U.S. State Department Issues 2016 Human Trafficking Report: Saint Lucia Makes Watch List!
As reported in last Saturday’s edition of the STAR, the U.S. Department of State considers Saint Lucia a source and destination country for men, women and children suspected for sex trafficking and forced labor. Its June 2016 report says the government of Saint Lucia “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”
Moreover, “the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period.”
Among the State Department’s recommendations for Saint Lucia: “Vigorously prosecute, convict, and punish perpetrators for forced labor and sex trafficking; increase efforts to identify and provide assistance to victims; adopt standard operating procedures on a victim-centered approach to guide police, immigration, labor, child protection and social welfare officers.”
According to the report “the government did not indict any perpetrators in the case involving four potential sex trafficking victims who were identified in 2013 and repatriated to Ukraine and Russia in 2014 with the help of an international organization.”
It also underscored that “the government’s office of public prosecutions has been without senior leadership, contributing to the delay of trafficking prosecutions.” Also that the government “has never reported prosecuting or convicting a public official complicit in trafficking.”
The State Department repeated earlier complaints that the Saint Lucia government’s efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims “remained inadequate” and revealed international NGO and media reports indicated “some nine victims and 60 individuals previously indentified as potential victims paid for their own accommodation and meals . . .” Additionally authorities referred victims on an ad hoc basis to legal, advocacy and crisis service regardless of their legal status.”
The anti-trafficking act contains victim protection provisions such as privacy and witness protection to protect victims who participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers.
The report noted: “Some potential victims and witnesses from a case undergoing prosecution gave statements to the former director of public prosecution but none testified in court during the reporting period.”
The Lambirds students did not receive the assistance due to them as victims.