JIS News

Sixty persons are currently receiving special training in aspects of direct assistance to victims of human trafficking.
This is being done under a joint initiative of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Ministry of Justice, and Sharedhope International Limited. The training will last for four days.
The participants include representatives from several government and non-governmental organisations, whose functions can bring about stricter anti-human trafficking measures, and create better response mechanisms in Jamaica. Some of these organisations include the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of National Security, among others.
At the opening of the course, held at Family Life Ministries on Cecelio Avenue in Kingston on June 11, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer noted that Jamaica had put several measures in place to improve its status since the United States Department of State published its last Trafficking in Persons Report in June 2006.
“As a developing nation, I am satisfied that we have taken this crime seriously. We are doing all that is in our power, subject to the resources that we have, to ensure that we are in a position to protect and safeguard our citizens and to warn persons that it is illegal to do that crime in this country,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary pointed out that anti-trafficking legislation had been brought into law, while an intensive public education programme had been undertaken. “We have had two major public fora and we have had several presentations to citizens and school groups as we seek to raise the level of awareness. The research shows that once people are aware of what constitutes the crime, then they are in a better position to assist their peers and to ward off the crime,” she informed.
During this assessment period the Government, with assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), has engaged the services of three consultants, the Permanent Secretary informed. “One is to assist us with the review of the legislation and the development of a policy against trafficking; another to look at the size of the problem; and the other to do training, to build capacity,” she said.
Mrs. Palmer said that despite the achievements, the major challenge remains the provision of shelter for persons who have become victims. “We are challenged to secure those facilities.you cannot afford to have a shelter that everybody knows what it is, because that will expose the victims,” she disclosed. However, she said the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons would not stand by and do nothing for victims. “Very shortly, we are going to be able to announce what the feasible solutions are, given our small state situation,” she said.
In this fiscal year, the Trafficking in Persons project has been allocated $8.83 million to expand the initial focus on domestic violence, to include sexual exploitation and trafficking in persons.
The project aims to conduct a comprehensive assessment of sexual exploitation and trafficking in persons; develop strategies to improve the enforcement of existing trafficking-related legislation; carry out training sessions for front line workers; and develop additional materials specific to trafficking.
The next United States Report is scheduled for publication today (June 12), and Mrs. Palmer noted that she would be having discussions with the United States Embassy on what is contained in the report on Jamaica. In its last Trafficking in Persons Report, the US State Department gave Jamaica a Tier Two placement on the watch list for countries. Countries assessed as not fully complying with the minimum standards, but making significant efforts to meet those minimum standards, are classified as Tier Two. However, the report stated that, “countries classified as Tier Two watch list are at risk of slipping to Tier Three, unless serious concerns are addressed.” Meanwhile, Chissey Mueller of the IOM in Washington told JIS News that the Organisation has been working with Jamaica since 2004 to combat trafficking in persons and was now branching out into the area of providing direct assistance to the victims of trafficking. “The idea is that IOM provides technical expertise and equip a core group of people, who then take ownership and forge the way forward,” she explained. Miss Mueller said that while it was not yet known how widespread human trafficking was in the Caribbean, “we know that it does exist, (although) it does not exist on the same scale as other parts of the world, for example, Eastern Europe or South East Asia”.
“If we respond now, it won’t blossom, and that is why one of the things that we are concerned about is actually preventing the issue from growing, which is why we are taking these steps now, so rather than being reactive, we are being proactive,” she added. Director of Policy, Planning and Evaluation at the Child Development Agency (CDA), Audrey Budhi, said that in Jamaica, “we are developing some policy guidelines and in keeping with some of the information that we have gained, we are doing training, so we definitely will know in short order what is the scope of the problem here in Jamaica.” She said broad-based support had been established to take on a multi-disciplinary approach to the problem. “This week’s training is another step forward in getting everyone on board and everyone involved. We are reaching out to all aspects of the society and the entertainment industry is definitely a target,” Miss Budhi said. “Before IOM came in, we had done research and we found that sexual exploitation in the form of human trafficking was taking place latently, among our young people, especially girls,” she stated.
The workshops, which are being held on June 11 and 12, and June 14 and 15 will look at issues such as: what constitutes human trafficking; case studies (trafficking versus smuggling); direct assistance; understanding the experiences of trafficked persons; and referral systems. This is the third major training on human trafficking that the IOM is conducting in Jamaica.

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