Barbados
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    Profile

    Barbados

    Capital

    Bridgetown

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 5,209.00 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    287,025

    Area

    430 km²

    Geography type

    Island

    3.22

    Criminality score

    173rd of 193 countries

    32nd of 35 countries in Americas

    11th of 13 countries in Caribbean

    Criminal market

    2.55

    Human trafficking

    3.50

    Human smuggling

    2.00

    Arms trafficking

    4.00

    Flora crimes

    1.00

    Fauna crimes

    1.00

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    2.00

    Heroin trade

    1.00

    Cocaine trade

    5.50

    Cannabis trade

    4.50

    Synthetic drug trade

    1.00

    Criminal actors

    3.88

    Mafia-style groups

    5.00

    Criminal networks

    4.50

    State-embedded actors

    4.00

    Foreign actors

    2.00

    5.71

    Resilience score

    43rd of 193 countries

    7th of 35 countries in Americas

    1st of 13 countries in Caribbean

    Political leadership and governance

    5.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    7.00

    International cooperation

    7.00

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    4.50

    Law enforcement

    6.50

    Territorial integrity

    6.00

    Anti-money laundering

    5.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    3.50

    Victim and witness support

    5.50

    Prevention

    6.00

    Non-state actors

    6.00

    5.71 3.88 2.55 5.71 3.88 2.55

    5.71

    Resilience score

    43rd of 193 countries

    7th of 35 countries in Americas

    1st of 13 countries in Caribbean

    Political leadership and governance

    5.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    7.00

    International cooperation

    7.00

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    4.50

    Law enforcement

    6.50

    Territorial integrity

    6.00

    Anti-money laundering

    5.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    3.50

    Victim and witness support

    5.50

    Prevention

    6.00

    Non-state actors

    6.00

    Analysis

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    People

    Human trafficking appears to have a limited, although increasing influence on Barbados, and the island nation is both a source of and a destination for human trafficking, where predominately women and children are forced into sexual exploitation. Along with the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Jamaica, Barbados has been recognized as a top sex-tourism destination in the Caribbean. Notably, immigrants who enter the country via legitimate channels from Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana are especially vulnerable. Additionally, women who search for alternative ways to fend for themselves and their families are at risk of becoming victims of trafficking, as are men who are unemployed, or have experienced job insecurity or low wages. There is no evidence of large organized human trafficking networks operating in Barbados. A degree of organization does exist, but for the most part, one or two Guyanese or Barbadian recruiters work on their own, or on the behalf of businesses. In turn, victims have their documents withheld, experience debt bondage, restriction of movement and low wages as well as physical, verbal and psychological abuse.

    Barbados is seen as an attractive destination for migrants, which conditions the existence of a human smuggling market. Smuggling rings use the same boats that import legal commodities from neighbouring countries into Barbados, to smuggle migrants. Because of widespread poverty, the country is vulnerable to external influences. Thus, border security guards are bribed to facilitate human smuggling and allow irregular migrants into the country.

    Trade

    The increasing gang culture has fuelled a demand for firearms that are used to protect and enforce drug markets. Moreover, drugs and stolen goods are often used as a means of payment for arms and ammunition. Arguably, most illegal arms in Barbados are smuggled from the United States, where firearms are easily accessible. It is common for drug traffickers to use associates or family members in the US to purchase arms and smuggle them to Barbados using sea freight. Illegal arms also originate from neighbouring islands as well. Additionally, Barbados is a transit point for regional arms shipments. Although this is not a destabilizing factor yet, legal shipments have gone missing only to turn up in other countries, where they are used to commit crime.

    Environment

    There is no evidence to suggest that either a wildlife crimes market or a non-renewable resource crimes market exists in Barbados. Nevertheless, there are some risks related to money laundering through the purchase of precious metals and gemstones.

