Police: There are no human trafficking hot spotsSaturday, July 31, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
DEPUTY commissioner of police (DCP) in charge of crime, Fitz Bailey, has dismissed an assertion made in the media that Jamaica has four human trafficking hot spots across the country, saying careless utterances with no supporting data do not bode well for the country.
“I want to categorically state that there is no human trafficking hot spot in Jamaica as was publicised by a certain media house. We must, as a society, act responsibly in terms of the utterances that we make because this crime is very serious and there are economic and social implications for us as a society,” the crime chief said.
He was speaking yesterday during the Ministry of National Security's virtual forum put on in recognition of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. According to the publication referenced by the commissioner, there were four human trafficking hot spots across the country, namely Ripon Road in Kingston, Port Henderson Road (“Back Road”) in Portmore, Jimmy Cliff Boulevard in Montego Bay, and Truck Stop in Runaway Bay, St Ann.
At the same time, DCP Bailey took aim at sources who have made statements in reference to Jamaica's efforts against trafficking in persons without producing scientific evidence to support the claims.
“We must... be wary of anecdotal evidence that is used as a basis for assessment instead of empirical data that is incontestable. I also want us to be reminded and be wary of those who are considered to be 'bandwagonists' who make our job much more difficult by utterances that are made,” he said.
Yesterday, the crime chief said the constabulary and the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP) have done significant work in their pursuit of victims.
“Since the formation of the JCF anti-trafficking unit in 2006, our data reveal that over 108 victims have been rescued to date – 45 males and 63 females,” DCP Bailey said. He told the forum that, of the total number, 43 were adults, including 15 men who experienced labour exploitation. He said 65 victims were under the age of 18 years old, adding that the females were primarily exploited for sexual reasons.
“What we currently observe is the exploitation of men, women, and children for forced labour, sexual exploitation, and other degrading activities. Human traffickers prey on people who are poor, isolated, and weak,” the crime chief said.
Recalling an experience in 2009, which saw the rescue of several victims of trafficking in the Dunrobin community in St Andrew, DCP Bailey said he was sufficiently shaken by the accounts of the individuals rescued.
“One of them remarked, 'Thank you for taking us out of hell,' and when they relayed their experience, as a male I was emotionally moved. I am the father of two girls and I considered my own two children at that time if they were found in that situation. I understand the nature of what some of these victims go through. It is, therefore, the duty of every well-thinking person across the globe to unite in efforts to purge our society of this dehumanising crime,” he stated.
The JCF, he said, has pledged its support to the fight to discourage this crime and that police across the island have been tasked to keep tabs on palaces of amusement, clubs, etcetera, and to support the anti-trafficking unit.
The United States State Department, in its 2021 report, said Jamaica would continue to be ranked at Tier 2 — meaning that the Jamaican Government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so. The stance was a repeat of the one it took in its 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report for Jamaica, where, among other things, it maintained that “there were no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offences”, although “the Government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period”.
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