Strengthened Commitment to Un Palermo Protocol Against Human Trafficking Urged

Story Highlights

  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, is calling for strengthening of Jamaica’s commitment to the United Nations (UN) Palermo Protocol, which urges signatories to prevent and suppress the incidence of human trafficking.
  • Mrs. Palmer, who acknowledged the need for increased prosecution of human trafficking offenders, noted the progress being made to this end through modernization of the judicial system.
  • This ranking is accorded to countries whose governments are not fully compliant with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves in line with those benchmarks.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, is calling for strengthening of Jamaica’s commitment to the United Nations (UN) Palermo Protocol, which urges signatories to prevent and suppress the incidence of human trafficking.

She said Government agencies must avoid complacency and redouble their efforts, in keeping with the Protocol’s requirements, to ensure Jamaica achieves Tier 1 classification in the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.

Among the Protocol’s provisions are guidelines for the protection and support of victims, particularly women and children. It also provides a framework to bring the Government of Jamaica in compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of the United States and its international obligations.

Mrs. Palmer, who heads the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), said the relevant local authorities must endeavour to vigorously prosecute, convict and punish traffickers, irrespective of who they are.

“Government-wide standard operations must be developed and we must seek to identify and assist all victims of trafficking. We need ‘whole-of-Government’ sustained actions that will lead to the proactive identification of local as well as foreign victims of human trafficking, including those who are victims of forced labour and sexual trafficking,” she said.

The Permanent Secretary was addressing a graduation ceremony on June 30 for local and regional law enforcement officials who completed a Trafficking in Persons course at the Caribbean Regional Drug Law Enforcement Training Centre in Twickenham Park, St. Catherine.

Mrs. Palmer, who acknowledged the need for increased prosecution of human trafficking offenders, noted the progress being made to this end through modernization of the judicial system.

“But those efforts must be complemented by improved investigative work, evidence collection techniques, undercover investigations and effective surveillance to legally get to a successful prosecution,” she contended.

As such, the Permanent Secretary urged the graduates to recommit themselves to vigorous investigations of all suspects, including state and law enforcement officials.

“Accountability and prosecution send a strong deterrent to other persons who might want to compromise themselves. Law enforcement must do their jobs without fear or favor, build trust… and encourage victims to participate in the process to ensure a successful conviction,” she said.

Mrs. Palmer said NATFATIP will this year push for the publishing of a Standard Victims Protocol and will engage the National Rapporteur on the publication of an annual report.

The National Rapporteur, adopted by Jamaica in 2005, is an independent Commission of Parliament. It is mandated to investigate reports of human trafficking and reports on the violation of victims’ rights, and submit annual reports to the Parliament.

This responsibility is pivotal to Jamaica’s obligation to combat human trafficking and has implications for the country’s classification in the TIP report, Mrs. Palmer noted.

“While a whole-of-Government effort is an absolute imperative, a ‘whole-of-country’ stance against human trafficking is absolutely fundamental to the eradication of this most heinous crime. Government and the police cannot do it on their own,” she said.

The 2017 TIP Report, released on June 27, has documented Jamaica’s maintenance of its Tier 2 Ranking.

This ranking is accorded to countries whose governments are not fully compliant with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves in line with those benchmarks.

Tier 1-ranked countries are fully compliant with the TVPA’s minimum standards.

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