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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                           


The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for more than 60% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina.

The economy faces serious long-term problems: a sizable merchandise trade deficit, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of almost 130%.

High unemployment exacerbates the serious crime problem, including gang violence that is fueled by the drug trade.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Jamaica

Jamaica is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. The majority of victims are poor Jamaican women and girls, and increasingly boys, who are trafficked from rural to urban and tourist areas for commercial sexual exploitation. Victims are typically recruited by persons close to them or newspaper advertisements promoting work as spa attendants, masseuses, or dancers; after being recruited, victims are coerced into prostitution. Jamaican children also may be subjected to conditions of forced labor as domestic servants.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009  Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Jamaica.  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 precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. 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.


Social factors and human trafficking

Editorial, Jamaica Gleaner, January 29, 2007

[accessed 15 February 2011]

[accessed 19 December 2016]

In the context of Jamaica's problem of violent crime, particularly homicides, human trafficking, especially the internal movement of young women to work as exotic dancers or prostitutes, may not be seen by many as a serious matter. Indeed, many will claim that most of these people are free and willing participants in an open market; except that too many of the participants are minors whose ignorance is exploited.

Having the laws, therefore, is good. They must be enforced. But ultimately, a solution to this matter of human trafficking, and its worst form, the exploitation, involves other factors. Not least of these is to 'normalise' Jamaica's murder rate so that people have a sense that there other crimes worthy of prosecution. We also have to get the economy right so that people have real jobs and incomes and don't so easily fall into the clutches of the exploiters. And we have to fix education, that great social leveller and the best route to a decent life.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Jamaica

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

[accessed 11 June 2021]


The government did not effectively enforce the law. The vast majority of violators were not held criminally accountable; between April 2019 and March, two persons were charged with labor trafficking, and there were no convictions. The country continued to be a source and destination for persons subjected to forced labor, including in domestic work, begging, and the informal sector. Gang members subjected boys to forced criminal activity (see section 7.c.). Foreign citizens were compelled into forced labor aboard foreign-flagged fishing vessels operating in the country’s waters.


Government surveys estimated that more than 53,000 children ages five to 17 were engaged in child labor, mostly in the informal sector. Government agencies did not inspect the informal sector, limiting the government’s ability to enforce child labor laws. Children worked in farming, fishing, and in public markets. Children also worked as domestic helpers in homes or in street work such as peddling goods, services, begging, and garbage salvaging. Some children were subjected to forced labor in these sectors.

Children were subjected to commercial sexual exploitation. Girls, sometimes coerced by family members, were subjected to sex trafficking by men who provided monetary or material payment to the girls or their families in exchange for sex acts. Local observers reported this form of child sex trafficking may be widespread in some communities. Violent criminal gangs used children for forced begging; as lookouts, armed gunmen, and couriers of drugs and weapons; and for lottery scams.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Residents of neighborhoods where criminal groups are influential are at a heightened risk of becoming victims of human traffickers. Because of the poverty in certain communities and high-profile tourism industry, child sex tourism is present in some of Jamaica’s resort areas, according to local NGOs.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 18 April 2019]

[accessed 29 April 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 537]

Jamaica is a destination and source country for commercial sexual exploitation of children. Jamaican children are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor to countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. (2)

Sources indicate that children, sometimes at the behest of parents or criminal leaders referred to as “dons,” are forced into commercial sexual exploitation. (1) Children also continue to be recruited by criminal organizations to engage in illicit activities, such as gang violence, guns and drug smuggling, and financial fraud, including lottery scamming. (1; 13; 16) Child domestic workers may be subjected to domestic servitude, and some children are subjected to forced begging. Many children are reported missing in Jamaica; some of these children may be subjected to forced labor. (17).

'Too good to be true' - Job offers lead to exploitation

Jamaica Gleaner, June 29, 2008 -- Source: US State Department Report, JCF Organised Crime Unit

[accessed 15 February 2011]

[accessed 19 December 2016]

The victims - Victims of human trafficking are poor Jamaican women and girls, and increasingly boys, who are trafficked from rural to urban and tourist areas for commercial sexual exploitation.  They are typically recruited by family members or newspaper advertisements promoting work as spa attendants, masseuses or dancers.  After being recruited, victims are coerced into prostitution. Jamaican children also may be subjected to conditions of forced labour as domestic servants.  Traffickers also invite youngsters to live with families, go to school and get an education by word of mouth, usually because they do not want to leave a trace.

