BAHAMAS: Report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children


Below is a short summary of some of the key issues from Bahamas’ report by the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children. Read the full text. Please note that this is not an official UN summary.

The Bahamas is a transit and destination country for trafficked persons from the Caribbean region and from Central and South America. The scale of trafficking is difficult to quantify, given the limited ability to identify victims and the absence of a national survey to assess the scope and trend of the phenomenon in the country. The form of trafficking that has been identified in the Bahamas is for commercial sexual exploitation, although labour exploitation is thought to be occurring in the construction, agriculture, fishing and domestic work sectors.

Despite the positive steps taken by the Government, the Special Rapporteur observed a number of challenges, including: the absence of a comprehensive assessment of the phenomenon at the national level, coupled with low awareness and understanding of trafficking in persons among the general population; the absence of a national plan of action to effectively combat trafficking in persons; and the restrictive immigration policy, which leads to the criminalization and expedited deportations of potential victims. She further expressed concern with regard to the limited capacities of frontline officers in identifying victims of trafficking, and underlines the weakness of the victims’ assistance programme, which is ad hoc rather than institutionalized.

At the international level, the Bahamas is not a party to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons or the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. In many cases, children born of undocumented Haitian migrants in the Bahamas are reported to reach the age of majority without ever being registered or able to receive residency or citizenship in the Bahamas. These children are de facto at risk of statelessness, making them even more vulnerable to exploitation.

Although little information on child trafficking was available, according to discussions held with civil society interlocutors it appears that Haitian children working as domestic servants are vulnerable to exploitative work conditions. With regard to the exploitation of children for sexual tourism, mention was made of potential cases of sexual exploitation of teenage girls by “boyfriends” acting as pimps. The Special Rapporteur also noted with deep concern that children have been detained with their mothers for lack of alternative facilities and measures to cater to this population of undocumented migrants and in violation of all relevant international human rights and humanitarian norms. This is all the more alarming since, according to IOM, the majority of persons entering the Bahamas are Haitian children under the age of 14. Moreover, the Inter-Ministry Committee underlined that the Bahamas was facing a growing issue of migrant child labour, especially in tourist areas, where children brought from Central America by organized networks are made to sell goods.

The Special Rapporteur recommends that, with respect to the international framework, the Government ratifies the Option Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the ILO Convention No. 189 (2011) concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The Government is also encouraged to establish bilateral and multilateral agreements with countries of origin and countries of destination and to develop and review existing safe migration pathways for seasonal and temporary workers.

With respect to the national framework, the Special Rapporteur recommends that the Government carry out a national baseline study to document the scope and trends of trafficking at the national level, finalise and rapidly adopt the national action plan to combat human trafficking based on a human rights and victim-centred approach, establish a systematized and harmonized data collection system on human trafficking, create an office of an independent national rapporteur to implement, monitor and evaluate activities aimed at combating human trafficking and amend legislation to provide more protection for domestic workers in line with international legal standards.

The Special Rapporteur also recommends that the Government hone identification, training and capacity-building efforts and expands support services for victims of trafficking and protection. With respect to prosecution, the Government is encouraged to improve the justice delivery system to quicken adjudication of cases of trafficking while guaranteeing fair-trial rights consistent with a human rights-based approach to criminal justice responses and to ensure victim/witness protection before, during and after trail to avoid reprisal. With respect to prevention, the Special Rapporteur recommends that the Government steps up efforts to raise awareness about all forms of trafficking in persons, including for domestic servitude, forced labour and sexual exploitation, in order to promote understanding of what constitutes trafficking among the general population and the foreign community.



Please note that these reports were submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. They are hosted by Child Rights Connect and CRIN and the author's permission has been obtained for all reports listed. However, unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of either organisation and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by Child Rights Connect or CRIN.