The Government of The Bahamas fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore, The Bahamas remained on Tier 1. These efforts included:
- Convicting a trafficker
- Providing support for victims repatriated abroad
- Making efforts to provide compensation to a victim
- Increasing funding for victim services, and
- Coordinating with governments in the region on a virtual forum to share challenges and best practices on prosecuting trafficking and improving interagency collaboration
Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not initiate any new prosecutions, identified fewer victims, and did not comprehensively implement its victim identification protocol, especially among at-risk groups including Haitian migrants.
Read the full report at https://www.state.gov/reports/2022-trafficking-in-persons-report/
- Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including officials complicit in sex or labor trafficking, and impose sufficient sentences.
- Improve efforts to identify victims and refer them to services, particularly among vulnerable groups, including underserved stateless persons, migrants and asylum-seekers from Haiti and Venezuela, LGBTQI+ individuals, and Cuban nationals working on government-sponsored programs.
- Reduce delays in court proceedings.
- Train labor inspectors on trafficking, victim identification, and referral to services.
- Raise awareness of trafficking risks among vulnerable groups in partnership with NGOs and provide migrants with information on trafficking and workers’ rights.
- Remove a requirement for migrants switching jobs to obtain a letter of release from their employer.
- Take steps to eliminate recruitment fees charged to workers by labor recruiters and ban employee-paid recruitment fees.
- Provide a dedicated shelter for trafficking victims.
- Improve regular data collection and record keeping, including prosecution statistics.
- Provide victims an alternative to speaking with law enforcement.
- Provide vulnerable individuals with trauma-informed assistance and interpretation in their language prior to, during, and after screening for trafficking, including through the hotline.
- Develop, execute, and publish a robust monitoring and evaluation framework for anti-trafficking policies and efforts.
- Provide survivors who have returned home the opportunity to give input on policies.
As reported over the past five years, traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in The Bahamas, and traffickers exploit victims from The Bahamas abroad. Traffickers recruit migrant workers, especially those from Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Costa Rica, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, the Philippines, and the United States through false offers of employment, through advertisements in foreign newspapers and social media; upon arrival, traffickers subject them to sex trafficking and forced labor, including in domestic service and in sectors with low-skilled labor.
The profile of prosecuted traffickers has been primarily female in the past five years. Individuals born to a non-Bahamian father in The Bahamas, to a female citizen, or to foreign born parents do not automatically receive Bahamian citizenship or documentation and are at heightened risk of trafficking. Unaccompanied migrant children, individuals lured for employment, those involved in commercial sex and exotic dancing, irregular migrants, stateless persons, LGBTQI+ individuals (particularly from poor communities), and migrants displaced by Hurricane Dorian have been trafficking victims or are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. In particular, irregular migrants living in informal settlements on the Hurricane Dorian-ravaged islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, as well as those who fled to New Providence after the storm, exist in what observers call “dark spaces,” which deter reporting abuse.
In January 2022, the government signed an official agreement with the Cuban government to temporarily host 50 nurses to provide medical care during the pandemic. Cuban medical professionals may have been forced to work by the Cuban government. The high unemployment rate – reported to have exceeded 40 percent – resulting from the pandemic may have increased vulnerabilities for potential victims.