The government maintained prosecution efforts. The 2010 Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Act criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 400,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($148,150) for offenses involving an adult victim, and up to 25 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 600,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($222,220) for those involving a child victim. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. During the reporting period, the government adopted amendments to the trafficking law, notably removing penalty provisions that previously allowed for fines in lieu of imprisonment for trafficking offenses. Authorities investigated seven cases of potential trafficking, compared to eight in 2017. One of the investigations arose out of a joint, multi-country operation involving the national Trafficking in Persons Prevention Committee (TPPC), police, immigration and other agencies, and Interpol in a raid on two nightclubs. Five of the investigations arose from referrals from immigration officials to the TPPC under an inter-departmental memorandum of understanding. Upon review of the seven new investigations, prosecutors determined only three were trafficking-related. In two cases, the victims chose not to assist the investigation and returned home and the government did not prosecute those cases. Authorities determined the third case was not trafficking. Four of eight investigations begun in 2017 were still pending at the end of the reporting period. Prosecutors did not initiate any new prosecutions during the past two reporting periods. The government has never reported any trafficking convictions, due in part to judicial delays.
The police standards committee completed a hearing on a pending 2015 case of three police officers suspected of indirect involvement in trafficking crimes, but it did not publish the penalties for the officers. Over the past three years, the police force typically chose administrative sanctions for officers suspected or implicated in trafficking, rather than charging them with a crime under the country’s trafficking laws. The government did not report any other investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses. The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Secretariat and the Education Task Force trained a total of 108 police officers, labor inspectors, labor union officials, immigration officers, airline employees, and TPPC members in using trafficking indicators. The TPPC, together with an international organization, also trained 19 police officers to be trainers, enabling them to conduct future trainings in-house. The government liaised with Jamaican and Trinidadian government authorities on trafficking cases.