Olivia Rose (Turks and Caicos Weekly News) recently underlined that the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) government has remained silent on the issue of sex trafficking, although the US State Department 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report has pinpointed the country for the third consecutive year as a destination for sex trafficking. She stresses that migrants from Haiti, Dominican Republic and Jamaica—especially stateless children and adolescents—are particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor:
According to the US State Department 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, men, women, and children are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour in the territory. It further highlighted “the absence of specific legislation criminalising trafficking as defined by the 2000 UN TIP protocol; the absence of victim identification, screening, and protection procedures; and limited awareness of human trafficking on the part of officials and the public continue to hinder anti-trafficking efforts”.
It noted that a large population of migrants from Haiti, Dominican Republic and Jamaica are particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labour, with stateless children and adolescents especially at risk.
The report said: “Local stakeholders, including law enforcement officials, have reported specific knowledge of sex trafficking occurring in bars and brothels and noted trafficking-related complicity by some local government officials was a problem.”
In December 2015, the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force received the green light to be more proactive in tackling human trafficking. The Trafficking in Person’s Prevention Bill 2015 was then passed in the House of Assembly on January 27. The bill will see penalties of unlimited fines being imposed or a term of imprisonment for a maximum of ten years being levied against those found guilty of offences under the bill. Former Minister of Border Control and Labour, Ricardo Don Hue Gardiner said that the bill will clamp down on prostitution and trafficking. He explained that it included “servitude, sexual explicit conduct, slavery, trafficked persons in particular, sexual exploitation which means compelling the participation of the person in prostitution. “The production of child pornography or other pornographic material or any other sexual activity as a result of them being subjected to threat, coercion and abduction as a result of narcotic drugs, force, and abuse of authority or fraud.”
Addressing a similar report as Leader of the Opposition back in 2016, Sharlene Cartwright Robinson said that the US State Department’s report on sex trafficking had negative implications on the country’s reputation. At that time, she accused the Progressive National Party (PNP) Government of failing to address reports of prostitution in the TCI. She cited the increasing reports of women being brought into the TCI under false pretences. Cartwright Robinson said that prostitution in the TCI is a sore issue which the Government seemingly turned a blind eye to. “There are women who are being forced into it, and we want to pretend as if it’s not happening, but it is our responsibility to protect women, children and Turks and Caicos islanders.” [. . .]