ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Antigua & Barbuda is making “significant efforts” in combating human trafficking on its shores, a new United States report has disclosed.
The Trafficking in Persons Report released last week by the US Department of State stated: “The Government of Antigua & Barbuda does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.”
The country is currently ranked in Tier 2. This tier includes countries, which are not fully compliant with the Trafficking Victims Protection ACT (TVPA), but are making substantial efforts in attempts to comply with standards.
Caribbean countries ranked in Tier 2 include, Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.
Tier 1 includes governments that fully comply with the TVPA minimum. Tier 3 countries are those which do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are “not making significant efforts” to do so.
Although Antigua & Barbuda has consecutively been in Tier 2 since 2008, Minister of National Security, Immigration and Labour, Dr Errol Cort said he is pleased with the nation’s progress.
“I am pretty pleased with the report that came out recently … If Tier 2 was broken down into various levels, one would be able to see an upward progression in terms of the things that we would have been doing as a country within Tier 2,” Dr Cort said.
He added, “I would want to venture to say that we would be at the upper end of the Tier 2 level.”
The minister was particularly satisfied with the report’s mention that government was “proactive in identifying human trafficking, protecting victims and raising awareness about the issue,” despite what it called the country’s “limited human and financial resources.”
Over the year-long reporting period, the Antiguan government initiated new trafficking investigations and began two prosecutions, but no convictions or punishment of traffickers was handed down.
It also assisted 21 foreign victims of human trafficking by referring trafficked persons to care providers after administering needs assessments with assistance from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The report recommended that the twin island nation “vigorously prosecute, convict and punish trafficking offenders, including officials complicit in human trafficking.”
It also suggested that a centralised database to track trafficking be created.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)