Govt. to Take Action to Have Country Removed from Watch List


The Government of Jamaica will be taking steps to have the country removed from the watch list issued by the United States State Department, naming Jamaica among 14 countries that have failed to stop the ‘trafficking of persons’.
The United States last Friday (June 3) cited 14 nations, including Jamaica, of failing to do enough to stop the modern-day slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced labourers. Other countries listed are: Bolivia, Cambodia, Cuba, Ecuador, Myanmar (formerly Burma), North Korea, Sudan, Togo, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Addressing journalists at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House yesterday (June 6), Education, Youth and Culture Minister, Maxine Henry-Wilson said the Foreign Affairs Ministry would put together a response, which would be sent to the US State Department. In addition, she said Foreign Affairs Minister, K.D. Knight “is to embark on a number of diplomatic actions with a view to removing Jamaica from the watch list”.
Minister Henry-Wilson said meetings were also held between National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips and US Embassy officials in Jamaica last week, to determine “the nature of the complaint that has led to Jamaica being downgraded from the tier two watch list to tier three”.
She informed that based on the discussions, it was agreed that Mr. Knight should convene a meeting with relevant Ministries in an attempt to receive information and input from relevant Government agencies. Entities to be involved in this exercise include the Child Development Agency, the Passport Office, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Ministries of Health, Labour and National Security and also the Customs Department.
In the meantime, Mrs. Henry-Wilson said that Labour and Social Security Minister, Horace Dalley reported on a study, which the Ministry had conducted, arising from an International Labour Organization (ILO) convention/resolution, to which Jamaica was a party. She said the results arising from the study, to determine cases of trafficking of persons, were favourable.
She said that Health Minister, John Junor and Mr. Dalley had indicated that on the basis of the study conducted, they were confident that where such cases might have existed, action had been taken and that the Child Development Agency was diligently monitoring the situation.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson said the Government was not aware that the allegations of trafficking were true and as such, it would be moving expeditiously to clear the country’s “good name” and ensure that if any such situation existed, it was addressed.
“We are not at present aware of where this trafficking is taking place. Certainly, if it is trafficking in the island, then we need to be made aware of it,” she said.
Furthermore, the Minister emphasized that if information existed to prove otherwise, it should be submitted to the Foreign Affairs Ministry so action could be taken.

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