Ministry fighting hard to combat human trafficking

Jamaica Gleaner, October 1, 2007

[accessed 15 February 2011]

[accessed 19 December 2016]

More than 150 youngsters, from Kingston, Westmoreland and western Jamaica, took part in the programme that raised the level of awareness about human trafficking.


q  Beware of 'modern-day slavery' or trafficking in children.

q  Does a job or other opportunity sound too good to be true?

q  Are you being promised lots of money, a great life, and lots of material goods?

q  Are you being chosen because you are young, good looking, and of a particular sex?

q  Is it unimportant that you have no skills or qualifications?

q  Will somebody get travel and/ or identification documents for you?

q  If you are to go abroad, will you be illegal in the other country?

q  Are you being urged to lie if you are to travel abroad?

Shelters for Victims of Human Trafficking to be Established Soon in Jamaica

Jamaica Information Service JIS, Kingston, July 23, 2007

[accessed 15 February 2011]

[accessed 19 September 2016]

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer has assured that the establishment of shelters for victims of human trafficking would be done in short order, so that Jamaica can be "well in the reach" of a Tier One rating from the United States Department of State by June 2008. "We are in the process of coming up with shelters. Notwithstanding that, we are making arrangements with the NGO community to provide support for our victims as we get our shelters in operation," Mrs. Palmer informed stakeholders yesterday.

Companies Trafficking Persons will not be Allowed to Thrive

Jamaica Information Service JIS News, May 24, 2007

[accessed 31 August 2014]

Since April 2006, nine victims of human trafficking have been rescued in Jamaica, six of whom were over 18 years old and three between the ages 13 and 17. Five persons were charged with trafficking a child, under the Child Care and Protection Act, 2004.

A significant measure in the national attack on human trafficking is the establishment of the Trafficking in Persons Unit in the Jamaica Constabulary Force to handle cases of human trafficking.  A drive to educate the public about the issue is considered as seminal to the success of the effort. Consequently NATFATIP is collaborating with the Jamaica Library Service to host a series of public education forums in libraries across the island. The mass media is also being used as a platform to transmit messages against human trafficking.

Companies involved in human trafficking

Howard Campbell, Jamaica Gleaner, April 28, 2007

[accessed 15 February 2011]

[accessed 19 December 2016]

"There are firms in Jamaica, there are companies in Jamaica, which have got themselves into positions where persons are 'employed' and are exploited," he said. "In the case of corporate entities, liability may be pinned on the directors, managers or other officers concerned with the management."

NO NAMES - Mr. Nicholson, who is also Attorney-General, did not name any of the companies, but said any organisation that conceals, withholds, removes or destroys documents relating to the movement of persons, will be penalised.  He added that the employee, once he or she can provide evidence of exploitation, is eligible for retribution payment.

Two men accused of luring teenager into prostitution remanded

The Jamaica Observer, June 03, 2006

[accessed 15 February 2011]

[accessed 19 September 2016]

[accessed 7 June 2017]

Both were caught, court documents said, selling a 14 year-old schoolgirl to an undercover US investigator, who was posing as a tourist, for US$400 for the purposes of prostitution. Arrangements, the court documents said, were also made to pay the girl another US$500 for other sexual services.

Human trafficking warning! Gov't to go after parents who get children involved

The Jamaica Observer, Montego Bay, St James, June 02, 2006

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

[accessed 7 September 2011]

Attorney General and Minister of Justice A J Nicholson says his ministry has been examining ways in which laws can be enacted to prosecute parents who knowingly allow their children to become involved in human trafficking.

Police shut down sex auction in Culloden

The Jamaica Observer, September 01, 2005

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

[accessed 7 September 2011]

The police have effectively clamped down on the trading of exotic dancers in Culloden, where young girls and women gathered weekly to be auctioned off to club owners, according to Superintendent Devon Watkiss, head of the Organized Crime Investigative Division.

