US lauds Guyana for tackling TIP
Guyana, like the United States of America (USA), has maintained its Tier 1 status in the 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released on Thursday by the U.S State Department.
This means that the South American country fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. According to the US State Department, during the reporting period which coincided with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Guyana Government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts.
These efforts included increasing investigations, identifying and assisting more victims, creating the first anti-trafficking hotline in Spanish, opening an additional shelter, and creating standard operating procedures for victim identification.
Although the Guyana Government meets the minimum standards, it did not prosecute as many traffickers or provide adequate screening and shelter for child and male victims, the report noted.
The government also lacked capacity and training to identify and investigate trafficking cases in remote regions, the report further noted. In 2020, authorities reported 31 new investigations (23 for sex trafficking and eight for labor trafficking), compared to 27 in 2019 and 30 in 2018.
The government reported one new prosecution for sex trafficking in 2020, compared with three prosecutions in 2019 and 11 in 2018. The prosecution was for one case of solicitation of trafficking victims.
Prosecutions also continued against two defendants in previously initiated cases.
Authorities convicted one trafficker during the reporting period, compared to one in 2019 and one in 2018. In February 2021, a non-Guyanese was convicted of trafficking a Venezuelan woman for sex, following charges brought in June 2020.
According to the report, the government increased protection efforts.
In 2020, the government identified 199 victims, a significant increase from 102 victims identified by the government and three additional victims identified by an international organization in 2019. Of the 204 victims, 127 were Venezuelans, 27 Haitians, 24 Dominicans, 22 Guyanese, three Jamaicans, and one Cuban.
Of these, 151 were female and 53 male, with ten of them being children.
Among the notable efforts as listed by the report are:
- Increase prosecutions and convictions in sex and labor trafficking cases and pursue them under the 2005 TIP Act, including for those cases involving child victims.
- Investigate trafficking cases in remote regions of the country.
- Fund specialized victim services, particularly for child, adult male, and Venezuelan victims in their native language.
- Reduce delays in court proceedings and pretrial detention of suspects.
- Monitor the working conditions of Cuban medical workers, proactively screen participants for trafficking indicators, and protect trafficking victims identified.
- Hold convicted traffickers, including complicit public officials, accountable by imposing strong sentences.
- Prohibit recruitment and placement fees charged to workers.
- Develop standard trauma-informed victim identification and referral procedures and train law enforcement officials and front-line responders in their use.
- Renew implementation of a data-sharing system in coordination with an international organization.
- Complete a training manual for diplomats. PROSECUTION The government maintained minimal law enforcement efforts. The Combating Trafficking of Persons Act of 2005 (Act) criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of three years to life imprisonment. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.