Byline: Nelson King
WASHINGTON -- As far as the United States is concerned, the Caribbean still has a long way to go in dealing with trafficking in persons (TIP).
According to the 2014 TIP report released by the US Department of State on Friday, at least seven Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries - Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname - continue to be placed on the Tier 2 Watch List, because of the failure of the governments to fully comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Acts (TVPA).
But while Washington said they were making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards, the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking on that list is "very significant or is significantly increasing".
The State Department said on the Tier 2 Watch List, there is also a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year in these countries.
It said the determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with minimum standards, in the Tier 2 Watch List category, was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.
The Bahamas, Barbados, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago have now been added to the Tier 2 List with no CARICOM country being placed on the Tier 1 and Tier 3 Lists.
Washington said Tier 1 List countries fully comply with the TVPA minimum standards; while, those on Tier 3, do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.
Grenada, Dominica and St. Kitts and Nevis were omitted from the report altogether.
The report said that Antigua and Barbuda is a destination and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.
It said legal and undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean region, notably from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, as well as from Southeast Asia, comprise the population most vulnerable to trafficking.
Despite measures in addressing trafficking in persons, the State Department said the Antiguan government "did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period.
"For a second year, the government did not remedy a flaw in its human trafficking law affecting which court has jurisdiction over trafficking cases," it said.
The report described Belize as a source, destination and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.
It said a common form of human trafficking in Belize is the coerced prostitution of children, often occurring through parents pushing their children to provide sexual favors to older men in exchange for school fees, money and gifts, adding that "third-party prostitution" of children under 18 is a form of human trafficking.
The State Department said child sex tourism, involving primarily US citizens, is an "emerging trend" in Belize.