The government increased law enforcement efforts. The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2011 criminalized sex trafficking and forced labor and prescribed punishments of 15 years imprisonment, a fine of 250,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($92,590), or both. These penalties were sufficiently stringent. However, by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the penalties were not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government investigated seven suspected cases of trafficking; this compared with three cases each year in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Of the seven cases, none resulted in arrest or prosecution due to a lack of evidence. The government requested and received technical assistance from an NGO, with partial foreign government funding, to improve law enforcement’s capacity to conduct victim-centered investigations. The government continued to cooperate with Trinidadian law enforcement to investigate a 2016 sex trafficking case involving a Vincentian national. With assistance from an EU grant, the police created a new survey tool that enabled new data collection on trafficking in the country; implementation was ongoing at the end of the reporting period. The police conducted several spot investigations at local bars and nightclubs throughout the country to surveil for trafficking. Authorities indicated the police need additional personnel and resources to more effectively investigate cases of trafficking.
There were no prosecutions during the reporting period (none in 2016), and the government has never convicted a trafficker. The government did not report any investigations of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses. The government provided funding for three investigators from the police department’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit (ATIPU) to participate in training in Guyana and Jamaica. The ATIPU conducted specialized anti-trafficking training for 69 new police recruits. The government signed a new bilateral agreement with Taiwan to increase training and coordination to combat trafficking.