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Barbados on US trafficking ‘watch list’


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Barbados HAS  BEEN put on a human trafficking “watch list”.Against a backdrop  of reported cases of child prostitution, domestic servitude, stepfathers  and other adults  coercing children  into “transactional sex”,  and the involvement  of Guyanese criminals linking with Barbadian and Trinidadian pimps  to lure foreign women  into the country with offers of legitimate jobs, Barbados has been placed on a tier two “watch list” reserved for countries that don’t comply with minimum standards  for the elimination  of human trafficking.Alongside these alarming and depressing charges about Barbados  in the United States State Department’s annual global report  on human trafficking – released on Monday –  the report said Barbados was “making significant efforts to eliminate human trafficking”  but the Government’s approach to the problem was “weak”, especially when it came  to prosecuting trafficking, raising public awareness of the risks and dangers  in trafficking, and  taking steps to end it. Law enforcement  “The Barbados Government made no discernible progress  in its anti-human trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year,” Washington charged.“Law enforcement agencies faced resource constraints and competing priorities. No trafficking offenders were prosecuted during the year. No cases were brought against employers for confiscating passports or travel documents. Barbados has no specific law prohibiting human trafficking, but slavery and forced labour  are constitutionally prohibited,” added the State Department.Among the litany  of trafficking woes which led to Barbados’ relegation to the “watch list”, a group that includes Singapore, Guyana, Russia, Trinidad & Tobago, Belize,  Venezuela, Senegal,  St Vincent & the Grenadines, Algeria, Afghanistan, Tunisia  and Sri Lanka were:• “Transactional sex” within families that enable parents and other adults to benefit  “from  a child’s participation  in sexual activity”.• Women from Guyana, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic enter Barbados voluntarily  but illegally to engage  in prostitution. Others find themselves being coerced into involuntary domestic servitude  in private homes.• The existence  of massage parlours, private residences  and entertainment  as worksites for victims  of trafficking.• Foreign men being brought to the country and then exploited  in construction  and other sectors  of the labour market.• Threats of physical violence or deportation, the use of debt bondage, false contracts  and psychological abuse, not to mention confinement in order  to get foreign men  and women to work in a variety of fields, including  the garment industry.• Summary deportation of undocumented foreigners by the Government without determining  if they were victims  of trafficking.Although the nation’s Minister of Youth, Family and Sport has spoken out against child prostitution on several occasions,  there was no significant improvement in the situation facing victims. What is needed  The State Department wants Barbados  to enact a comprehensive anti-trafficking law; aggressively investigate cases of suspected trafficking; and haul abusers before  the nation’s courts. It also urged Government to develop  a national plan  to identify, combat  and prevent trafficking.The report acknowledged that Government had  launched a vigorous public campaign  to educate people  about the dangers  of trafficking, and had begun drafting proposed legislation to deal  with the nightmare –  but it had not done  nearly enough.The countries with the best trafficking records are found in North America and Europe, according to the report. The countries with  the worst trafficking records are found  in the Caribbean,  Latin America,  Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The Dominican Republic was given  the worst rating:  tier three.  (TB)