The Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) has reported that at least two foreign nationals have been convicted within the past six years for attempting to sell a Jamaican child overseas.
In its 2009/10 annual report, the OCA points out that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Trafficking in Persons Unit indicates that since 2005, five incidents of child trafficking cases, and eight of sexual exploitation involving children were reported to them.
These, the OCA notes, included the attempted sale of a child by the two foreign nationals, who were apprehended, arrested and charged by the police, and subsequently convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment.
In addition to this, the OCA says other incidents occurring, as reported by the JCF, included two children employed in night clubs, three involved in pornography, and two who were solicited for sexual favours by a foreign national.
The OCA notes that the Office of the Children’s Registry also received 11 reports of child trafficking in 2008 and 16 in 2009. Other than the two convictions, the OCA reports that, up to earlier this year, the remaining matters were before the courts.
Meanwhile, in light of these findings, the OCA has recommended that the police conduct more spot checks in night clubs, bars and massage parlours to ensure that no children under 18 years old are employed in these establishments and engaging in illicit activities, such as prostitution and “hazardous work,” inclusive of domestic service, street vending or begging, in the informal or service sector.
The agency also laments reports of children being involved in, or subjected to other illicit engagements, such as trafficking and armed conflict.
Consequently, the OCA recommends that in addition to spot checks, that the owners of the establishments outlined be mandated to register their operations when moving to establish such entities.
In the meantime, the OCA has commended the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for conducting visits to several places of employment to conduct inspections on the status of the labour force, within the context of reported child labour activities.
According to the OCA’s report, the Ministry conducted announced and unannounced visits to 1,215 factories and 188 construction sites to conduct inspections in 2009.
“From these visits, no incident of child labour was found in the formal sector. The OCA commends the Ministry for these visits that were conducted and anticipates that the continuing work of the Ministry will help to stamp out child labour from the formal production sector,’ the OCA says.
CONTACT: DOUGLAS McINTOSH