UNITED Nations Resident Co-ordinator Bruno Pouezat has commended the Government of Jamaica for its efforts to combat human trafficking within the country.
“At the national level, the Government of Jamaica should be congratulated on its own efforts through interventions by the Ministry of Justice, the National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons, other Government entities, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders. The national system to combat trafficking in persons is improving,” the UN official stated.
Pouezat, who is also the United Nations Development Programme resident representative, was speaking recently at the launch of the Trafficking in Persons Study and Database Film premiere at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston.
The event was attended by critical stakeholders in the anti-trafficking in persons national taskforce, including Justice Minister Delroy Chuck and state minister for national security Senator Pearnel Charles Jr.
Pouezat noted that the 2016 United States Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report has upgraded Jamaica to Tier 2 on the watch list in recognition of the Jamaican Government’s increased efforts to investigate, prosecute and convict traffickers. Common trafficking offences in Jamaica include sex trafficking and forced labour overseas of adults and children.
Jamaica also achieved a historic milestone in anti-trafficking in persons efforts in the appointment of its first national rapporteur on trafficking in persons.
A Tier 2 ranking indicates that the country is making important strides in tackling human trafficking and is well on its way to full compliance with international human trafficking laws and standards.
Among the initiatives employed locally to combat trafficking in persons are public awareness campaigns, training of police officers, judges, magistrates, and diplomats, and sensitisation directed at migrant farm workers and tourism industry stakeholders.
In his remarks, the justice minister reiterated the Government’s commitment to combatting human trafficking.
“We want to fulfil the mandate of ensuring that persons who engage in trafficking meet their justice. We have been successful in at least three cases so far, which will ensure that the signal is sent that human trafficking is a crime. The Ministry of Justice will be even more vigilant in ensuring that we remove this scourge of human trafficking in Jamaica,” Chuck said.
Jamaica has recorded significant achievements in its efforts to combat the phenomena through the development of a robust trafficking in persons system.
To date, the country has secured four convictions through human trafficking legislation. Additional achievements include the establishment of specialised units within the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the development of victim management guidelines, along with a victim protection protocol to guide officials in treating with victims of trafficking.
Other developments include the formulation of a memorandum of understanding to facilitate data sharing and standard operating procedures to guide the police, health officials and other critical first responders.
Published in the Jamaica Observer, Monday, August 8, 2016