St. Vincent and the Grenadines has moved up to Tier 2 in the 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released by the US State Department.
According to the State Department, Tier 2 ranking indicates that a government does not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, but is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
Last year, St. Vincent and the Grenadines was among countries on the Tier 2 Watch List.
According to the report, the government demonstrated increasing efforts to eliminate trafficking of persons, compared to the previous reporting period, therefore St. Vincent and the Grenadines was upgraded to Tier 2.
The report released yesterday said the government demonstrated increasing efforts by providing assistance to trafficking victims, increasing anti-trafficking training to relevant government officials and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs, improving public awareness campaigns, and conducting a baseline assessment of its overall efforts in order to provide recommendations for improvement.
It noted however that the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.
“There remained deficiencies in its national action plan, investigations and victim care. The guide3lines for the referral of victims continued to lack the necessary details to make them effective. The government needed more specialized services for victims of human trafficking.”
Notwithstanding the progress made over the last reporting period, the report recommends that the government investigate suspected sex and labour trafficking cases, prosecute and convict traffickers, increase training for relevant government officials and Non-Governmental Organizations on the 2011 anti-trafficking act, and provide specialized services for trafficking victims.
According to the report, the government cooperated with investigations of three trafficking cases in 2016 involving Vincentians exploited in foreign countries; this compares with investigations of three potential trafficking cases in 2015 and three in 2014. The government cooperated with Trinbagonian law enforcement to investigate one case. But there were no prosecutions during the reporting period and the government had never convicted a trafficker.
The US State Department said that as reported over the past five years, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a source and possibly transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.
“Foreign women engaged in prostitution may have been subjected to sex trafficking in the country and foreign workers from South America and the Caribbean may have been subjected to trafficking for forced labor both in the country and while in transit. Foreign workers employed by small, foreign owned companies may be vulnerable to labor trafficking.”
It added that “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. NGOs and government officials have reported Vincentians have been subjected to both forced labor and sex trafficking in foreign countries.”