Why Barbados is now on Trafficking in Persons watch list – same rating as Bangladesh, Guyana, Philippines, Yemen… and below Cambodia!

Barbados downgrade the natural result of our all-talk-no-action politicians

On Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) that downgraded Barbados to the Tier 2 Watch List. This downgrade is one rating above the bottom.

After reading the 2010 TIP report it is apparent that the downgrade is a result of the United States’ realisation that our Barbados government delivers fine words but little real action when it comes to fighting trafficking in persons. Oh sure, the Barbados Government had some public awareness announcements and politicians made some fine statements when the 2009 TIP Report was released, but guess what? The USA just told our politicians that talk counts for nothing. Wuhloss! What are the DLP politicians, police and immigration officials going to do now?

Tier rankings and narratives are NOT affected by the following:
•    efforts, however laudable, undertaken exclusively by nongovernmental actors in the country;
•    public awareness events – government-sponsored or otherwise – lacking concrete ties to prosecution of traffickers, protection of victims, or prevention of trafficking; and,
•    broad-based development or law enforcement initiatives without a discrete human trafficking focus.

… from page 22 of the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report

Our friends over at Keltruth Blog spotted this comment in the report…

“The [Barbados] government made weak efforts to prevent human trafficking …”

“Weak efforts” You can only pretend to be doing something for so long before folks catch on – and the United States just delivered a message to Barbados that they know we took the aid money and did nothing substantial. As mentioned in the current and previous TIP reports, Barbados has been “drafting” a comprehensive anti-trafficking law since 2007. The 2010 TIP Report mentions that Barbados “continued” to draft this legislation – which is diplomatic terminology for “did nothing, achieved nothing”.

Are Bajans surprised at the downgrade? Not at all!

For years our governments also claimed to be “drafting” integrity legislation, freedom of information legislation, a Ministerial code of conduct, an environmental protection act and a host of other laws. We’re not including in this list the dozens of other legislative changes that our politicians have said they are “considering” because if we did that we’d run out of space.

But whether the politicians say they are “drafting” or “considering” legislation, it all amounts to the same thing: show business politics where the Government Ministers hold press conferences and announce they are “going to” do something in the future and the Bajan news media parrots the press releases like something really happened.

Our politicians have to learn that press conferences, public speeches and plans only appear to be “action” for a short time. After that, people catch on… as did the United States Department of State.

“Law enforcement and immigration officials continued to summarily deport undocumented foreigners without determining whether they are trafficking victims, the government opened no investigations into possible cases of sex or labor trafficking, and it did not prosecute any trafficking cases during the year. Therefore, Barbados is placed on tier 2 Watch List.”

… from page 73 of the Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 (available at US Dept. of State link here)

Barbados Police & Immigration: Not one Trafficking in Persons investigation

The TIP report criticises our Royal Barbados Police Force and immigration officials for failing to launch even one investigation despite numerous reports of trafficking in persons in our country as stated in the report. Again, our government, immigration officials and police can talk fine words all they want but that only works for a time before someone asks for real results.

The report accuses our law enforcement officials of deporting illegal immigrants without caring whether or not they are victims of trafficking. This is the worst abuse because it makes powerless and vulnerable people victims all over again. As the TIP report states and human rights proponents know –

“Deporting victims to their countries of origin without meaningful consent puts victims’ lives at risk – many face re-trafficking, violence, and sometimes death – and often allows perpetrators of forced labor or prostitution to evade justice. It is a government’s responsibility to immediately provide suspected foreign victims who have been exploited within its borders with protection and treatment, an explanation of their rights, and a choice to avoid deportation if they face danger in their own countries.”

… from page 19 of the Trafficking in Persons Report 2010

What about the Child Sex Trafficking report by BANGO Director Roosevelt O. King?

The statement in the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report that the Barbados Police hadn’t launched even one investigation is strange – considering the public report by a community leader about child sex trafficking from the USA to the Caribbean.

BANGO Secretary General Roosevelt O. King

On August 3, 2009 in a stunning public statement on Barbados Underground, a popular Bajan blog, the Secretary General of the Barbados Association of Non-Governmental Organisations revealed that he has personal knowledge of international trafficking of American girls as young as 14 years old for the purposes of prostitution and making porn movies in the Caribbean.

The BANGO official also stated that he speaks with the girls and the people who are recruiting and trafficking them and that he is flooded with emails, photos and videos from some of the girls being trafficked after they return to the United States.

Barbados Free Press covered this story in August 2009 and again on May 14, 2010 (read the story at BFP here).

