For the fourth year in a row The Bahamas held onto its tier one ranking in the U.S. Department of State’s 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, as it continues to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts to combat trafficking.
The report said The Bahamas “fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking”.
“The government demonstrated serious and sustained efforts by securing its first conviction since 2015,” the report stated.
“The government also screened more potential trafficking victims, increased funding for victim assistance and collaborated with foreign countries on investigations. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it identified fewer victims and was inconsistent with implementation of screening procedures for vulnerable populations.
“Credible allegations of corruption raised concerns about vulnerabilities to potential trafficking victims during the reporting period.”
Tier one countries are those whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the report notes. While tier one is the highest ranking, the report notes it does not mean that a country has no human trafficking problem.
The report recommended that The Bahamas increase efforts to prosecute, convict and appropriately punish traffickers.
The report added that the government maintained limited efforts to protect victims.
“Authorities continued to implement a formal, victim-centered protocol to guide front-line responders in identifying both sex and labor trafficking victims and referring them to services,” the report said.
“However, concerns remained on the thoroughness of their application when dealing with vulnerable populations, such as migrants. The national trafficking commission funded and trained member agencies and ministries in their roles in identifying and protecting victims and making referrals.
“During the reporting period, the government screened 60 potential trafficking victims and identified one victim, compared with screening 37 potential victims and identifying five victims in 2016. The identified victim received an immigration certificate, government-funded housing, and medical, psychological, legal and reintegration assistance.”
The report said that The Bahamas is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.
“Migrant workers, especially those from Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela and the Philippines, are recruited through false offers of employment, such as through advertisements in foreign newspapers; upon arrival, traffickers subject them to sex trafficking and forced labor, including domestic servitude and in sectors with low-skilled labor. Children born in The Bahamas to foreign-born parents who do not automatically receive Bahamian citizenship, and individuals involved in prostitution and exotic dancing are vulnerable to trafficking.
“Traffickers previously confiscated victims’ passports with greater regularity, but more recently they have victims retain their documents in case they are questioned by law enforcement.”