KINGSTON — The Government is continuing efforts to combat the Trafficking in Human Persons (TIP), by spending some $15 million during 2010/2011 fiscal year to support victims and passing legislation to deal with offenders.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day National Plan of Action conference on Thursday September 22, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Hon. Dr. St. Aubyn Bartlett, addressed Jamaica’s effort to tackle the crime and its global network.
He said that of paramount importance was the establishment of a sound counter-trafficking framework.
"While the main piece of legislation is the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) Act 2007, the Government continues to provide subsidiary pieces of legislation that are also critical in the fight against human trafficking,” he explained.
"We have been offering free legal, medical and psychological services to victims of human trafficking. Despite limited resources, the Government, in partnership with an NGO and the International Organization for Migration (IMO), continues to undertake work towards the full operation of the Government-owned TIP Care Shelter for rescued victims, which has been retrofitted and furnished,” he added.
Stressing Jamaica’s resolve to denting the issue, Dr. Bartlett said the country will continue to participate in every effort to break the back of the problem.
"We will not be satisfied until we strengthen our investigative and prosecutorial capabilities, our overall capacity to protect our victims and our ability to prevent or minimize the incidence of human trafficking,” he stated.
He pointed out, however, that despite progress in addressing human trafficking, Jamaica’s efforts have not been without difficulties and challenges and, given the multifaceted and complex nature of human trafficking, investigations, prosecutions and victim assistance are proving to be extremely resource intensive.
"Within this context, countries must rely on close partnerships to effectively address the challenges. Additionally, it is important to constantly reflect and revise our plan of action, in keeping with the ever-changing socio-economic and political climate,” he said.
The 2011 United States TIP Report acknowledged that Jamaica has made progress in victim protection, however for the past five years the country has been ranked in the second tier countries of achieving success in controlling human trafficking.
Other legislation which impact on Jamaica’s efforts to control the crime include the Criminal Justice (Plea Negotiation and Agreement) Act, 2005 and Regulations, the Proceeds of Crime Act, 2007, the Cybercrime Act 2010, and the Child Pornography (Prevention) Act, 2010.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter