Cabinet has approved the immediate establishment of a Ministerial Committee to provide a comprehensive review of the 12th annual Trafficking in Persons Report following Jamaica’s downgrade.
This was disclosed by Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting on June 19, during a statement to the House of Representatives.
He informed that the committee will develop a programme of corrective action that will make Jamaica fully compliant with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and monitor the implementation of recommendations to ensure full compliance with such standards.
It will be chaired by Mr. Bunting, and will include the Ministers of: Justice, Labour and Social Security, Youth and Culture, and Information.
“One of the most urgent tasks that we will oversee is to ensure that the trafficking in persons shelter becomes fully operationalised. We will also be reviewing the current arrangements that inform the response of the relevant governmental agencies when children are reported missing,” Mr. Bunting told the House.
The 12th annual Trafficking in Persons Report, released on June 19 by the United States State Department, downgraded Jamaica from Tier 2 to the Tier 2 Watch List for the period under review, April 2011 to March 2012.
The Security Minister informed that this is the third time that Jamaica has been placed on the Tier 2 Watch List, and “is reflective of an assessment that acknowledges our efforts to counter the threat posed by trafficking in persons, but which recognises that we still have a long way to go in eliminating that threat."
According to the State Department, “the Government of Jamaica does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, however, it is making significant efforts to do so."
“In the case of Jamaica, while we have made significant progress in our efforts to eliminate trafficking, the report points to the lack of convictions of human trafficking offenders and the identification of only one victim during the review period as among its most serious concerns,” Mr. Bunting said.
He however noted that Jamaica has made significant progress in other areas, which include the expansion of the efforts of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP) to include more governmental agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs).
In addition, trafficking education seminars have been held for members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force; a crime victim hotline has been set up, which offers specialised assistance to persons reporting human trafficking; immigration officials have been sensitised to the needs of foreign victims; and temporary immigration relief provided for foreign trafficking victims.
The anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit in the Organised Crime Investigation Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force has conducted 45 raids, 231 interviews, eight surveillances.
Four persons have been charged with trafficking in persons as a result of two successful raids, while 10 prosecutions from previous reporting periods remain ongoing.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter