Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Dianne McIntosh, says there has been an increase in the number of victims of human trafficking, who have been rescued.
“In addition, there has been a marked divergence from earlier discerned trends, as male victims have also been rescued from bonded labour in early 2011,” she stated.
Ms. McIntosh’s remarks came in a speech read by Policy Director for Border Security and Control in the Ministry, Orane Bailey, during yesterday’s (February 6) opening of a training workshop on human trafficking at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.
She credits the gains to ongoing interventions on the part of the Government through education and training and equipping relevant personnel to fight the scourge.
She also cited decisive action by the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons to finalise its work plan and revamp the National Plan of Action for combating trafficking in persons.The National Task Force has the mandate of enhancing the government’s capacity to address trafficking in persons by guiding, coordinating, and monitoring efforts to suppress human trafficking.
This is in addition to the training of 15 telephone operators from the 811/Crime Stop hotline and the Office of the Children’s Registry in conducting Trafficking in Persons Hotline Telephone Management.
The Permanent Secretary also pointed to assistance from international partners such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has facilitated assistance to victims on matters such as repatriation, establishment of an action plan to address migration, and continuous sensitisation and training of frontline personnel.
"Today’s workshop is in keeping with the partnership between the government and the IOM to better equip law enforcement personnel, immigration officials, social services officers, health workers, prosecutors and other stakeholders, with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively and efficiently identify and assist victims of human trafficking,” she stated.
“The continual and comprehensive training of frontline workers is critical in order to adequately equip the state to fight trafficking on all levels,” she added.
The Permanent Secretary said the workshop, which is being held over three days, is timely, given the gravity of the issue of human trafficking worldwide, which affects 161 countries, with 127 being countries of origin, 98 transit countries, and 137 deemed destination countries.
Stating government’s commitment to providing frontline personnel and other critical stakeholders with the necessary tools to fight human trafficking, she urged the participants to use the skills and knowledge gained “to assist in your daily care and handling of victims of all crimes, with utmost respect, sympathy and dignity."
The training workshop is being conducted and funded by the IOM for frontline personnel including police personnel, immigration officers, labour inspectors, social services officers.
The overall objective is to equip local stakeholders with the knowledge and skills to be active in Jamaica’s national response to Trafficking in Persons by understanding the basic concepts; knowing about and how to use Jamaica’s referral process for victim identification and assistance; and knowing key stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities in Jamaica’s response to trafficking in persons.
Jamaica is a signatory and active participant to several international treaties to combat human trafficking, one of which is the PalermoProtocol to Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter