JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Serving for 13 years in the Ministry of Justice and over a decade dedicated to the fight against human trafficking, Permanent Secretary, Carol Ann Palmer, CD, epitomises the creed, ‘service above self’.
  • Her receipt of the ‘Pinnacle Award’, given by the US Embassy’s Stakeholder Appreciation and Recognition Awards (SARA) Committee on September 28, highlights not only her selflessness but her passion and commendable leadership skills towards the fight against human trafficking.
  • “It was a very pleasant surprise when I received the letter to advise me that I was nominated for this award. You kind of go through your experiences to see if you are deserving of it,” Mrs. Palmer tells JIS News.

Serving for 13 years in the Ministry of Justice and over a decade dedicated to the fight against human trafficking, Permanent Secretary, Carol Ann Palmer, CD, epitomises the creed, ‘service above self’.

Her receipt of the ‘Pinnacle Award’, given by the US Embassy’s Stakeholder Appreciation and Recognition Awards (SARA) Committee on September 28, highlights not only her selflessness but her passion and commendable leadership skills towards the fight against human trafficking.

“It was a very pleasant surprise when I received the letter to advise me that I was nominated for this award. You kind of go through your experiences to see if you are deserving of it,” Mrs. Palmer tells JIS News.

She received the inaugural ‘Pinnacle Award’ for her exceptional leadership skills and inspirational vision shown in the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Awareness Tour. Mrs. Palmer says the islandwide tour was a “fabulous” experience.

The Tour was a collaborative endeavour of the US Embassy and the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), which Mrs. Palmer chairs. The tour successfully accomplished the essential goal of building awareness among youth and community leaders across Jamaica about the dangers of human trafficking.

“Educating our people is one of the greatest factors for succeeding against human trafficking,” the Permanent Secretary says.

She notes that each project the NATFATIP undertakes is aimed at achieving the primary goal of reaching the Jamaican people, and the secondary goal of catering to victims of human trafficking and ensuring their well-being.

A graduate of Merl Grove High School and the University of the West Indies, Mrs. Palmer always wanted to give back.

She served as a Physical Therapist at the Mona Rehabilitation Centre, now known as the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre, after leaving university. She then joined the Ministry of Justice as Permanent Secretary in 2002.

Mrs. Palmer, who has served as Permanent Secretary from 2002 to 2009 and 2012 to the present, describes her work ethic as “purposeful”. She was appointed Chairman of NATFATIP on the directive of the Cabinet in 2005.

Before serving as Chairman, Mrs. Palmer took on the task as the Ministry of Justice’s representative on the Task Force, because she believed in the fight against human trafficking and in improving Jamaica’s ranking in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report.

The country’s Tier Three ranking at the time, threatened its eligibility for foreign and humanitarian aid. Under Mrs. Palmer’s leadership of the NATFATIP, Jamaica in 2016 moved to a Tier Two ranking in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report.

Mrs. Palmer is appreciative of the movement in the country’s ranking and is committed to continuously improving Jamaica’s anti-human trafficking efforts.

A dedicated Christian, the Permanent Secretary attributes her desire to serve to her religious faith. “I serve not for reward but unto God,” she tells JIS News.

Mrs. Palmer’s selflessness and dedication to serving Jamaica have accorded her the Order of Distinction, Commander Class (CD) in 2015 for her contribution to the health and justice sector.

She was also recognised in 2004 by the Seventh-day Adventist Church for public service and was a recipient of the 1999-2000 International Hubert Humphrey Fellowship.

“The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that people value service… . They might not ask for it; they might not even know that they need the service that you’re giving,” Mrs. Palmer says.

Some of her prouder moments, she shares, came with the passage of various laws to improve Jamaica’s ability to arrest, charge and convict criminals in the trafficking of persons and have victims rescued.

“Working for the betterment of the Jamaican people, I think, is my stimulus,” she adds.

She recalls that her proudest moment and one of the most demanding stints while serving against human trafficking was in December 2012, when 21 Honduran boys were rescued from the horrors of human trafficking and returned to their home country.

“This challenged my time for work and for my family. Holidays are times when my family gets the most attention, but I never gave a second thought to ensuring that those boys were safe and cared for,” Mrs. Palmer says.

The Permanent Secretary tells JIS News that she is driven not only by the support of her husband, children and wider family but by her desire to see Jamaica becoming a safer place for Jamaicans and anyone who would choose the island as their place of work and home.