Is the Trafficking in Persons 2010 report wrong about the Barbados police not investigating even one case of human trafficking in 2009? Surely Mr. King would have reported the child-sex trafficking victims to the police? Surely the police would have launched an investigation upon reading Mr. King’s article at the Barbados Underground blog?

Next Article: Connections between the Porn Industry and Trafficking in Persons

This ends Part 1 of our Trafficking in Persons series. Our second article will explore the links between the Pornography Industry and trafficking in persons.

You can read the U.S. Department of State 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report and all previous years reports at the U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons reports archive.

Here are some further excerpts from the Trafficking in Persons Report 2010…The Tier System


Countries whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards


Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards

TIER 2 WATCH LIST (Barbados)

Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards AND:
a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing; or
b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or
c) The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year


Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so

Barbados (tier 2 Watch List)

Barbados is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution and forced labor. Some children in Barbados are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation in “transactional sex” wherein a third party such as a parent receives a benefit from the child’s participation in sexual activity.

Researchers identified patterns of transactional sex within families, most often by adult male caretakers such as step-fathers, as well as child prostitution outside the home. Women from the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Jamaica voluntarily enter Barbados as illegal migrants, and some expect to engage in prostitution. Some of these women are exploited in forced prostitution subsequent to their arrival. Some other foreign women who entered the country illegally are exploited in involuntary domestic servitude in private homes.

Foreign men have been transported to Barbados for the purpose of labor exploitation in construction and other sectors. Sex traffickers, primarily organized criminals from Guyana, form partnerships with pimps and brothel owners from Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, and lure women to Barbados with offers of legitimate work. Trafficking victims tend to enter the country through legal means, usually by air; traffickers later use force and coercion to obtain and maintain the victims’ work in strip clubs, massage parlors, some private residences, and “entertainment clubs” which operate as brothels.

Traffickers use methods such as threats of physical harm or deportation, debt bondage, false contracts, psychological abuse, and confinement to force victims to work in construction, the garment industry, agriculture, or private households.

The Government of Barbados does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these efforts, particularly an aggressive public campaign begun by government ministries and the continued drafting of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, the government’s overall efforts did not improve over the reporting period. Law enforcement and immigration officials continued to summarily deport undocumented foreigners without determining whether they are trafficking victims, the government opened no investigations into possible cases of sex or labor trafficking, and it did not prosecute any trafficking cases during the year. therefore, Barbados is placed on tier 2 Watch List.

“As the crime of trafficking does not officially exist in Barbadian law, there are no legal protections provided for trafficking victims. Existing facilities which provide assistance to victims of other crimes, such as rape and child abuse, that are partially funded by the government and run by NGOs, may have provided services to child victims of sex trafficking without having identified them as human trafficking victims. neither government nor NGO personnel could provide information about whether any trafficking victims were identified at these facilities.”


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Human Rights, Immigration, Police, Politics, Slavery

11 responses to “Why Barbados is now on Trafficking in Persons watch list – same rating as Bangladesh, Guyana, Philippines, Yemen… and below Cambodia!

  1. akabozik

    I have two comments about your article.

    1/ You hit the nail on the head when you say that our government is all talk and no action.

    2/ As far as Mr. King’s statements about child sex trafficking go, BANGO should fire him or make a statement. If Mr. King’s statements were true (at least his statements about having knowledge of child sex trafficking) then he must show he reported the matter to the police OR HE MUST RESIGN FROM BANGO.

  2. salted fish

    We are rated below Cambodia? OMG!!!!!!

  3. Snappa

    akabozik – June 17, 2010 at 9:55 am

    FYI, Mr. King does not have to show he reported the matter to the police. If it matters you that much then you should take the time and energy to carry out your own investigation to know whether he did or not.

  4. Red Lake Lassie

    Snappa, Mr. King is a public figure at the head of an agency that receives government funding and is given standing at government boards and inquiries.

    It does matter very much whether Mr. King reported the child sex trafficking or not.

    As the police and the US State Department say no investigations were performed, I take that as evidence that Mr. King did not report to police.

    That matters to me and many others.

  5. Pingback: Global Voices in English » Barbados: Trafficking Rating

  6. WSD

    I agree wholeheartedly with Red Lake Lassie but I will add that it doesn’t matter that Roosevelt O. King is a public figure. Anyone who wrote about contact with child prostitutes should be interviewed by the police PRONTO!

    Was he interviewed by the police? Is there no enterprising reporter from the real news media with the balls to follow up on this story? King’s writings are still posted at Barbados Underground. There should be no problem for him to explain himself.

