Combating Trafficking in Persons in Jamaica

The National Taskforce against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP) was established in June 2005 as a multi agency approach to enhance national capacity and to develop and implement Jamaica’s legislative, institutional and operational response for combating Trafficking in Persons.  NATFATIP’s core emphases are the prevention and suppression of Trafficking in Persons; the prosecution of offenders; as well as the protection and provision of assistance to victims of trafficking.

In keeping with domestic legislation- the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) Act, 2007- trafficking in persons is defined by three criteria:

  1. Activity:  The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons.

  2. Means:  By means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power, or a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person.

  3. Purpose:  for the purpose of exploitation.

Chairmanship

The Taskforce was established under the chairmanship of Mrs. Carol Palmer, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice from 2005 to 2008. Subsequent to this, the chairmanship of the Taskforce was held under several Permanent Secretaries under the Ministry of National Security from 2008 to 2012.  In late 2012, the Ministry of Justice resumed Chairmanship of the Taskforce.

Monitoring/Oversight Mechanisms

The Public Order Committee of Cabinet oversees human trafficking in Jamaica and makes recommendation through the Chairperson of the Taskforce, who in turn reports to the Committee. These recommendations are implemented by the Taskforce and further monitored through the Trafficking in Persons Secretariat, which resides in the Ministry of Justice.

Mandate

NATFATIP is mandated in the following areas:

  1. To enhance national capacity to deal with human trafficking;
  2. To Develop and implement Jamaica’s legislative and institutional framework for the elimination of TIP
  3. To Coordinate and implement the National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Person 2012-2015

Membership

The National Taskforce is comprised of representatives of the following Ministries, Agencies, and Organisations:

  • The Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of National Security
  • Ministry of Labour and Social Security
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
  • Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Jamaica Constabulary Force, Trafficking in Persons Unit
  • Jamaica Constabulary Force, Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA)
  • Attorney General’s Chambers
  • Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ)
  • Justice Training Institute
  • Child Development Agency
  • Office of the Children’s Registry
  • Office of the Children’s Advocate
  • Bureau of Women’s Affairs
  • The Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA)
  • The Victim Support Unit
  • The Association of Women’s Organisation of Jamaica (AWOJA)
  • The People’s Action for Community Participation (PACT)
  • Woman Inc.

Subcommittees

The NATFATIP is organised in three subcommittees. These are Protection, Prevention/Public Education and Prosecution. The work of the taskforce is driven by these Sub-Committees through their implementation of the Taskforce’s National Plan of Action.

Legislative Framework

The Government of Jamaica is a signatory to and has ratified the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2002, which declares that State Parties “shall endeavor to undertake measures such, including bilateral or multilateral cooperation, to alleviate the factors that make persons, especially women and children, vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, underdevelopment, and lack of opportunity”. The Protocol was signed 13 February 2002 and ratified 29 September 2003.

In keeping with its international obligation; the acknowledged pervasive and exploitive nature of human trafficking; and the recognized need to protect its citizenry, especially those amongst vulnerable populations, the Government of Jamaica enacted the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression, and Punishment) Act, 2007. This is the main piece of legislation used to prosecute the trafficking in persons offence; however, other supportive legislations are used in that regard. They are:

  • Child Pornography (Prevention) Act, 2009
  • Sexual Offences Act, 2009
  • Child Care and Protection Act, 2004
  • Offences Against the Persons Act, 1864
  • Cybercrimes Act, 2010
  • Proceeds of Crime Act, 2007

The Government of Jamaica's National Plan of Action

The National Plan of Action for combating Trafficking in Persons in Jamaica was approved by the Cabinet in December 2012. The Plan of Action constitutes a robust approach to dealing with Human Trafficking and is organised under three areas, consistent with the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment Act, 2007). These areas are Prevention, Protection and Prosecution.

Achievements of the Task Force

Several mentionable achievements of the Taskforce since its establishment are:

  • Enactment of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) Act in 2007;
  • Establishment of the JCF Trafficking in Persons Unit;
  • Special Prosecutor, in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, specifically to handle all trafficking in persons cases (the Special Prosecutor is a member of the Task Force and heads the Prosecution Sub-Committee);
  • Development and implementation of the first National Plan of Action, endorsed by Cabinet in 2007;
  • Government of Jamaica commissioned study on the scope and nature of human trafficking in Jamaica, conducted by Ricketts and Dunn (2007);
  • Development and dissemination of The Law Enforcement Manual Guide to Investigation: Practicalities of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) Act, 2007, which serves as the formal guide to the proactive identification of victims of human trafficking for all relevant government officials, particularly law enforcement and immigration officials.

