St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. This according to the “Trafficking in Persons Report 2016″ released by the US State Department.
NGOs and government officials report some adults pressure local minors into sex trafficking, while one NGO reported that local minors are subjected to sex trafficking by tourists in the Grenadines; local authorities have not identified any cases.
The report said, foreign women engaged in prostitution are subjected to trafficking for sex and foreign workers from South America and the Caribbean are subjected to trafficking for forced labor both in the country or while transiting through; however, the government and NGOs reported the number of women from other Caribbean islands subjected to sex trafficking decreased during the last few years.
Foreign workers employed by small, foreign-owned companies are particularly vulnerable to labor trafficking.
Men, women, and children are vulnerable to forced labor, primarily in agriculture; government officials and civil society suspect drug traffickers subject workers to forced labor in the production of marijuana, the reported stated.
The 2016 report said that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.
Despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year.
With the introduction of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, St. Vincent and the Grenadines was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has devoted sufficient resources to a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards.
For the first time, charges were brought against a suspected trafficker under the 2011 antitrafficking act, in a case initially thought to involve forced labor of three Jamaican nationals; however, unable to substantiate these allegations, all charges were dropped in the case by the end of the reporting period.
Nonetheless, officials’ efforts to investigate these allegations and provide assistance to three Jamaican nationals, initially believed to be potential victims, demonstrated progress from previous years’ lack of attention to potential cases and victim needs.
The government has yet to obtain a trafficking conviction, and guidelines for the referral of victims continued to lack the necessary details to make them operational. The government does not offer any specialized services for victims of human trafficking the report said.