Human trafficking trouble

Human trafficking trouble

Rapporteur says not enough being done to tackle issue, wants recommendations implemented

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 30, 2020

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THE Jamaican Government appears to be dragging its feet in dealing with the growing problem of human trafficking, while the country's National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Diahann Gordon Harrison has warned that not enough is being done to tackle this issue.

It the 2018-2020 report from the Office of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, Gordon Harrison noted that several of its recommendations, which were made in 2018, have still not been implemented, as human trafficking continues to grow.

Gordon Harrison repeated a number of the previous recommendations and provided updates in the report, as she argued that if they are implemented they would bolster Jamaica's antihuman trafficking efforts.

Among the recommendations from Gordon Harrison is a call for increased focus on male victims of human trafficking.

“Jamaica still has no designated shelter that provides accommodation for male victims of human trafficking. This is a significant gap which needs to be filled, as it is well documented that it is not only women and girls who feature as victims of human trafficking in Jamaica,” said Gordon Harrison.

“Though 'shelter solutions' are made available, a male shelter would ensure that relevant safety procedures are maintained, and appropriate therapeutic services are provided to the victims,” added Gordon Harrison.

The national rapporteur on trafficking in persons also recommended more funding and support for the widespread training and sensitisation of members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) on the indicators of human trafficking.

“Training cannot occur periodically or when funds happen to become available, whether through donor funding or otherwise,” argued Gordon Harrison.

“It is also recommended that new recruits at the National Police College be exposed to in-depth [human trafficking] training as a standard part of their preparation for becoming effective members of the police force,” added Gordon Harrison as she argued that it should not be left to the Trafficking in Persons Unit of the JCF to deal with this problem.

The report also recommends increased co-ordination by Government agencies and other stakeholders to deal with human trafficking and more training of labour inspectors to identify this offence in homes or residential facilities.

According to the report, Gordon Harrison is particularly concerned about the trafficking of domestic workers because this is usually well hidden “as it occurs within someone's private residence and is typically practised by affluent and/or well-connected persons”.

In addition, Gordon Harrison is calling for more strident prosecution of people involved in human trafficking.

“The national rapporteur is of the firm view that strong prosecutions, which result in convictions, send a strong message to human traffickers that our Jamaican system can, and will hold them accountable.”

To that extent, Gordon Harrison has recommended an increase in the number of prosecutors in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions tasked with dealing with human trafficking cases, to ensure that they can concentrate on each case.

Gordon Harrison has also recommended an increase in the number of JCF trafficking in persons investigators and that they be provided with greater financial resources and the requisite training to ensure that they can go after major violators.

“Though the traffickers identified in Jamaica may not appear to have the resources that would require a financial investigation, they may be connected to a wider criminal structure, which is motivated to continue with its criminal undertakings because of how lucrative the business is,” said Gordon Harrison.

Jamaica was ranked in Tier 2 in the United States State Department 2019 report, which noted that while Kingston is “making significant efforts” to deal with trafficking in persons, it still does not, however “fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking”.

Tier 2 countries are those whose governments do not fully comply with the 2000 US Trafficking Victims Protection Act minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

If Jamaica slips into Tier 3, which comprise the countries the US deems as not meeting the “minimum standards” to deal with human trafficking it could be hit with restrictions, unless the White House grants it a waiver. Tier 1 countries are those the US believes are doing enough to tackle human trafficking.


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