Jamaica has been listed among those countries having a severe problem with sex trafficking and the forced labour of children and women.
That’s according to the 2015 Trafficking in Persons report, published today by the US State Department.
The report lists Jamaica as a Tier-2 country.
This designation means that while the country has made efforts to address the problem of human trafficking, it has failed to comply fully with minimum standards.
The report describes Jamaica as a source and destination country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.
It says the sex trafficking of Jamaican women and children occurs on the streets, in night clubs, bars, massage parlors and private homes along with resort towns.
It also recognizes, the high number of children reported as missing in the country, noting that many will likely be subjected to forced labor or prostitution.
Foreign nationals have also been reported as being trafficked in the country and aboard foreign-flagged fishing vessels operating in our waters.
The report was equally damning of the police and politicians, noting that lawmen and prominent members of the political elite are complicit in prostitution rings, including the sexual coercion of children.
The report notes that progress had been made by the government, including the appointment of a Trafficking in Persons Rapporteur, along with public education on the issue.
But it says the government failed to secure any trafficking convictions in the last six years and that a recent trafficking trial resulted in a hung jury, with no jail time being imposed on the accused.
The report recommends that the government vigorously prosecute, convict and punish traffickers, including any officials complicit in the act.
It also recommends that the government identify and assist more victims and develop a new, comprehensive national action plan with adequate funding.