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JIS News

The Child Development Agency (CDA) has launched a new toll free telephone line dedicated to handling cases of human trafficking, particularly as it relates to children. The number is 1-888-PROTECT or 1-888-776-8328.
“The CDA, as a part of our own mandate and as a part of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), has now established a toll-free line that can be used to make arrangements to help people who have been trafficked, and to [facilitate persons] who need to call in to give us information,” Director of Policy Planning and Evaluation at the CDA, Audrey Budhi, told JIS News.
Human trafficking, often referred to as trafficking in persons, constituted a major human rights violation and was one of the “most lucrative and fastest growing transnational crimes,” Miss Budhi pointed out.
According to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, it is the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons… by improper means, such as force, abduction, fraud or coercion, for an improper purpose, like forced or coerced labour, servitude, slavery or sexual exploitation”.
Miss Budhi said that while the country has been identified as a source for men, women and children trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation and labour, “we do not know the scope and the extent of human trafficking in Jamaica”.
“There have been cases locally, where children and adults have been solicited from their homes and families with empty promises for a better life, and an escape from hunger and inadequate shelter and accommodation, and have been forced to live under adverse circumstances,” she noted.
With the introduction of the toll free line, 1-888- PROTECT, it is expected that persons who have been victims of trafficking will be able to access support easily, and that persons with information will lodge reports, which will help to alleviate the problem.
It will also be a means of collecting data on the scope and nature of the practice of human trafficking in Jamaica. The line is currently accessible between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. daily.
The operation of this dedicated line will be different from anything the CDA has done in the past, as it is an intake agency. Consequently, explained Miss Budhi, the CDA was organising special training sessions in the month of January, for the persons who would man the line.
She said that during the training period, the assistance of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the Victim Support Unit and persons from the Attorney General’s Chambers would be requested to guide personnel on the types of questions to be asked, and how they should deal with the issues that might surface in the day- to-day operation of the line.
“We will also be having a public awareness and information sensitization programme, so that persons can know the number and the methods of contact,” Miss Budhi informed. “We really want the public to be made aware that this is in place.that they will be able to call these lines,” she added.
Meanwhile, when the Children’s Registry becomes a reality early this year, the toll free line will complement its functions. The establishment of the Registry is provided for under the Child Care and Protection Act, which speaks to mandatory reporting of all types and cases of child abuse, whether there is a perceived risk to a child, or if the action is already happening.
Describing the function of the Registry, Miss Budhi said it would be the first point of contact and the place where all cases of child abuse would be reported. “It will also be a storehouse where they will receive, assess and refer cases to different organisations, as well as the database for information regarding child abuse in Jamaica,” she added.
Emphasising the responsibility of adults to prevent offences against children, Miss Budhi issued an appeal for members of the public to report child abuse. “If you see it, report it. You need to report abuse in any form or shape,” she urged.