JIS News

Story Highlights

  • As part of efforts by the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) to combat trafficking in children, 14 of its officers from across five parishes recently participated in a one-day training workshop to sharpen their assessment skills.
  • Trafficking includes the recruitment, transport, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons.
  • Between 2014 and 2015, the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch (C-TOC) launched ‘Operation ID/Fix’ which successfully identified the major players in the massage and sex trade.

As part of efforts by the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) to combat trafficking in children, 14 of its officers from across five parishes recently participated in a one-day training workshop to sharpen their assessment skills.

The workshop, held at the OCR’s office in Kingston, was aimed at identifying incidents of child trafficking among the cases of abuse reported to the agency.

Child trafficking involves the organised movement of males or females under the age of 18 within a country or across borders for the purpose of exploitation through forced labour, sexual activities or involving the child in work for which he or she is too young or which is likely to be harmful to the health, safety or morals of the child.

Trafficking includes the recruitment, transport, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons. The OCR and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Anti-Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Vice Squad form part of the national task force to combat this issue.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Carl Berry, who heads the JCF’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Vice Squad, tells JIS News that children fall victim to trafficking through threats, use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power, because of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation.

“It is a transnational criminal activity and, as a consequence, we are using different methods to approach the fight,” he says.

“For example, we have started educating persons through sensitisation sessions to ensure that people get the message and understand the crime so that they can report much better.”

Deputy Registrar of the OCR, Warren Thompson says the recent training session is one of several conducted by the agency internally to assess reports for elements of child trafficking. This is critical to initiate investigations of possible trafficking cases.

“They are the front line persons who analyse the details of incidents reported to the registry and determine if any child is a victim of trafficking or if there are any reports that contain any element of child trafficking,” Mr. Thompson says.

The OCR official notes that the analysis of reported cases is delicate as some cases are associated with other issues of child exploitation.

“Part of the issue is that there are crimes that are akin to trafficking, such as child pornography and child selling. So the training was aimed at helping our officers to better distinguish trafficking from those other crimes. So we wanted our officers not to confuse these other cases with child trafficking but to better determine whether there is evidence in a report that clearly suggest that trafficking is taking place,” he says.

The OCR makes referrals of suspected cases of child trafficking to the TIP unit which investigates these cases, to determine whether trafficking is taking place, towards prosecution of persons guilty of trafficking.

Over the 2013 and 2014 period, the OCR has received 60 reports of suspected cases of child trafficking. These are under investigation.

Upon receipt of these cases, the TIP unit engages in operations to locate victims as well as perpetrators of trafficking.

These activities include disruption exercises which will see the unit investigating cases to prevent persons becoming victims of trafficking.

Between 2014 and 2015, the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch (C-TOC) launched ‘Operation ID/Fix’ which successfully identified the major players in the massage and sex trade.

From this operation, several significant arrests have been made as well as displacement of three major prostitution rings in Kingston, St. Catherine and St. James.

Over the period, 350 raids/operations and surveillance drills have been conducted; over 10,600 persons were sensitised on the topic of human trafficking, including police officers, students, civic and social groups, service clubs and churches.