Jamaica News: Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, has come out in defense of Jamaica in light of concerns raised by the US Department of State in its global 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report about child sex tourism being prevalent in Jamaica’s resort areas.
According to Mr. Bartlett, the revelations in the report are perturbing especially in light of the fact the recently-concluded Security Audit of the tourism industry is in stark contrast to the sex-tourism elements outlined in the Trafficking in Persons document.
“We are concerned about the report especially due to the fact that we have just concluded an extensive security audit of the industry overall. The preliminary indications doesn’t substantiate any prevalence of child pornography or child sexual abuse in the industry. The point, however, is to not say that an incident or two may not exist. But certainly, it would not have elevated itself to a position where the country is characterized in a particular way,” Mr. Bartlett told the media this morning.
In the report, the US State Department had implied that the failure of the Government of Jamaica to adequately combat the issue of Child Sex Tourism in Jamaica’s resort areas, was among the factors leading to the island’s Tier Two ranking in the global 2019 Trafficking in Persons report. It also said the Government of Jamaica does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
The report had noted that 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 and that 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.
But in defense of the country, Mr. Bartlett said the Government will continue to exert zero tolerance for any behavior which is harmful to the island’s children.
“Equally the prescriptions coming from the audit are going to be very strong and we are going to be very intolerant of this and other types of behavior. Because particularly, we are concerned about ethical standards in this industry,” Mr. Bartlett said.
In the five-page report, the US Department of State, highlighted what it said was the failure of the Jamaican government to not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of foreign tourists for the purchase of commercial sex acts from child trafficking victims during the reporting period. It also said the Government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor and maintained “weak efforts to protect victims”.
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.