Jamaica Progress with Human Trafficking Problem
Jamaica’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, addressed the opening of a three-day Prosecutors’ Human Trafficking Training Seminar in Trelawny on Friday, saying the State must bolster the institutional capacities “to allow for the aggressive investigation and swift prosecution of offenders.”
She also stated “There is no investigation separate from prosecution…it is just one flow…one continuum”.
In the training seminar Ms. Palmer explained that the victims of human trafficking have been dehumanized where their “persona has been taken from them” and where they have been forced to submit and “do (whatever) they are told.”
She pointed out that the amendments to the Trafficking in Persons Act, now before Parliament, will ensure that there is stronger enforcement of the law to deter persons from engaging in the crime.
Previously Deputy Superintendant Carl Berry, head of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, proposed that “Human trafficking involving sex and forced labour are together one of the most misunderstood crimes in Jamaica”.
“The general thought is that only bad people get involved, maybe prostitutes. But the fact is far from that. This crime is a major priority in other countries such as the US”.
According to the Wikipedia article on Human Trafficking in Jamaica, Jamaica is a source, transit, and destination country for adults and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. That is traffickers are taking people from Jamaica, running people through Jamaica to be worked in other countries, and being brought to Jamaica to be Trafficked here.
Domestically, most victims are poorer women and children enticed from rural parts of the country to the larger cities by family members or newspaper classified job postings for spa attendants, masseurs, or exotic dancers. After being recruited, however, victims are often forced into prostitution.
Jamaica is reported to be a destination country for women trafficked from the Dominican Republic, Russia, Eastern Europe, Cuba, to work in the sex trade. Some Jamaican women and girls have been trafficked to Canada, the United States, the Bahamas, and other Caribbean destinations for commercial sexual exploitation.
According to the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons report on Jamaica:
The Government of Jamaica does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Jamaica remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by securing two convictions, prosecuting nine trafficking cases against 13 alleged traffickers, and investigating 40 potential new trafficking cases. The government developed a new victim protection protocol for health, labor, and child welfare officials, identified eight trafficking victims who were provided government shelter and services, and increased awareness-raising efforts. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not hold complicit officials accountable, publish a standard victim protection protocol, or publish an annual report monitoring its efforts.