The failure of the Government of Jamaica to adequately combat the issue of Child Sex Tourism in Jamaica’s resort areas, is one of the numerous reasons given by the US Department of State for the island’s Tier Two ranking in the global 2019 Trafficking in Persons report.
According to the report which was published recently, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other local observers continue to report that child sex tourism is a problem in Jamaica’s resort areas which include Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and Kingston.
The Department of State said the Andrew Holness-led Government must increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict foreign tourists and Jamaicans who purchase commercial sex acts from child trafficking victims.
“The Government of Jamaica does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking…,” the report noted.
“The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of foreign tourists for the purchase of commercial sex acts from child trafficking victims. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor,” the US Department of State said.
The organization also said the Jamaican Government maintained “weak efforts to protect victims”.
“While it increased funding for victim services, it identified a small number of victims, and identified victims received minimal services before authorities returned them to their homes,” it noted.
“Increased funding did not result in improved protections for victims or increased accountability for traffickers. The government identified fewer victims compared to the previous year; it provided minimal services to identified victims and did not refer any Jamaican victims to shelters; and it convicted only one trafficker,” the report said.
The report, which tracks level of trafficking in countries across the world, said over the past five years, human traffickers have exploited domestic and foreign victims in Jamaica and that and traffickers exploit victims from Jamaica abroad.
Despite Jamaica’s many shortcomings, Department noted that the Government has made a number of strides, including the completion of a national anti-trafficking policy, and cooperation with foreign authorities to monitor foreign registered sex offenders attempting to travel to Jamaica, and preventing their entry into the country.
In providing a breakdown of instances and places where trafficking is rampant, the department said sex trafficking of Jamaican women and children, including boys, reportedly occurs on streets and in nightclubs, bars, massage parlors, hotels, and private homes, including in resort towns.
“Traffickers increasingly use social media platforms to recruit victims. Communities vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor include young women and children from poor households, child victims of sexual abuse, residents of Jamaica’s poverty-stricken areas effectively controlled by criminal “dons,” migrant workers, and workers in the informal sector, particularly on family farms and in markets and shops,” the organization said.