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JIS News

Government’s initiatives to address trafficking in persons is bearing fruit, with 12 convictions and investigations to date, which have resulted in fines totaling $175,000 and four deportations.
Minister of Information and Development, Donald Buchanan, who made the announcement at yesterday’s (Nov.6) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, informed that there were eight specific trafficking in persons cases before the Supreme, Resident Magistrate and Children’s Courts, based on breaches of the Child Care and Protection Act.
In addition, 24 raids have been carried out on nightclubs resulting in detection of nine breaches under the Spirit Licences Act and the issuing of 10 warnings.
“Investigations are producing results and enabling a profiling and identification of individuals or groups involved in the crime of trafficking in persons at the national level, including local club operators and businessmen working in tandem with individuals or networks abroad, who scout and entrap female workers apparently to work in the entertainment industry,” Mr. Buchanan said.
He also mentioned that “the actions of the Trafficking in Persons Unit of the JCF have resulted in the scaling down of operations or closure of some of these facilities”.
Jamaica’s programme to prevent, suppress and punish persons involved in trafficking in persons, is very comprehensive and involves the training of personnel in the legal system, including law enforcement officers on threats to border security, methods of forging or altering passports and emerging trends and in trafficking in persons activities.
As it regards protecting persons from this crime, Minister Buchanan informed that the Evidence (Amendment) Act, which should be going to Cabinet shortly, “will allow for greater protection of vulnerable witnesses including trafficking victims and permits evidence to be given by live television link”.
The National Task Force against Trafficking in Persons is actively working at developing Jamaica’s national policy, while legislation for the Prevention, Suppression and Punishment of Trafficking in Persons Act 2006, which is in the final stages of review, should be tabled in Parliament on or about November 14.
The government is also seeking to implement measures to combat cyber crime and child pornography.
“The provision of shelters for trafficking in persons victims is an important component of the national initiative to counter trafficking in persons”, Mr. Buchanan said further, noting that four locations have been identified as potential sites for these facilities and they would be put into operation within the next three months.
Additionally, guidelines for the appropriate treatment of victims of trafficking in persons are being developed.
As it regards prosecution, the Information Minister said that a Trafficking in Persons Unit was established within the JCF Organized Crime Division in August 2005, “to focus on trafficking in persons investigations and prosecutions as well as the compilation of relevant data”.
In the meantime, Mr. Buchanan informed that the case of the 700 missing passports was “thoroughly investigated and has resulted in the arrest of nine persons; recovery of 12 passports; suspension of 12 employees at the Immigration and Passport Division of the Ministry of National Security”.
He added that “there has been no indication that any of these missing passports was used for the purposes of human trafficking”.
Jamaica trafficking in persons programme is being watched by the United States government and is due for interim assessment by the United States Congress this month.