Government official accused of sex trafficking
Government is yet to respond to the latest human trafficking report issued by the United States government, which has revealed that a Barbadian official was recently investigated by police for alleged complicity in sex trafficking crimes.
When contacted tonight, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite said he had not yet read the report, and therefore could not shed any light on its findings.
Asked specifically about the police probe of the unnamed official, Brathwaite, who is currently off island and is due back home on Saturday, said he was presently in the dark on the matter.
Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Erwin Boyce also told Barbados TODAY he was not aware of any such police investigation.
However, in its 2015 Human Trafficking Report released two days ago, the US State Department pointed out that while Barbados did not convict any traffickers, “police investigated a Government official for alleged complicity in sex trafficking crimes”.
It further revealed that authorities had investigated eight new potential trafficking cases during the reporting period, but said only one of these suspected cases was determined to be trafficking.
Overall, Barbados received a passing grade for its efforts to prevent human trafficking.
US officials gave the island a Tier 2 rating — the same grade it received in the 2014 report.
Tier 2 countries are those whose governments do not fully comply with the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance.
Tier 1 is the highest rating, followed by Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3.
In its report, the US government stated that “Barbados is a source country for children subjected to sex trafficking and destination country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour”.
It said authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) had also reported that foreign women were being forced into prostitution in Barbados, with immigrants from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Guyana being especially vulnerable.
However, while conceding that Barbados did not fully comply with the required standards, it reported that the island in acceding to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol in October of 2014, had drafted amendments to its anti-trafficking law to prohibit all forms of human trafficking. The US also lauded the country for developing a Government-wide anti-trafficking manual.
While Government was criticized for making minimal progress in the protection of victims, for not providing anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel and for not making efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labour, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite was praised for leading an anti-trafficking task force.
This task force met monthly and included permanent secretaries from several ministries and NGOs.
The taskforce was also lauded for developing a Government-wide anti-trafficking manual, which officials indicated would include details on how authorities should treat victims.
Among the several recommendations made by the report were to enact and implement amendments to the anti-trafficking law, to prohibit all forms of human trafficking and to prescribe penalties that are sufficiently stringent [without an alternative of a fine] and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.
It also suggested the conviction of trafficking offenders, including complicit officials and provide appropriate sentences for their crimes, better training of law enforcement and prosecutors, and to provide adequate funding to organizations that assist trafficking victims.