    Drugs

    While there have been some instances of heroin use, these have mainly been connected to tourists or migrant workers. Thus, it seems that the heroin market is either very small or non-existent. Conversely, cocaine is easily accessible in the country. At present, Barbados is a smuggling point for the Eastern Caribbean cocaine trade, and is important but not central to that route. The bulk supply of cocaine continues to move from the north coast of Venezuela via go-fast boats and increasingly from Guyana, using general cargo vessels. Barbados’s geographic location poses a logistical problem to traffickers, sitting as it does, further into the Atlantic and outside the normal range of go-fast delivery boats. Deliveries in bulk do still take place but are less common than in other Eastern Caribbean islands. Similar to other Caribbean island nations, cocaine shipments are usually smuggled into Barbados via freight carriers. The loads are for the most part small - about 100-250 kilograms - and originate in Venezuela, Guyana and Trinidad. Once the freighters are near Barbados, the cocaine shipments are offloaded to small boats and carried ashore, where the drugs are either locally distributed or smuggled by courier into larger consumer markets, such as Europe, Canada or the US. To that end, Barbadian diasporas, primarily in the UK, as well as Europe and North America, help facilitate the movement of significant quantities of cocaine. Tourism also plays an important role in cocaine trafficking: relatively wealthy visitors to Barbados keep both demand and prices high; and, allegedly, small quantities of cocaine and heroin have been smuggled on cruise ships to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. It appears state authorities are largely complicit, as criminal actors have admitted bribing customs officials, police officers, judges and politicians. Moreover, growing cocaine demand and use are the primary drivers of increasing violence in the country.

    Cannabis is grown locally, but in small quantities, mostly for personal and small-scale consumption. Therefore, St Vincent, which is a significant producer of cannabis in the region, continues to supply the bulk of marijuana to Barbados. Reportedly, local traffickers offload large shipments of 500–2000 kilograms from St Vincent delivery vessels a few miles out to sea and bring them to shore under the cover of darkness. Shipments from Jamaica are usually concealed in freight and containers. Local consumption is steady, as is consumption of cannabis by tourists, who pay inflated prices and fuel the demand. Tourists are also the primary consumers of synthetic drugs in Barbados. Despite some evidence for importation and sale of synthetic drugs, the illegal market is not of concern.

    Criminal Actors

    Mafia-style organizations, operating as gangs, have a negative influence over diverse sectors of society and their influence is increasing. There are unconfirmed reports of six major gangs in the country, their mafia-like structures constitute highly organized entities, including ‘dons’ or leaders, hit men and even legitimate businesspeople. These groups typically make use of high-powered rifles. Small gangs include between 15 to 20 people, while larger gangs have up to 50 members. Most gang members tend to be repeat offenders who form relationships while incarcerated. Gangs engage in various forms of criminality including robbery, theft, drug trafficking, firearm possession, serious bodily harm and murder, and operate without fear of prosecution. They focus on protecting their territory, using gang symbols to advertise ownership and arguably exert influence over not only communities, but political circles as well. Cross-border criminal activity tends to also involve criminal networks. The latter often maintain relationships with suppliers, transportation agents as well as buyers. Criminal networks typically engage in drug and gun trafficking but may have a stake in human trafficking and smuggling as well.

    State-embedded actors in Barbados are an issue, though now their influence appears to be limited rather than systemic. Allegedly, low-level officials take bribes to facilitate trafficking flows, but information suggests that political circles are under the influence of gang leaders. There is no evidence to suggest that foreign criminal actors operate in Barbados beyond delivering shipments of drugs to the island's territorial waters.

    Leadership and governance

    Leadership and governance exist, however both are at the initial stages of confronting organized crime. This is evident because the country is still in the process of forming a major organized crimes and anti-corruption agency, along with the implementation of the transnational organized crime act in 2011. Although corruption perceptions in the country are low by global standards, concerns among the population are emerging in light of the 2018 elections and the allegations of vote buying, apathy and lack of trust in political leaders. Partly addressing concerns, the government passed a bill in 2020, addressing glaring loopholes in the country's anti-corruption framework, including providing whistle-blower protection provisions and definitions as to what constitutes corruption.

