A three-year national action plan to respond to cases of trafficking in persons is being developed across key government Ministries, with Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn warning that corruption helps to perpetuate the scourge.
“…we have to move to work against the corrupting effects that it has with the police, with immigration, with officials, with people who create false identities and all of those things, which still occurs,” Benn said at the opening of a two-day workshop to draft the 2021-2023 plans.
He added that the trafficking in persons does not exist by itself; there are other issues which are connect such the drug trade, money laundering, arms-trading and other immoral activities.
“When we identify the linkages of this phenomena to other activities-illegal of course- we see a clear relationship, a clear opportunity for persons who are involved in nefarious activities to use the trafficking of persons and the people smuggling to carry on the other problems,” Benn stated.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Human Services and Social Security (MOHSSS) have collaborated in an effort to eliminate human trafficking.
The workshop, being held at the Sleepin Hotel, Church Street, Georgetown, is set to develop a programme that will filter to every agency that deals with trafficking in persons; the intention is that every frontline worker will be prepared with the skills to identify victims of trafficking.
Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud, emphasized the importance of a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach.
“Today, as you embark on this conversation that is so necessary and so important, as we continue to work towards the maintenance of our Tier One status, I want to say that we must even so overemphasize the importance of training,” Minister Persaud said.
Through the MOHSSS, forestry officers, police ranks, customs officers, community policing groups, local government authorities, accounts and administrative staff of the MOHSSS, transport operators and members of civil society will be trained.
The Minister further went on to say that the campaign and training will be done in foreign languages and indigenous languages.
“We believe that awareness needs to be out there because trafficking in persons can be considered invisible. It’s called ‘Modern day slavery’ because persons lose all of their rights when they’re embraced in the grip of a trafficker.
“And trafficking in persons has no age limit (and) no discrimination when it comes to gender, race.
“And we need to recognize it, expose it, but more importantly, report it,” she explained.
Recently, the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, Counter Trafficking in Persons Unit (C-TIPU) held a training workshop to help traffic ranks identify cases of trafficking in persons. The Ministry in 2020 recorded 225 victims of human trafficking. She explained that the Ministry and Ministerial Task Force have over the years developed and implemented various initiatives to respond to the issue.