JIS News

Minister of National Security, Dr. Peter Phillips , has called on Jamaicans, to place focus on protecting the family unit, as the government continued to bring awareness to and fight against the increasingly dangerous phenomena of human trafficking.
Speaking at a public forum entitled: ‘Trafficking in Persons- Get Slick, Don’t Get Tricked’ at Emancipation Park yesterday (August 30), Minister Phillips noted the effect the practice could have on displacing families and urged Jamaicans to support each other, so that less persons would fall prey to traffickers.
“We need to focus on the basis of family at the centre of our preoccupations. We need to make deliberate attempts to put family life front and centre of our agenda,” he urged.
The forum was the first in a series geared towards increasing public awareness of the grave threats human trafficking presented to Jamaicans, especially women and children.
He acknowledged, that while not enough was known about the scope of trafficking in Jamaica, “we intend to study the situation, so that we can adequately address the forms of trafficking that are relevant.”
Continuing, Dr. Phillips added, “Jamaica has pledged to protect its citizens against such practices. We made this commitment when we signed the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized crime”.
Underscoring the government’s commitment to fighting this form of “modern day slavery” Dr. Phillips informed that a multisectoral approach was being taken in the process.
Among them was the institution of a task force with a mandate to take steps to measure, monitor and report on issues of trafficking. The work of the body will be supported by a grant from the International Development Bank (IDB).
In addition, the Attorney General’s office will be reviewing legislation to determine the current provisions for the prosecution of offenders. Provisions currently exist under the Offences Against the Peoples Act, the Child Care and Protection Act, the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizen’s (Employment) Act as well as the Recruitment of Workers Act.
In his remarks, Thomas Tighe, Charge d’Affaires at the United States Embassy, noted the US government had committed to assisting Jamaica and the wider region, and urged Jamaicans to become aware of human trafficking and the global effort that was needed to fight against the new phenomena.
“This is a form of slavery that is affecting countries across the world, but it also involves internal trafficking from rural to urban areas, which is another element that needs to be recognized,” Mr. Tighe noted.
Meanwhile, the public education programme will be accelerated within the next nine months, with a number of workshops to be held in schools and communities. There will also be training programmes for the police, health workers, teachers, and guidance counsellors.
Human trafficking has been defined as the use of force, coercion, deception or fraud to recruit, transport or receive persons. It is the abuse of power over the vulnerable for the purpose of exploitation. The different forms of the practice include domestic servitude, forced labour and sexual slavery through means such as prostitution, exotic dancing, striptease and mining camps.
It is estimated that some 50,000 women and children are trafficked to the United States annually.