Trafficking in Persons 2013: Antigua and Barbuda
By Dialogo July 25, 2013
According to the Trafficking in Persons Report published by the U.S. Department of State in June 2013, Antigua and Barbuda is a destination and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, but the country is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s standards.
Legal and undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean region, notably from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, as well as from Southeast Asia, reportedly comprise the population most vulnerable to trafficking, said the report. According to several sources, forced prostitution occurs in bars, taverns, and brothels. Incidences of forced labor have occurred in domestic service and in the retail sector.
Despite severe budget limitations, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda demonstrated a proactive approach to identifying trafficking victims and providing them with quality services.
The report noted that both the minister of national security and the director of gender affairs continued to be leaders in the prevention of human trafficking during the reporting period. For another year, the government did not report any convictions or punishments of trafficking offenders.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Act 2010 prohibits forced prostitution and forced labor, including bonded labor, and prescribes punishments of 20 to 30 years’ imprisonment with fines. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The law is comprehensive, and includes extensive victim protection measures, though several local officials have expressed concern that the law requires trafficking crimes be heard in lower court, which appears to treat trafficking as a less serious crime.
During the reporting period, the government provided in-kind support to International Organization for Migration (IOM)-led capacity building and technical skills training workshops for government officials.
The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Act 2010 protects identified victims from punishment for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their having been trafficked, and authorities collaborated with IOM to repatriate foreign victims safely and voluntarily.
The government demonstrated significant trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period.