  7. Anonymous

    So because there were no reported cases or cases of convictions then you are not doing your job? And we get a poor rating! People this doesn’t make sense,its like suggesting that If there is No smoke then clearly there Is a fire and people are doing nothing to out it.

  8. BANGO bangs

    The Nation is reporting that Bango wants to take over Louis Lynch school. I have to ask “what for? making child porn movies?”

    Sooner or later Bango will have to answer for Mr. Kings writings at Barbados Underground.

  9. Syn

    If there are no laws as they relate to the above offenses then there can be no laws regulating the reporting of said offenses – what “crime” would Mr. king be reporting to the police if the laws to make these actions a crime do not exist?? Yes, Mr. King should have said something to the police if he did and there was no crime then there would have been no report, no investigation and therefore no proof for Mr. King to present that he made said report – it will be he said she said – the whole point of the article is that laws need to be put in place – both to make these actions a crime and to ensure that these crimes get reported so they can be investigated – think things through from beginning to end people before you say things you think people want to hear – and while I am not for people breaking promises give the government a chance – yes they made promises – but 100 days to create laws to police political corrupition – ya all had to know that was a bold faced lie – the same with trafficking the US can sit up on their high horse but ummmm their entire economy was founded on trafficking (:) i laugh at myself) and the amount of human trafficking they still have is ridiculous and they have entire agencies and millions of dollars pouring in to stop it – they should watch what the watchlists and see how others would rate them before they run off willy nilly downgradin people – I would rather my government take its time to create a strategy that might actually prevent the crime and assist the victims than worry about how others see them and blow smoke up everybodies assess.
    That is all

  10. AE

    Im sorry? There are no laws related to child pornography and human slavery? Because Barbados has turned a blind eye to human trafficking (more than likely to protect its sea blue image to protect tourism), and Parliament has refused to make, specifically, TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS a crime, it does not mean that the activities that this umbrella covers do not equate to crimes.

    Aside from Mr. King’s comments (which I take serious issue with as he has not reported them, yes the crimes) Barbados needs to step up and face what is going on in this country. First of all, sex with a minor, Syn, IS A CRIME. Prostitution, at the very least, living off of the proceeds of prostitution, Syn, IS A CRIME, much less prostitution of a minor.

    Holding a person against their will, IS A CRIME. Call it trafficking, or better yet, call it kidnapping.. Syn, these are all CRIMES that happen when someone is trafficked. So yes, Mr. King has a duty, especially as the SG of the NGO’s of Barbados to report these CRIMES, and law enforcement has a duty to address these crimes. If you think ignoring the fact that trafficking happens here (which I have been boldly told by both law enforcement and immigration authorities), is making Barbados “look good”, its doing the exact opposite. You think moving to Tier 2 (watchlist) is the worst that can happen? No way. We can quickly move to Tier 3, and soon travel agencies will warn their clients not to travel to this little rock.

    So Syn, what do you think? Wait for the legislators to realize how serious this matter is years down the line and blame the US? Or should we deal with this matter now, recognize it as a problem and clean up barbados and rid this great place of the disgusting scummy traffickers who taint our island?

  11. bubbilots

    It is interesting to read the comments elicited by one report. A more comprehensive reading of reports on Barbados and human trafficking during the years would lead a more balanced view – even though our government still needs a thumping for its lack of action.

    First of all this is not a partisan issue. All of the parties, when in government, have dragged their feet.

    We do have laws which prohibit slavery but while international agencies have said they are strict enough, I feel we need to add another ten to fifteen years to the penalty.

    More troubling is the fact highlighted in other reports that when traffickers are identified, the Immigration Department deports them before they can testify.

    Public awareness campaigns are important especially when they make us realize that while we are shouting with righteous indignation against trafficking, WE( and by we I mean the persons reading and writing this blog) might actually be benefitting from trafficked labour or contributing to its existence.

    How did you manage to build the house at 3/4 the usual cost? By using imported labour. After you paid the contractor who ‘brought in’ these workers and has been housing them in horrendous conditions, do you know or care if they were paid the agreed wage?

    When you attended that high fallutin cocktail party did you notice the maid serving the drinks lives in a little room in the house the size of a toilet, gets paid next kin to nothing and is too frightened to complain because of what the guy who organized the contract might do?

    When you organized sex with the ‘little ting’ did you find out if she was woman or child before you sorted out the money or the sex?

    What about the cheap clothes you buy; How did they get so cheap?

    The press is not helping either. They are not investigating stories thoroughly. A few years ago a Bajan with a prominent family name was charged with living off of some Russian women and holding their passports. What ever happened to that case? The alleged trafficker? The trafficked? The press needs to go beyond the immediate sensationalization of the court report and really educate the people.