(Jamaica Observer) The United States (US) State Department has expressed concern that some members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force could be involved in human trafficking.
In its 2021 Trafficking in Person Report, released late last week, the State Department said, “Some police allegedly facilitated or participated in sex trafficking.” As it kept Jamaica in Tier 2 ranking which indicates that the Jamaican Government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.
“As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Jamaica, and traffickers exploit victims from Jamaica abroad.
“Sex trafficking of Jamaican women and children, including boys, reportedly occurs on streets and in nightclubs, bars, massage parlours, hotels, and private homes, including in resort towns,” said the US State Department.
It noted that observers believe sex trafficking operations in Jamaica have become more clandestine as a result of the pandemic.
“Traffickers increasingly use social media platforms and false job offers to recruit victims. Communities vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labour include young women and children from poor households, child victims of sexual abuse, homeless LGBTQI+ youth, residents of Jamaica’s poverty-stricken areas effectively controlled by criminal ‘dons,’ migrant workers, and workers in the informal sector, particularly on family farms and in markets and shops.
“Traffickers subject children and adults to forced begging and women and children to domestic servitude. Girls, sometimes coerced by family members, are subjected to sex trafficking by men who provide monetary or material payment to the girls or their families in exchange for sex acts; local observers report this form of child sex trafficking may be widespread in some communities,” said the report.
It pointed out that children from rural Jamaica, and possibly from other Caribbean countries, who are sent to live with more affluent family members or acquaintances sometimes become exploited in forced labour in private households, markets, or shops.
“Gang members may exploit children in forced begging or in forced criminal activity, including as lookouts, armed gunmen, or couriers of weapons and drugs; there were reports that criminal organisations exploited children in forced criminal activity in lotto-scamming.
Pandemic mitigation measures exacerbated existing trafficking risks and increased the number of individuals vulnerable to trafficking, particularly among children who were not able to leave their homes or attend school for much of the year and economically vulnerable households that relied on income from international tourism.”
The report noted that many children are reported missing in Jamaica and charged that traffickers exploit some of these children in forced labour or sex trafficking.
“Traffickers have exploited Jamaican citizens in sex trafficking and forced labour abroad, including in other Caribbean countries, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Jamaican women have reported being charged high recruitment fees, being misled about their terms of employment, and compelled through threats to continue working in the United States’ hospitality industry,” said the report.