The Saint Lucia government’s efforts to identify and protect human trafficking victims remain inadequate.
That’s the conclusion of the US 2016 Trafficking in Persons report.
According to the report, the government here does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
But it noted that significant efforts to do so are being made.
Nevertheless, the document noted that despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period.
“Saint Lucia is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor,” according to the report released by the US State Department.
It observed that documented and undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean and South Asia, including domestic workers, are the groups most vulnerable to human trafficking.
The report noted that local and foreign children are subjected to sex trafficking, including by parents and caregivers.
“Foreign women in prostitution are also vulnerable to sex trafficking,” it said, adding that NGOs report disadvantaged young women from rural areas are vulnerable as well.
It disclosed that according to the government, business owners from St. Lucia, India, China, Cuba, and Russia are the most likely trafficking perpetrators.
Saint Lucia has been placed on the Tier 2 Watch List.
According to the United States State Department, the Tier 2 Watch List comprises countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, but are making significant efforts to do so.
The list also includes countries where the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing and there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year.
The US report recommends that Saint Lucia vigorously prosecute, convict, and punish perpetrators of forced labor and sex trafficking, including officials complicit in human trafficking.
It also urges the authorities here to take measures, respective of due process, to enhance the speed with which trafficking cases are prosecuted.
The report said the government initiated one labor trafficking investigation in the reporting period, and reported four prosecutions and no convictions.
“The government has never convicted a trafficker,” it reported.