TIP Task Force sees increase in Venezuelans
By Bibi Khatoon
The Ministerial Task Force against Trafficking in Persons has recorded 68 alleged victims of trafficking from January to May of 2018.
The majority of those persons were found to be nationals of Latin American countries.
This was disclosed by the acting Coordinator of the Task Force, Oliver Profitt, on the sidelines of a training session for officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) this morning.
Profitt told News Room there is an increase in Venezuelan nationals being trafficked. He clarified that the victims are adults.
“The Dominican Republic was showing up a lot before, Brazil was showing up before but now we’re seeing more Venezuelan nationals,” Profit told News Room.
He alluded to a raid conducted by the Guyana Police Force earlier this year where 41 alleged victims were rescued –35 were found to be Venezuelans.
Profit revealed that 41 alleged victims were recorded in 2014, 59 in 2015, 98 in 2016 and 50 in 2017.
The US State Department report on Trafficking in Persons over the years has dubbed Guyana as “a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.”
The 2016 report listed Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Suriname, and Venezuela as the origin of trafficking victims.
However, in 2017, Guyana was updated to a Tier 1 country which means that it met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
While the number of cases is recorded, oftentimes there are no prosecutions given the fact that the alleged victims are deported.
The Task Force Coordinator (ag) said the most important aspect of such cases is the testimony of the victims.
“Victim testimony is paramount to achieving a successful prosecution,” he said.
“A lot of times the victims would have families back at home and they would need to provide necessities, funding, whatever for their families back at home so for them to stay here and go through the process to prosecution, may not necessarily be to their interest.”
The Task Force is looking to increase prosecution rates through training, information sharing with other countries and alternatives to obtaining testimonies.
“What is positive is that even if alleged victim returns home, there is a provision for the use of Skype, of video testimony from their home territory so we’re trying to tap into these options to make ourselves a bit more successful in the future,” Profitt told News Room.
A proposal has been drafted to improve the current process, he said while officials are looking “to establish some cooperation with other countries going forward which would be beneficial for both of us.”
The US State Department reports have noted that the majority of the trafficking victims end up in Guyana’s mining communities in the interior and urban areas.
The Task Force on Tuesday commenced training for Mines Officers of the GGMC. The two-day session will help the officers who work at various locations, to get a clear understanding of TIP and in so doing, be able to differentiate from other crimes.
Those in attendance will also gain the ability to identify victims of TIP and share the nature of TIP in the mining areas from their perspective.
They will also be given the opportunity to share recommendations to better tackle the scourge, especially in the mining areas.
The Task Force is made up of representatives from the Ministries of Public Security, Social Protection, Foreign Affairs, Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Communities, Natural Resources and Legal Affairs, the GGMC, Police Force, Immigration Office, Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Indigenous Peoples’ Commission, Food for the Poor, Help and Shelter and the Guyana Women Miners Organization.
In 2005 Guyana initiated the Combating In Trafficking Act which was borne from the UN convention on transnational organized crime.