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Several Caribbean Nations Make Trafficking In Persons Report

CaribWorldNews, WASHINGTON, D.C., Weds. June 17, 2009: In Suriname, Guyanese women and girls are forced into street prostitution and are trafficked into the sex trade near both legal and illegal gold mining camps in the Amazon jungle. That`s just one of the issues highlighted in the US` latest report on trafficking in persons, which said several Caribbean nations still are affected by the crime.

Most of those affected are women being trafficked for sex or forced domestic servitude while in other instances, children were the apparent victims of child sex tourism.

Making the 2009 list are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Suriname, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. The report, released by the U.S. State Department Tuesday, shows that most of the Caribbean nations were listed as Tier 2 countries, meaning their governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act  but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

Antigua and Barbuda was listed `as a destination country for women trafficked from Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic for the purposes of sexual exploitation.`

The U.S. said the island `may also be a destination country for women trafficked for the purposes of forced domestic servitude.` And the Obama administration cited Antigua for not fully complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and recommended it develop and implement a comprehensive anti-human trafficking law.

The Bahamas also made the cut, with U.S. officials saying the country is a destination country for men and women trafficked from Haiti and other Caribbean countries primarily for the purpose of forced labor, and women from Jamaica and other countries trafficked for the purpose of commercial sex.

The Bahamas government is being urged to take steps to identify trafficking victims among migrants attempting to enter The Bahamas illegally; investigate, prosecute, and punish suspected human trafficking offenders; create and implement a national trafficking public awareness and prevention program; and allocate resources for the victim assistance measures mandated by the new anti-trafficking law.

Barbados landed on the Tier Two list as well with U.S. officials saying the island is a destination country for women from the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Jamaica trafficked for the purpose of sex. U.S. authorities also say Barbados is a destination for men from China, India, and Guyana trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation in construction and other sectors.

Jamaica also made the Tier Two Watch list because U.S. authorities say the country `is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor.`

`Victims are typically recruited by persons close to them or newspaper advertisements promoting work as spa attendants, masseuses, or dancers; after being recruited, victims are coerced into prostitution,` said the report, adding that  Jamaican children also may be subjected to conditions of forced labor as domestic servants while child sex tourism in resort areas has been identified as a problem.

The U.S. wants Jamaican authorities to expand efforts to investigate, convict, and punish traffickers for their crimes.

While in Trinidad and Tobago, U.S. officials say foreign victims, including women who voluntarily enter the country to engage in prostitution, may subsequently be trafficked after being deceived by unscrupulous recruiters about the true nature and conditions of their employment. The country made the Tier Two list and the Patrick Manning government is being urged to enact legislation to prohibit all forms of human trafficking and to increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offense.

Belize made the Tier Two Watch list, since U.S. officials say it is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sex and forced labor. A country lands on the Tier Two Watch list if a determination is made that a country is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.

`The most common form of trafficking in Belize is the internal sex trafficking of minors, particularly situations where poor families push their school-aged daughters to provide sexual favors to wealthy older men in exchange for school fees, money, and gifts,` said the report.

Belize authorities are being urged to increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders, including any allegedly complicit public officials.
Also making the Tier Two Watch list were the Dominican Republic and Guyana.

U.S. authorities said women from the Dominican Republic are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Haiti, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Panama, Slovenia, Suriname, Switzerland, Turkey, and Venezuela.

`Child sex tourism is a problem, particularly in coastal resort areas, with child sex tourists arriving year-round from various countries, particularly Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada, and the United States and reportedly numbering in the thousands,` added the report.

While Haitian nationals, including children, who voluntarily migrate illegally to the Dominican Republic may subsequently be subjected to forced labor in the service, construction, and agriculture sectors, said U.S. officials.

In Guyana, the State Department said Guyanese trafficking victims have been identified within the country, as well as in Barbados, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname.

The majority of victims are trafficked internally for sexual and labor exploitation in the more heavily populated coastal areas and in the remote areas of the country`s interior.

`Many trafficking victims along the coast are Amerindian teenagers, targeted by traffickers because of poor education and job prospects in their home regions,` said the report, adding that `Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese girls, however, have also been trafficked for commercial sex and labor.`
While St. Vincent and Grenadines was put on the Tier Two Watch list because the State Department said it `is a potential source country for children trafficked internally for the purposes of sexual exploitation.` The Ralph Gonsalves government is being urged to `develop and implement a comprehensive anti-trafficking laws.`

However, Cuba made the tier Three cut meaning it did `not make significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards.` Such an assessment could prompt the United States to withhold non-humanitarian, non-trade-related foreign assistance. U.S. authorities again claim that Cuba `is principally a source of women and children trafficked within the country for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation` and that `some Cuban children are reportedly pushed into prostitution by their families, exchanging sex for money, food, or gifts.`

`The ninth annual Trafficking in Persons Report sheds light on the faces of modern-day slavery and on new facets of this global problem,` said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday. `The human trafficking phenomenon affects virtually every country, including the United States. In acknowledging America`s own struggle with modern-day slavery and slavery-related practices, we offer partnership. We call on every government to join us in working to build consensus and leverage resources to eliminate all forms of human trafficking.`

But she insisted, `The Trafficking Report is not an indictment of past failures, but a guide for future progress.`