The Government has established a shelter for the care and protection of victims of human trafficking, as part of initiatives to address issues relating to the crime in Jamaica.
The shelter, which has been operational since March 2013, can hold up to 10 persons and has been refurbished and furnished at a cost of approximately $3.2 million. The National Task Force Against Trafficking In Persons (NATFATIP) is also seeking to identify other emergency locations in the event of cases involving large number of persons.
Addressing a press conference on the Jamaica Trafficking in Persons Report 2012-2013 today (June 20), Chairman ofthe National Task Force Against Trafficking In Personsand Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, noted that the shelter was another critical evaluation point for the government.
Mrs. Palmer also informed that there are victims who are currently using the shelter.
The Permanent Secretary pointed out that a significant amount of work has been done over the past year to address human trafficking.
“We are fully energized to take on this crime frontally and we are aiming for everyone on our shores, be you Jamaican or whatever nationality, to be secure from this crime, because all perpetrators of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) must know that we are coming after you,” she said.
Between April 2012 and March 2013, the police conducted some 213 raids in establishments across the island and 23 human trafficking victims were rescued. There have been seven TIP investigations launched and four arrests made up to March 2013.
Mrs. Palmer highlighted a number of cases where persons have been arrested for child trafficking and trafficking in persons, which are now before the courts. In one case of child trafficking, the preliminary hearing for the matter was held on April 11, 2013.
She also related a case where a group of 21 male children were rescued from a Honduran fishing vessel intercepted in Jamaican coastal waters by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). It was discovered that the children were at risk as they had no identification papers. Through the efforts of OCID and the DPP’s office, the investigations proved there was human trafficking taking place in at least four of the children who were able to give statements.
A report was prepared and submitted to the relevant authorities and the children were given assistance by the government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Justice. They were provided with alternative shelter and meals at a cost of approximately $1 million. The victims were also offered counselling and medical relief and support through the Victim Support Unit of the Ministry of Health.
She further informed that the public education efforts have been significantly revved up to increase public awareness of the crime.
CONTACT: ANDREA BRAHAM