Summary Trafficking in Persons Efforts in Jamaica 2012 to 2013

Prosecution

For the Period 2012 to 2013 two hundred and thirteen raids were conducted, up from 32 in 2011 and 10 in 2010. Two Hundred and four (224) persons have been interviewed by the JCF TIP Unit in relation to human trafficking in 2012. Three (3) TIP cases were suspected with 23 victims being rescued.  Seven TIP investigations were launched. Four (4) arrests were made up to March 2013.

In one case of child trafficking two (2) individuals were arrested. The first individual was arrested and charged for child trafficking offences contrary to section 10 (1) of the Child Care and Protection Act. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting this matter.  The second individual involved was arrested and subsequently charged for one (1) count of carnal abuse contrary the Offences Against the Persons Act, and one (1) count of facilitating the trafficking of a child contrary to section 10 (1) of the Child Care and Protection Act.  The preliminary hearing for the matter was held on April 11, 2013.

Three (3) additional suspected cases of trafficking have been identified since April 2013. These are presently being investigated. In one of the cases; two persons have been arrested and positively identified and the matter is before the court. Two new victims have been rescued since April 2013.  The JCF TIP Unit has also collaborated with the police officers from the Bahamas. That joint investigation led to TIP charges in Bahamas.

Though fully compliant with international best practices, standards, conventions and instruments amendments to the Trafficking in Persons Act have been drafted with the bill tabled in the House of Representative. In bolstering the legislative framework to fight human trafficking amendments to the Act include, inter alia

  • expanding the definition of “exploitation” to include debt bondage;
  • increasing penalties from ten (10) years to that of twenty (20) years;
  • providing for the new offence of conspiracy punishable by imprisonment up to 20 years or both fine and imprisonment;
  • outlining aggravating circumstances that the Court may take into account in sentencing;
  • the granting of restitution to the victim within the same proceedings in which the person was convicted.

Protection

In December 2012, Jamaica provided care and shelter for a group of twenty-one (21) Honduran children on board a Honduran fishing vessel intercepted by the JDF in Jamaican Coastal waters. The Ministry of Justice provided alternative shelter accommodation and meals for the children at a cost of JMD $1,029,383.57 along with counselling and medical relief and support through the Victim Support Unit and the Ministry of Health.

The Government of Jamaica in fulfilment of its commitment to establish and have operational a TIP shelter for the care and protection of trafficked victims has identified, refurbished and furnished one premise to be used as a TIP shelter. The shelter has been refurbished and furnished and as at March 2013 is fully operational and ready to house up to ten (10) victims of human trafficking. This has been undertaken at an overall cost of JMD $3,207,171.51. The NATFATIP is also seeking to identify other emergency locations in the event of cases involving large numbers of persons.

In increasing further protection against human trafficking, the Protection Subcommittee in collaboration with the Prosecution Subcommittee has designed a Technical Skills Training Seminar on Human Trafficking for Key Stakeholders. Numerous trainings have been conducted for relevant organization including the PICA, the JCF OCID, CISOCA, CDA, OCA and the OCR.

In March 2013, approximately 50 persons from agencies such as PICA, CISOCA, JCF, Office of the Children’s Advocate, Ministries of National Security, Justice and Labour and Social Security participated in the USA Department of Homeland Security training on TIP/Child Exploitation/Forced Child Labour focussed on sharing best practices related to investigation, prosecution, and victim identification and assistance.

In seeking to improve coordination between Caribbean countries in relation to trafficking in person, a delegation from the Taskforce to include the ODPP, Victim Support Unit, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, participated in a five country (Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago) coordination meeting hosted by the International Organization for Migration in January 2013. The seminar presented a critical opportunity for the gaining of knowledge and capacity building in the area of screening methodology, data collection, sharing methodology and the acquisition of desired data.

A Memorandum of Understanding is currently being developed, with necessary consultations from key stakeholders, aimed at  establishing  a standard protocol to govern TIP data collection and information sharing among key stakeholders such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), CDA, Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) and the Sex Offenders’ Registry.

