Senator Williams Calls for Stronger Regional Collaboration to Fight Human Trafficking


State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Arthur Williams, has called for the strengthening of coordination and cooperation mechanisms in the region in order to address the issue of human trafficking in the Caribbean.
“I believe that there is need to strengthen co-operation at the regional level, (as), increasingly, the Caribbean region is being used by international criminal networks as an area for carrying out their nefarious activities,” Senator Williams pointed out.
He was speaking at a two-day regional seminar on Migration and Human Trafficking in the Caribbean, at the Alhambra Inn, in Kingston on November 28.
The State Minister suggested that there should be greater information sharing on human trafficking with the aim of developing a regional understanding of the problem. He further proposed that rules be established in the region for shipping and airline companies as it relates to the movement of persons suspected of trafficking in persons. Senator Williams also pointed to the need for the routine collection of data, which can then be used to inform policy decisions.
He submitted also too, that countries in the region can make greater use of the Proceeds of Crime Act or other such similar legislation against those convicted of a trafficking offence. “Very often those convicted are not mere individual players but part of a criminal network and our international experience has shown that the prospect of the criminal networks losing their criminal assets, is an important tool in the fight against crime and in particular, trafficking,” Senator Williams stated.
Turning to an initiative of the Government to further tackle the problem at the national level, the Minister advised that the Ministry is seeking to establish a Human Trafficking Unit as part of its International Relations Division, to deal with all policy matters as well as to co-ordinate the communication and public education campaign of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons.
He noted that this Task Force, established in 2005 as a multi-agency framework, aims to: raise the profile of trafficking in persons through public education; facilitate training for police officers, customs and immigration officials and the judiciary; recommend amendments to key legislation that are likely to aid in the prevention of trafficking in persons, prosecution of offenders and enhance the provision of intentions to protect victims; and establish protocols for interventions to help victims.
Another measure employed by the government to deal with human trafficking, is the passage of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) Act, in March 2007.
“To enforce the law, a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Unit was established in the Organised Crime Investigation Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. The Unit is actively involved in conducting raids of nightclubs suspected of being involved in trafficking in persons,” Senator Williams pointed out.
Additionally, the Unit works in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to screen all applications for permits to work as exotic dancers. It also conducts follow-up investigations to review work permits granted, to ensure that there are no breaches, and where there are breaches, to recommend suspension of permits.
According to a fact sheet prepared by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the People’s Action for Community Transformation (PACT), the trafficking of young persons is the second most lucrative trade in the world, with the United Nations estimating that it generates some US$32 billion annually in illicit profits.
Human trafficking takes place when persons, especially women, and children are tricked, lured, or forced into being taken from one part of a country to another or from one country to another, where the traffickers force them into prostitution, slave labour, and other demeaning occupations.
Those who are poor, and lack education, employment and other opportunities are especially vulnerable. Also of note is that many victims are sold to criminals by relatives, friends, or others they know and trust.
The seminar was organised jointly by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) of the Dominican Republic, the Eastern Caribbean and Jamaica, was held from Thursday, November 27 to Friday, November 28. The FES, founded in 1925, is a non-profit German political foundation, which was named after Friedrich Ebert, Germany’s first democratically elected president. The foundation aims to advance public policy issues by promoting the basic values of social democracy through education, research, and international cooperation. FES also supports the work of civil society groups and lobbies for the protection of human rights.

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