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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Several human trafficking cases are to go before the courts over the next few months, as the Government seeks to secure more convictions against perpetrators of the crime.
  • Chairperson for the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), Carol Palmer, who made the disclosure to JIS News, said the Government intends to deal harshly with persons engaged in human trafficking.
  • Mrs. Palmer further informed that research is underway to identify hotspots for human trafficking.

Several human trafficking cases are to go before the courts over the next few months, as the Government seeks to secure more convictions against perpetrators of the crime.

Chairperson for the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), Carol Palmer, who made the disclosure to JIS News, said the Government intends to deal harshly with persons engaged in human trafficking.

She said that the country’s first conviction for human trafficking last month, after intense investigations, serves as a signal that law enforcement will be going after all perpetrators.

“The task force is coming and we will stop at nothing. The police are determined and are going after every case,” she told JIS News.

Mrs. Palmer said the conviction is a “signal achievement for the nation” and applauded the efforts of the police and the prosecutors.

She said the task force continues to focus on measures to prevent and combat human trafficking including carrying out public education campaigns.

“We have to ensure that the population is educated and that we are making the information we have available to citizens so they can make intelligent choices to safeguard themselves, families, communities, friends and neighbours and, above all, ensure the crime is reported,” she noted.

“This crime is not one that the police will just know that it is happening, so each of us has a responsibility to bring the information to the fore and to see how we can protect persons from becoming victims and also to detect the potential for the crime to occur. The more we keep silent, the worst our problems will become,” she told JIS News.

Mrs. Palmer further informed that research is underway to identify hotspots for human trafficking.

“(It will) provide information on the different pockets on the island where human trafficking is likely to occur and this will help with the focussing of how and where the police execute operations,” she said.

On June 19, Jamaica recorded its first conviction for human trafficking under the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) (Amendment) Act 2013. The legislation provides harsher penalties for the crime and expands the list of offences.

Indian businessman, Rajesh Gurunani, who operated garment stores in downtown Kingston and in St. Catherine, was found guilty of trafficking in persons, facilitating trafficking in persons, and withholding travel documents between May 2008 and March 2011.

Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Lisa Palmer Hamilton, who prosecuted the businessman, said the conviction will serve as a precedent for other human trafficking cases.

She hailed the commitment and cooperation of the various entities, which worked to achieve the guilty verdict, and also lauded the witnesses who came forward.

“Preparation for cases of this nature takes a lot more into account than a regular case. For this case, if we did not have the commitment of the Government, NATFATIP, then we would not have been able to have four witnesses flown in from India to give evidence in this case,” she said.

In proving the trafficking in persons offence, one has to establish activity, means and purpose, all of which the prosecutor was able to demonstrate, as victims were present and willing to give evidence.