crimes could be applied, no trafficking cases were prosecuted. There were reports that persons were trafficked to the country.

A 2005 assessment by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated that persons were trafficked both to work as prostitutes and as domestic workers. Persons also reportedly were trafficked to work in the construction and garment industries, where they were subject to low wages and false contracts. The IOM noted that in cases where trafficking may have occurred, the government typically deported the persons suspected of being trafficked and failed to investigate or prosecute the alleged traffickers. The government has no dedicated facilities to assist victims and does not provide funding to antitrafficking NGOs.


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