Police Prosecutors receive special training on TIP

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Police Prosecutors are now better equipped to successfully present a trafficking in person case in court following a one day training exercise designed to achieve this goal held today (Saturday, April 1, 2017).

The training will also enable them to use evidence effectively to prove perpetrators guilty. These persecutions are in line with the combating of Trafficking in Persons ACT NO 2 of 2005, while taking international best practices into consideration.

The Prosecutors received training in identification, prevention and prosecution but they were also given an opportunity to share some of the challenges they faced when prosecuting a TIP Case and their success stories.

Task Force Coordinator (ag), Oilver Profit from the Ministry of Public Security said that the Task Force is aware of the challenges that the Prosecutors faced when building and prosecuting TIP cases. However, he noted that these challenges can be solved with team work among the different agencies. Profitt said that Task Force will also be assessing the needs of Police Prosecutors with regard to similar cases locally.

Additionally, the Task Force will be creating a network with Prosecutors whereby the can review successes, failures and make recommendations to improve future TIP cases.

Presentations to the Prosecutors highlighted definition, the act and means of trafficking in persons. Additionally, Profitt outlined the four key areas that the task force is functioning by. These include Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnerships.

Meanwhile, Senior Officer (SO) in charge of the Trafficking in Persons Unit of the Major Crimes Unit, Criminal Investigations Department, Shenay Castello in her presentation of “The Role of the Guyana Police Force in TIP” said that the most important role is to “prevent the crime from happening.” She added, “It’s the duty of law enforcement officers and other stakeholders to stand committed in fighting TIP.”  Castello elaborated that the law enforcement officers are tasked to bring justice to the victims of TIP.

The SO emphasised that the fight against TIP cannot be done by just one agency but partnerships need to be formed so that “this modern day slavery can be eradicated”. She highlighted that currently there is only TIP unit in the GPF and it is located at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). The unit consists of three ranks who are always offered assistance by the Major Crimes Unit of the GPF.

Speaking on Victim Identification, Inspector Fiona Harris of the Immigration Office said that it is not narrowed down into one particular area. She also pointed out that males are a part of the TIP industry and added that the stakeholders need to pay interest in the areas of mining, agriculture and even construction in the fight against TIP.

Harris, who received training from International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL), reminded that when prosecuting or building a TIP case, the victims should be aware of their rights and prosecutors should have patience when interviewing them.  Elaborating on screening of victims by prosecutors, Harris said that they must be able to listen and be respectful, ask general questions first, use open body language, and be observant.

Additionally, Probation and Social Services Officer from the Ministry of Social Protection’s Counter-Trafficking in Persons (C-TIP) Denise Ralph, said that the Ministry has been working tirelessly to assist victims of TIP. She noted a number of victims, who are in the Ministry’s care, are enrolled in number of courses. These include cosmetology, home management among other areas.

The training course was held at the Guyana Police Force Officers’ Training Centre.

 (Information gathered from GINA)

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