The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has still not met the standards to eliminate human trafficking.
This is based on the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, which was released on Thursday, listing the country under Tier 2 status.
The report, which is carried out by the US State Department, stated that Antigua and Barbuda “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”
However, the body added that the country has been “making significant efforts” to get up to par.
According to the report, the government has shown increased efforts overall in comparison to previous years, thus allowing the country to retain its Tier 2 status.
“These efforts included amending the trafficking law so that penalties are commensurate with penalties of other serious crimes, passing a national action plan for 2019 to 2021 and drafting formal standard operating procedures on victim referral specific to each agency,” the State Department said.
The body also mentioned the country’s increased training on indicators of trafficking and liaising with another government on trafficking investigations.
However, according to the report, the government failed to meet the minimum standards in numerous key areas.
“The government did not initiate any prosecutions and identified fewer victims,” the department outlined. “To date, the government has failed to convict a trafficker, and did not report the decision on penalties for complicit police officers in a 2015 case during the reporting period.
“As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Antigua and Barbuda, and traffickers exploit victims from Antigua and Barbuda abroad,” the US Department said.
Among recommendations by the US State Department to increase the countries ranking to Tier 1 include country vigorously investigate, prosecute, convict and punish traffickers, including complicit officials; increase efforts to identify victims through proactive screening of vulnerable populations, such as migrants and individuals in commercial sex and to provide adequate funding to implement the national action plan across all agencies.
Antigua and Barbuda was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List status in 2014, but was elevated to Tier 2 status again in 2018.
In the four-tier system, countries with sufficient elimination strategies get a ranking of Tier 1, while those lacking are ranked Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, and Tier 3, in descending order.