The US State Department has lauded this country’s efforts at meeting the minimum standards for eliminating trafficking in persons, in its 2018 report published this week.
But at the same time, it has pointed to some of the Island’s failings.
The report observed that although the government of Saint Lucia does not fully meet the minimum standards, it is making significant efforts to do so.
It disclosed that the government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period and therefore remained on Tier 2, which includes governments that do not fully meet the minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
Countries whose governments fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standard are grouped together on Tier 1.
“The (Saint Lucia) government demonstrated increasing efforts by cooperating with Caribbean countries to exchange trafficking reports, conducting a series of public awareness campaigns, and training its personnel in measures to combat trafficking,” the US State Department document noted.
It disclosed that the government sought international funding to build prevention and detection capacity.
However, the report observed that Saint Lucia did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.
“The government did not conduct any investigations, had yet to have a successful prosecution, had yet to convict a trafficker, and had not identified victims for the past two years,” the US State Department said.
According to the report, the government’s anti-trafficking law included sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment, which was not commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes.
“Since 2014, the government had not completed standardized written procedures to identify victims, and did not have sufficiently trained personnel to identify victims. The government did not provide adequate resources to implement its national action plan,” it said.
The report made several recommendations for Saint Lucia.
They included increasing efforts to identify victims; investigate, prosecute, convict, and punish perpetrators of forced labor and sex trafficking; amending the anti-trafficking law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment and providing sufficient resources to fully implement the 2015-2018 national action plan.
In addition, the report urged the government here to develop a national action for the period beyond 2018.
It also called for continued training of government officials to implement procedures to proactively identify labor and sex trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as children exploited in sex trafficking and migrant workers in domestic service, and refer them to appropriate services.