The National Taskforce against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP) was established in June 2005 as a multi agency approach to enhance national capacity and to develop and implement Jamaica’s legislative, institutional and operational response for combating Trafficking in Persons. NATFATIP’s core emphases are the prevention and suppression of Trafficking in Persons; the prosecution of offenders; as well as the protection and provision of assistance to victims of trafficking.
The Taskforce operates under the oversight and direction of the Public Order Committee of Cabinet which is chaired by the Minister of National Security.
In keeping with domestic legislation- the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) Act, 2007- trafficking in persons is defined by three criteria:
The Taskforce was established under the chairmanship of Mrs. Carol Palmer, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice from 2005 to 2008. Subsequent to this, the chairmanship of the Taskforce was held under several Permanent Secretaries under the Ministry of National Security from 2008 to 2012. In late 2012, Mrs. Carol Palmer, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice resumed Chairmanship of the Taskforce.
NATFATIP is mandated in the following areas:
The National Taskforce is comprised of representatives of the following Ministries, Agencies, and Organisations:
The NATFATIP is organised in three subcommittees. These are Protection, Prevention/Public Education and Prosecution. The work of the taskforce is driven by these Sub-Committees through their implementation of the Government of Jamaica’s National Plan of Action for Combating Trafficking in Persons, 2012- 2013.
The National Plan of Action for combating Trafficking in Persons in Jamaica was approved by the Cabinet in December 2012. The Plan of Action constitutes a robust approach to dealing with Human Trafficking and is organised under three areas, consistent with the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment Act, 2007). These areas are Prevention, Protection and Prosecution.
The Government of Jamaica is a signatory to and has ratified the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2002, which declares that State Parties “shall endeavor to undertake measures such, including bilateral or multilateral cooperation, to alleviate the factors that make persons, especially women and children, vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, underdevelopment, and lack of opportunity”. The Protocol was signed 13 February 2002 and ratified 29 September 2003.
In keeping with its international obligation; the acknowledged pervasive and exploitive nature of human trafficking; and the recognized need to protect its citizenry, especially those amongst vulnerable populations, the Government of Jamaica enacted the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression, and Punishment) Act, 2007. This is the main piece of legislation used to prosecute the offence of trafficking in persons; however, other supportive legislations are used in that regard. They are:
Several mentionable achievements of the Taskforce since its establishment are:
For the Period 2012 to 2013 two hundred and thirteen raids were conducted, up from 32 in 2011 and 10 in 2010. Two Hundred and four (224) persons have been interviewed by the JCF TIP Unit in relation to human trafficking in 2012. Three (3) TIP cases were suspected with 23 victims being rescued. Seven TIP investigations were launched. Four (4) arrests were made up to March 2013.
In one case of child trafficking two (2) individuals were arrested. The first individual was arrested and charged for child trafficking offences contrary to section 10 (1) of the Child Care and Protection Act. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting this matter. The second individual involved was arrested and subsequently charged for one (1) count of carnal abuse contrary the Offences Against the Persons Act, and one (1) count of facilitating the trafficking of a child contrary to section 10 (1) of the Child Care and Protection Act. The preliminary hearing for the matter was held on April 11, 2013.
Three (3) additional suspected cases of trafficking have been identified since April 2013. These are presently being investigated. In one of the cases; two persons have been arrested and positively identified and the matter is before the court. Two new victims have been rescued since April 2013. The JCF TIP Unit has also collaborated with the police officers from the Bahamas. That joint investigation led to TIP charges in Bahamas.
Though fully compliant with international best practices, standards, conventions and instruments amendments to the Trafficking in Persons Act have been drafted with the bill tabled in the House of Representative. In bolstering the legislative framework to fight human trafficking amendments to the Act include, inter alia—
In December 2012, Jamaica provided care and shelter for a group of twenty-one (21) Honduran children on board a Honduran fishing vessel intercepted by the JDF in Jamaican Coastal waters. The Ministry of Justice provided alternative shelter accommodation and meals for the children at a cost of JMD $1,029,383.57 along with counselling and medical relief and support through the Victim Support Unit and the Ministry of Health.
The Government of Jamaica in fulfilment of its commitment to establish and have operational a TIP shelter for the care and protection of trafficked victims has identified, refurbished and furnished one premise to be used as a TIP shelter. The shelter has been refurbished and furnished and as at March 2013 is fully operational and ready to house up to ten (10) victims of human trafficking. This has been undertaken at an overall cost of JMD $3,207,171.51. The NATFATIP is also seeking to identify other emergency locations in the event of cases involving large numbers of persons.
In increasing further protection against human trafficking, the Protection Subcommittee in collaboration with the Prosecution Subcommittee has designed a Technical Skills Training Seminar on Human Trafficking for Key Stakeholders. Numerous trainings have been conducted for relevant organization including the PICA, the JCF OCID, CISOCA, CDA, OCA and the OCR.
In March 2013, approximately 50 persons from agencies such as PICA, CISOCA, JCF, Office of the Children’s Advocate, Ministries of National Security, Justice and Labour and Social Security participated in the USA Department of Homeland Security training on TIP/Child Exploitation/Forced Child Labour focussed on sharing best practices related to investigation, prosecution, and victim identification and assistance.
In seeking to improve coordination between Caribbean countries in relation to trafficking in person, a delegation from the Taskforce to include the ODPP, Victim Support Unit, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, participated in a five country (Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago) coordination meeting hosted by the International Organization for Migration in January 2013. The seminar presented a critical opportunity for the gaining of knowledge and capacity building in the area of screening methodology, data collection, sharing methodology and the acquisition of desired data.
A Memorandum of Understanding is currently being developed, with necessary consultations from key stakeholders, aimed at establishing a standard protocol to govern TIP data collection and information sharing among key stakeholders such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), CDA, Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) and the Sex Offenders’ Registry.
Ministry of Labour and Social Security also launched the Tackling Child Labour through Education (TACKLE) Project Jamaica with support from the ACP EU. Under this project it undertook the following activities to combat Child Labour in Jamaica:
Recognizing that a targeted, well sustained public education campaign is a critical component in preventing and protecting those most vulnerable amongst the population from human trafficking, especially women and children, the National Task Force against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Justice, has embarked on the revitalization of its public education programme with the overall objective to build on past successes and raise greater awareness.
Towards this end several public awareness/prevention activities for the period April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 were held. They included:
A number of activities have been planned for the financial year 2013 to 2014. Some of these include—