The government maintained efforts to protect victims; while it strengthened policies and procedures for identifying and assisting victims, it provided few details about services provided to victims identified during the year. The government formally identified 10 trafficking victims, a slight increase from eight victims identified during the previous reporting period. Identified victims included six Jamaican girls and one Jamaican woman, who were survivors of sex trafficking, and three Colombian men, who were survivors of forced labor. The government did not report whether it referred any victims to government-run shelters or other forms of lodging. During the previous reporting period, the government referred three victims to government shelters. The government reported providing all identified victims with care and services that may have included accommodation, food and clothing, medical care, counseling and psycho-social support, legal and immigration assistance, training and educational support, or employment assistance, but it did not provide additional details on the specific services provided or the scope and duration of this assistance. The government did not report funding for protection and assistance to victims, which had decreased significantly in the previous reporting period. Local experts reported the government likely provided shelter or other services to some child trafficking victims it did not formally identify and classified them as victims of other crimes.
The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) launched a new three-digit hotline replacing its previous number for reporting cases of child abuse, including human trafficking, and it expanded the hotline’s operations to 24 hours per day, seven days per week, including public holidays. To respond to conditions imposed by the pandemic, CPFSA provided hotline personnel the necessary equipment to operate the hotline while working remotely and hired additional staff to sustain the hotline’s expanded hours. CPFSA identified 25 cases of suspected child trafficking, including 14 through calls to its hotline, and referred all 25 cases to the specialized police unit for investigation. In addition, the Office of the Children’s Advocate launched a 24 hours per day, seven days per week phone line and messaging platform to provide immediate psycho-social support directly to children. Authorities reported one suspected trafficking victim contacted the helpline but disengaged before authorities could make a referral.
The government continued to use its 2013 victim management guidelines and several ministry-specific SOPs for identifying victims, but these tools were not comprehensive, and local experts could not verify how consistently officials applied them. Police reported screening for indicators of trafficking among individuals arrested for “prostitution”-related violations but did not identify victims through this method. In December 2021, the government officially launched and began standardized implementation of a set of tools, developed in partnership with an NGO during the previous reporting period, to strengthen victim identification and referral procedures for child victims. These resources included ministry-specific screening tools to guide officials in assessing behavioral, situational, health, and other factors to identify potential child trafficking victims among vulnerable groups; victim intake and case management forms; and an NRM to standardize procedures for victim referral and management of care. CPFSA established an internal technical advisory committee that oversaw efforts to pilot the screening tools and NRM, including through training to 83 child protection staff. The government held numerous training sessions on identifying and referring child trafficking victims using the NRM, reaching more than 300 customs officers, labor officials, justices of the peace, NGO staff, and tourism industry professionals. Also, in December 2021, the government launched a new human trafficking handbook (developed with technical assistance from an NGO) to improve anti-trafficking knowledge and expertise across government sectors. The handbook was disseminated across various ministries and made available online. The NRM established a stronger role for service providers in conducting needs assessments and providing case management to child victims; however, it continued to require all reports of suspected trafficking to go through the JCF’s anti-trafficking and vice crimes unit for formal identification and investigation. The government reported contracting Cuban medical professionals during the year, but authorities did not acknowledge these workers as being at high risk for forced labor, despite ongoing concerns by international experts that the Government of Cuba may have compelled some of them to work.
JCF, NATFATIP, and in the case of child victims, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) worked in consultation to arrange accommodation and other services to formally-identified victims on a case-by-case basis. In March 2022, the government opened a new child- friendly space for interviewing and assisting child victims, operated by the JCF’s Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) in Trelawny Parish. This multidisciplinary space, developed with donor funding and technical assistance from an NGO, was designed to provide child victims with a safe and private location to access immediate law enforcement and medical attention, as well as referral to additional services in a trauma-informed setting. NATFATIP operated a shelter exclusively for trafficking victims, which could accommodate 12 female victims, and arranged private lodging for some victims, including men; in addition, authorities could place child victims in CPFSA facilities or female victims in NGO-operated shelters that were not exclusive to trafficking victims. The government did not report how many victims received services in government shelters. As part of a new initiative, CPFSA collaborated with an NGO to provide training on trauma-informed care to 60 potential foster parents. The government reported adult victims had the option of residing in the government’s specialized shelter or in private accommodation; in practice, however, authorities limited some victims’ options based on an independent police assessment of the victim’s security risks. Authorities placed victims deemed to be at high risk in private accommodations, guarded by police, and they were unable to move freely. The government closely monitored, and sometimes restricted, victims’ movement while residing in the specialized shelter. These high security measures may have re-traumatized some victims. CPFSA had a protocol for providing services to child trafficking victims under the agency’s care, and the government had victim management guidelines for facilities that provided care to victims of trafficking in Jamaica.
The government took measures to adapt protection services during the pandemic, including through providing staff and victims in government facilities with personal protective equipment and designating quarantine and isolation areas in all residential facilities for children. Nonetheless, because of the pandemic’s constraints on space and resources, child victims’ placement into shelters was sometimes delayed, and transfers of children into foster care or reintegration with their families may have been completed prematurely. Some facilities struggled to maintain adequate stock of food and supplies.
The government provided few long-term services to support victims’ reintegration, prevent re-exploitation, or sustain protection throughout the duration of lengthy court cases. The government continued to fund training for a Haitian woman who has been a resident of the NATFATIP shelter since 2013, but authorities did not take steps to assist her in safely transitioning to long-term independence outside the shelter. Foreign victims were able to access the same services as Jamaican victims. The government did not have a formal policy to provide residency to foreign victims who faced hardship or retribution upon return to their home countries, but authorities could provide this assistance to victims on a case-by-case basis. No victims received residency during the reporting period. The government repatriated three Colombian victims.
The Ministry of Justice’s Victim Service Division (VSD) offered court orientation sessions for victims participating in the judicial process, including children, and officers from VSD or CPFSA accompanied victims testifying in court. The government provided witness protection services to three victims. In certain instances, justice officials permitted victims to provide testimony through video or written statements, and authorities reported using a system of referral documents to minimize the need for victims to recount the details of their experiences. However, the government did not allocate adequate human or financial resources to provide victims with sustained support during legal processes, and authorities did not always employ victim-centered procedures. Years- long court cases, re-traumatization during the criminal justice process, and fear of reprisal further disincentivized victims from reporting cases or participating in trials. The government reported several ministries coordinated to assist a Jamaican victim to provide witness testimony in a case in Bahamian court.
Jamaica’s anti-trafficking law directed the court to order restitution to victims, but unlike last year, courts did not order any convicted traffickers to pay restitution to victims. Jamaican law protected trafficking victims from prosecution for immigration or prostitution-related offenses traffickers compelled them to commit, but it did not provide immunity for other unlawful acts traffickers may have compelled victims to commit. Due to inadequate screening for indicators of potential trafficking among vulnerable populations, including children apprehended for gang-related criminal activity, authorities may have penalized some victims. In February 2022, authorities shot and killed a 15-year-old boy when he attempted to escape the juvenile facility where he was in custody for his involvement in a 2021 robbery; in news reports, the boy’s family has alleged that he was forced at gunpoint to participate in the robbery.