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JIS News

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson yesterday (August 9), urged parents and communities to become more alert about the welfare and protection of the children. Speaking at Jamaica House after accepting one of the posters to be used in the public education campaign on human trafficking, the Prime Minister said the campaign would serve to focus public attention on what is needed as a country to avoid the exploitation of the children.
The poster is one of three sets produced by the Government’s Communications Group (GCG) to support the public education campaign.
This is in light of the human trafficking report, which emerged out of the United States two months ago, placing Jamaica at a tier 3 ranking, the lowest level.
“The agencies of State, which have particular responsibilities, the non- governmental organizations, our churches which have always played a part. this is really something that requires a community effort and what this publicity programme will do is to focus public attention on what we need as a country and as a people to do to avoid the exploitation of our young children and I want to commend the professionals who have introduced this,” he said.
He noted that one of the effects of the report was to wake up the entire society to what is happening. “I think what has happened as a result of that adverse report is to wake up the entire society.
I think that Jamaicans, like any other group of people, have their faults and have their sins, but in the main, Jamaicans love their children, irrespective of their income level, irrespective of their social status and I know the sacrifice that parents at every level make for the welfare and protection and the upbringing of our children,” he said, adding that this serves to emphasize that it was not only the parents and the relatives, but the whole community, which must be alert and conscious to what was happening.
Mr. Patterson said this was not meant to absolve parents of their immediate responsibilities for the upbringing of their children, but to get all involved.
The Prime Minister said he knew there were contending views as to the correctness or otherwise of the finding, which was made against Jamaica, and that one should not chase away the messenger, but deal with the message.
“It is for those reasons that the moment the report was released, I thought it to be of sufficient importance to warrant the attention of the Cabinet and to put a team anchored in the Cabinet Office, to ensure that we do everything that is possible, not only to remove us from the category to which we have been assigned by the United States, but to make sure that nowhere in the island of Jamaica is there trafficking of any kind, whether adults or children,” he said.
Mr. Patterson pointed out that only a month after he took office as Prime Minister in 1992, one of the first things he did was to convene a meeting with all the agencies, which were involved in the welfare of children.
“There is no Ministry and there is hardly an agency of Government which does not, in some way or the other, have some responsibility for the welfare of our children. I think it was out of that initiative that we found it necessary to re-organize the whole institutional structure pertaining to the welfare of our children.out of which has emerged the agency with special responsibility for the welfare of children and a new Act to protect the welfare of our children,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ann-Marie Bonner, Principal Director in the Cabinet Office informed JIS News that the public education campaign was on-going in schools and communities with a lot of the information being transmitted through music and drama.
“The main objective is primarily to sensitize Jamaicans about what the issues are, because not many people are aware of what they are, and to make them aware that some things they would not consider to be, are included under the definition of human trafficking,” she said.
Mrs. Bonner said that from indications it is expected that another report, which the United States is slated to give in September, should be favourable to Jamaica, based on indications from a team, which came to Jamaica last month.
“Based on the team’s reaction, they were very pleased that a unit was established to deal with the issue and they were also very pleased that we had started prosecution,” she said.