New trafficking bill in the works; includes focus on protecting children- AG

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Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC, has highlighted that a new bill to counter human trafficking is in the works and it forms part of government’s efforts to protect children.

The Attorney General said this on Tuesday, during a sitting of the National Assembly. Then, Members of Parliament were debating the Adoption of Children (Amendment) Bill, piloted by Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud.

The Attorney General stated that inter-country adoption of children, the central focus of the adoption bill, runs the risk of transnational crimes with children being vulnerable.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall (Photo: News Room/December 9, 2020)

As such, he underscored that updating Guyana’s laws in alignment with the Hague Convention that protects children and their families against the risks of illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad was paramount.

“This convention helps support the protection of our children from these crimes by requiring each state to put a safeguard to prevent the harm and exploitation of our children,” he said.

Beyond this alignment, however, the Attorney General underscored that Guyana’s law-making efforts must not be done in isolation.

And, he highlighted, “That is why we have a new trafficking bill that will be brought to the parliament that has in it several provisions that will go hand in hand with the provisions here against transnational smuggling.”

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud (DPI Photo/October 31, 2020)

This new trafficking bill, he explained, is part of the government’s efforts at reducing and outright preventing such heinous acts from occurring in Guyana. Already, he lamented that people smuggling has been a concern locally.

“…we are taking drastic measures to safeguard against that,” he told the National Assembly.

Only recently, the Attorney General told the News Room that with thousands of Haitians entering Guyana with no record of them leaving, the government is now unaware of how many cases like this there are.

Recently, over 40 persons of Haitian nationality were found at a hotel in New Amsterdam, Berbice; they, however, had their legal papers for entry and stay in Guyana.

“I don’t know how many pockets of people are in this country secluded at various places,” the AG added then.

There have been other instances where Haitian nationals were discovered by police officers.

Over the last six years, a total of 42,100 Haitian nationals are recorded to have arrived in Guyana, according to figures confirmed by the News Room, but of that number, only 3,913 persons are recorded to have departed.

This means that a total of 38,187 Haitians are unaccounted for, but local authorities do not believe they are here.

The figures have given rise to the suspicion that the Haitians are a part of a human trafficking and human smuggling ring of international proportions using Guyana as a transshipment point to get to other countries.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Dr. Persaud said that the Adoption of Children (Amendment) bill will help to protect children from abuse and exploitation and to harmonise protocols for their adoption.

Importantly, she said, “If there are inconsistencies between the provisions of the convention and the operation of any other law other than the constitution, the provisions of the constitution shall prevail.

“This is important because it removes any kind of tangle that can arise among different laws that are in specific countries.”

As Guyana moves to amend its Adoption legislation and bring it into alignment with the Hague Convention, international adoptions have been paused.

Minister Persaud also encouraged both sides of the house to support the amendment so that international adoption can resume and that children can be given better lives also.

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