Ministry of Labour and Social Security also launched the Tackling Child Labour through Education (TACKLE) Project Jamaica with support from the ACP EU. Under this project it undertook the following activities to combat Child Labour in Jamaica:

  • A Baseline Study entitled Knowledge, Attitudes Practices and Behaviour of Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force about Child Labour and the Enforcement of Laws.   This study with the attendant training is intended to strengthen the capacity of the JCF to better enforce the Laws on Child Labour. To this end Two Training Workshops are to be delivered for Divisional Trainers of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. 
  • It is expected that over 70 Officers of the JCF will be trained on issues surrounding Child Labour in Jamaica.
  • Child Labour Handbook for Professionals – following a series of consultations - was launched in late February 2012. This Handbook has added to the body of resource materials locally to address the problem of Child Labour.

Prevention/Public Education

Recognizing that a targeted, well sustained public education campaign is a critical component in preventing and protecting those most vulnerable amongst the population from human trafficking, especially women and children, the National Task Force against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Justice, has embarked on the revitalization of its public education programme with the overall objective to build on past successes and raise greater awareness. 

Towards this end several public awareness/prevention activities for the period April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 were held. They included:

  • Development of a comprehensive, strategic Communication Plan to guide the work of the Public Education Sub-Committee.
  • A Facebook page was developed in March 2013 with the assistance of the Communications Unit in the Ministry of National Security.
  • Distribution of TIP Wallet cards to over 15000 officials working in areas relevant to TIP such as the JCF; CISOCA, Immigration to assist in identifying victims of trafficking.
  • Human Trafficking Forum at St. Elizabeth Technical High School, St. Elizabeth on May 31, 2012. This forum was held as an outreach to students, teachers and guidance counsellors in accordance with the theme, “Be wise: Open your eyes, Spot Them, Stop Them. Be Slick – Don’t be Tricked”.
  • Think Tank Session on Human Trafficking with JIS.
  • Radio Outside Broadcast on Human Trafficking on RJR 94 FM at the Half Way Tree Transport Centre, St. Andrew on December 6, 2012 from 2:00 p.m. -5:00 p.m. The awareness activity was aired on the popular programme ‘Ruption’, hosted by media personality Miss Kitty; this was chosen based on its wide reach amongst the targeted adolescent and young adult demographic, to include high school students, young women and girls, and potential clients of the sex trade.
  • On March 1, 2013 from 2:00 p.m. -5:00 p.m. a Radio Outside Broadcast on Human Trafficking on RJR 94 FM at the Ocean Village Shopping Centre, Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
  • Six Town Hall meetings were conducted island wide last year. Using a multi-agency approach, the Child Development Agency, along with the Office of the Children’s Registry, Office of the Children’s Advocate Ministry of Labour and Social Security; the JCF Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse. The events cumulatively impacted 650 individuals. They were held in: St. James at Granville All Age; Kingston and St. Andrew at Trench Town   Multi-purpose centre; Westmoreland at Sean Lavery Faith Hall; Manchester at Mandeville Parish Church Hall; St. Ann; and St. Catherine.
  • Under the JCF TIP Unit 44 lecturers were conducted to sensitize against Trafficking in Persons. These lecturers resulted in the sensitization of 749 police officers; 481 students at various institutions of learning; and 547 other individuals to include the general public.
  • Ministry of National Security also provided the JCF TIP Unit with equipment and a vehicle to aid in investigations and outreach in the amount of JMD $3,267,458.35.

Planned Activities for 2012 to 2013

A number of activities have been planned for the financial year 2013 to 2014. Some of these include:

  • Study to better understand and uncover  the nature and scope of trafficking in persons in Jamaica
  • Training and sensitization for Prosecutors, Police Personnel, Social Workers, Resident Magistrates and the Judiciary in Trafficking in Persons Act; Civil Forfeiture Provision within the Proceeds of Crime Act; Child Pornography Act; Sexual Offences Act and other TIP related legislation.
  • Comprehensive TIP Training for police officers including new recruits, immigration personnel, and border security.
  • Institutionalization of counter TIP training in the training curricula at the Jamaica Constabulary Staff College and the Passport, Immigration and Citizens Agency for immigration officers.
  • Establishment of Protocol to facilitate greater coordination between the TIP Unit/CISOCA; CDA/VSU/OCA/MOH and other entities involved in care and protection of children.
  • Establishment of standard operating procedures/protocols to govern how victims of trafficking are treated especially woman and children without guardian or those who are mentally ill.
  • National Trafficking in Persons Awareness Week is being planned for the 3rd Quarter of the financial year.

Increased outreach for agencies and organizations such as the Jamaica hotel and Tourist Association, the Tourism Development Company, libraries, schools, service clubs, and community based organizations.