USA offers Jamaica help to tackle human trafficking

Caribbean Media Corporation, 2005-06-10

[accessed 15 February 2011]

Ms Owen said the measures being proposed include the establishment of a small police unit to monitor the trafficking of persons and public outreach campaigns.  "Last year we did send out an action plan to Jamaica, there was no follow through on the action plan. In January of this year, we also issued an interim assessment on Jamaica saying that they weren't doing enough particularly in law enforcement in combating trafficking in persons …”

Human trafficking in Barbados and six other Caribbean countries

Caribbean Net News, Bridgetown Barbados, March 18, 2005

[accessed 15 February 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.

Testimony of Professor Mohamed Mattar Co-Director, Protection Project Johns Hopkins University

United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, July 7, 2004

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

[accessed 7 September 2011]

Based upon the analysis conducted by The Protection Project on these cases, which the Department of Justice kindly made available, I can say that the majority of victims that are trafficked into the U.S. come from countries in Africa, especially Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and Tonga; Latin America, especially Jamaica, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala; Asia, especially South Korea, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Thailand and China and Russia.  They are trafficked to different states, in particular, California, Florida, New York, Hawaii, Georgia, Alaska, Texas and North Carolina.

Mounting concerns about sexual exploitation of children

John Myers Jr., Jamaica Gleaner,  June 13, 2004

[accessed 15 February 2011]

[accessed 19 December 2016]

Frequent reports of children's involvement in Jamaica's sex trade has forced advocate groups back to the drawing board to devise new strategies to combat the problem of sexual exploitation of the under-aged.  "We recognise that it is a growing problem of (under-aged) children being involved in the sex trade. We (are) talking about go-go dancers, in brothels, massage parlours, clubs and bars,"

Child Care and Protection Act Strengthens Government's Resolve

Dionne Rose, Jamaica Information Service JIS, June 11, 2004

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

[accessed 7 September 2011]

Passed in both Houses of Parliament in March this year, the Act is intended to protect children from abuse and neglect. It also makes persons accountable for the children left in their care.

Sex tourism as economic aid

The Guardian, July 12, 2003

[accessed 15 February 2011]

Middle-aged women jetting into Jamaica for sex don't see themselves as using prostitutes.

Many white Western women come to Negril for precisely that. Clinton is one of hundreds of young men working the beach and, like most of the "beach boys", he is desperately poor. His primary income comes from accompanying lone female travellers who want sex with Jamaican men.

Negril, like some resorts in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, is known as a place where white middle-aged women come in search of what they call the "big bamboo". British researchers Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor and Julia O'Connell Davidson found that the usual analysis of sex tourism did not allow for the possibility of women as buyers of sex, because "prostitute-users are, by definition, male, and this assumption is shared by many researchers and theorists".

Those who admit to coming to Negril for sex believe they are helping the men and the local economy by giving them money and gifts.

Report on the Situation Of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children And Adolescents in the Americas

Report to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) by Dr. Ariel Gustavo Forselledo, Coordinator of the Program on the Integral Promotion of Children's Rights, Montevideo, June 30, 2001

[accessed 29 April 2020]

INTRODUCTION - In June 1999, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), at its twenty-ninth regular session, held in Guatemala, adopted a resolution (AG3804/99) “to instruct the Inter-American Children’s Institute to deal systematically with the problem of the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in the region (...) in coordination with other organs, agencies, and entities of the United Nations system and other relevant organizations, in such a way as to propose the development of strategies and plans of action aimed at preventing and combating this scourge.”

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 June 2003

[accessed 15 February 2011]

[54] The Committee is concerned at the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children, including street children, and the lack of accurate data and adequate laws and policies in this regard.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 15 February 2011]


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The country was also a transit country for illegal migrants moving to the United States and Canada, some of whom were believed to be trafficking victims. Groups at a special risk for trafficking included rural migrants who sought work in cities and tourist areas, usually in the sex industry. Corruption among immigration officials in facilitating the unauthorized international movement of persons was a concern.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 15 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - A 2001 study funded by ILO-IPEC found that children as young as 10 years old are sexually exploited and engaged in prostitution, catering to tourists.  Young girls are hired by “go-go” clubs or massage parlors.  Children are trafficked internally for sexual exploitation and pornography.

CHILD LABOR LAWS AND ENFORCEMENT - The Child Care and Protection Act of 2004 prohibits the sale or trafficking of any child; however, the term “trafficking” is not defined, resulting in difficulty enforcing the statute.  Assault, immigration, or customs laws may also be applied to prosecute cases of child trafficking.

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