    Barbados is party to a number of relevant international treaties and conventions pertaining to organized crime. The country is also an active and prominent participant in numerous law enforcement initiatives. It maintains excellent strategic and tactical relationships with foreign agencies, notably in the area of organized crime and drug trafficking. It continues to work closely with the UK, European countries as well as with the European Union and US agencies and engages with international partners in training initiatives and information sharing. Barbados is member to the Caribbean Community's Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS), which focuses on strengthening border controls and tackling trafficking flows. In line with its international anti-organized crime commitments, Barbados has implemented legislative reforms to bring national legislation in line with international standards. Most recently, the country made significant anti-corruption and anti-organized crime reforms by implementing the Integrity in Public Life Bill (2020) and the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Prevention Act (TIPPA).

    Criminal justice and security

    The judicial system, modelled on British Law, has become outdated, slow and cumbersome. Consequently, prosecution might take years instead of months, with very few complex cases being heard in court. Thus, drug traffickers are often bailed out or merely fined, while the low count of prosecutions and convictions for human trafficking-related offences in the country is of much concern. Barbados only has one prison, which reportedly meets international standards. The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) is well-resourced and equipped by Caribbean standards. It has a Sex Crimes and Trafficking Unit within its ranks, as well as a Drug Squad. The Barbadian coastguard also works towards countering trafficking flows, alongside the RBPF. Moreover, the government is actively working towards strengthening the police marine unit as well as the coastguard so that they continue to effectively monitor illegal drug flows at sea. Barbados has a coastal radar system that was intended to interdict drug trafficking flows. Yet, the system is not fully functional and as a result, there are significant gaps in coverage, reducing its effectiveness.

    Economic and financial environment

    Barbados is identified as having strategic anti-money laundering deficiencies, but in 2020 has made high-level commitments to enhance its anti-money laundering framework. Some progress has been made, evident in the completion of an initial risk assessment, which concluded that Barbados’ vulnerability to money laundering was related to the pervasive drug market. More comprehensive national risk assessment is being developed to better identify money laundering vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, in 2020 the country was considered by the EU as a non-cooperative jurisdiction for tax purposes. Barbados is the wealthiest economy in the eastern Caribbean as profits from tourism, light Industry, offshore finance as well as information services all make significant contributions to the country’s budget. The economic regulatory environment is moderately conducive to doing business and allegedly, the informal economy in the country is significant, amounting to 30–40% of Barbados's GDP.

    Civil society and social protection

    The government has a framework in place to provide support for trafficking victims, but there are significant weaknesses in victim and witness support. There is a formal referral mechanism for victim care, guiding the actions of both authorities and NGOs. Additionally, a Gender Affairs Bureau functions in Barbados to coordinate the victim assistance efforts of the government and civil society. There are shelters for men and women that are managed by NGOs, although lack of funding is an issue which hinders victim support. The TIPPA regulates the safeguards for identities of trafficking victims and identities of their families, along with establishing protection measures during legal proceedings. Not least of all, the Act establishes the right of victims of trafficking to pursue restitution from offenders. Prevention efforts are minimal, with the government only formally reinstating a task force on human trafficking. Prevention mostly depends on public awareness campaigns, although the lack of financing might have hindered the endeavour. No progress has been made in reducing the demand for sex services. Government prevention efforts of drug abuse, center around school awareness-raising campaigns, led by officers from the country’s drug squad and the community relations unit. There are drug rehabilitation clinics, one of which offers treatment to young adults, as well as support mechanisms provided by NGOs in the form of counselling, detoxification, education and prevention programmes. Not least of all, Barbados has a national anti-drug plan, spanning 2015-2020. Journalists are free to report on issues of organized crime and corruption as there is neither censorship, nor governmental control over the media.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.