JIS News

The Government has condemned the acts of slave trading which has been reported in Libya.

“This human indignity is unreservedly and entirely condemned by the Government and we commit to working with the international community to curtail this despicable trade in human beings, wherever it occurs across the world,” Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith said.

She made the comments during the sitting of the Senate on Friday (December 1), following local and international media reports of persons being sold as labourers in slave auctions.

Senator Johnson Smith said the United Nations, along with its member states must continue to publicize and educate citizens of the existence and different forms of modern day slavery and its consequences, especially on the most vulnerable.

“We encourage all countries to take the necessary measures within their borders to identify and eliminate this abhorrent practise, and in this regard, we note and welcome even with caution announcements emerging from the African Union/ European Union Summit in Cote D’Ivoire…where specific actions are to be taken to address the situation of migrants of Libya,” she said.

In the meantime, Senator Johnson Smith said even as the acts in Libya are condemned, Jamaicans should also focus their outrage and offence on issues occurring locally.

“Modern day slavery is not limited to the inhumane treatment of African migrants on the continent. It includes the young girl in rural Jamaica answering an advertisement in the paper promising on the job training in customer service, who finds herself forced into prostitution or threat of death if she seeks to run away.

“(It also) includes the young boy who lost his parents and is taken in by a member of a neighbouring community but who is made to work seven days per week, not attend school, not play, and he is given little food or drink, but an abundance of beatings,” she added.

Senator Johnson Smith said the Government is taking steps to increase awareness of the different practices and working to reduce the vulnerabilities of the population.

“In that regard, work has crossed administrations, and we have established an inter-ministerial National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons, in which the Foreign Ministry is involved,” Senator Johnson Smith informed.

She said as part of the country’s campaign against human trafficking, Jamaica was most recently an active participant in the United Nations High Level Meeting on Trafficking in Persons, held in September 2017.

Senator Johnson Smith said while legislative frameworks are in place and task forces have been trained, “we still have to look around us and be aware of matters that should be reported.”

Meanwhile, as Jamaica observes the International Day for the abolition of Slavery today (December 2) Senator Johnson Smith reiterated the importance of safeguarding human dignity.

“Let us pay special attention to the most vulnerable among us, as no form of slavery should be excused or tolerated in our societies. We must all remain vigilant to ensure the eradication of this scourge that is a stain on humanity, whether on the continent of Africa, or right here at home,” she said.

For his part, Acting Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Dr. Floyd Morris said “we on this side are fundamentally opposed to any form of slavery. Slavery has been a scourge on humanity.”

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