Mrs. Carol Palmer, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Carol Palmer wants to see more Jamaicans particularly those from the religious community getting more involved in addressing cases of violence and to report crime. She was speaking to worshippers at the Seventh-day Adventists’ Enditnow Women’s and Girls of Eloquence Morals and Standards (GEMS) Convention held at the West Jamaica Conference Centre in Montego Bay on August 27.
“Far too long in this country, we have remained quiet and allow criminals to take charge”, said Mrs. Palmer. “When are we going to rise up and take back our society from evil men? It is not enough to just come to church on Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, whichever day it is then you go home and lock that grill, and you think you are safe. But are you? They can tear down that grill; they can disarm the security system. We are living with a false sense of security.”
“By breaking the silence you can stop violence and I believe that with all my heart. That’s why I am driving this fight as long as the government will permit me.”
Mrs. Palmer further gave insightful facts to the over 1,000 attendees that Human Trafficking, a modern day slavery, is a world-wide criminal activity. She informed that there was an estimated 5,800 persons in some type of slavery representing a 0.2% of the Jamaican population. In addition, the Global Slavery Index estimates that there are 45.8 million people in some form of modern slavery. Hence it is the largest criminal industry (behind illegal guns and arms trafficking).
“Ladies and gentlemen, if you were to meet one victim of Human Trafficking, I think it would be difficult for you not to have compassion.... We need to open our hearts in helping those who have suffered abuse of any kind, whether it is perpetrated against women, men, girls or boys, it is evil. Don’t be quiet about this... Let us stop this epidemic now!”
She said that Human Trafficking not only comes under the guise of the drug trade and prostitution, “think also about the children at the traffic intersection. That is now termed as debt bondage, because what we have learnt under investigation is that the children have a quota for the day that they must fill. Whatever that quota is, they must bring home that money for the day and whenever they don’t, or whatever the shortfall, it is added to tomorrow’s quota.”
She urged parents to take care of their children and to supervise their activities on social media.
The programme continued with an afternoon session with Deputy Superintendent of Police, Carl Berry who spoke about Human Trafficking and shared case studies with the membership.
“I didn’t know that in Jamaica such a thing as Human Trafficking was happening,” said Sherille Gooden from Salt Spring, St. James. “I didn’t even understand that some of the cases shared were actually Human Trafficking. The presentations made it so clear to me and I now understand what it is all about. I will do my part to stop it.”
Mrs. Lorraine Vernal, Director of Children, Adolescents, Family and Women’s Ministries at the Jamaica Union Conference and main coordinator of the programme said, “The event was a success and we have met our objectives to sensitize the membership about the importance of not only being members, but seeing the realities of atrocities, particularly as they relate to Human Trafficking right here in our society. Now we can look at how we can help others, by making a difference in our communities.”