Jun 15, 2010 News
Guyana has been ranked on the Tier 2 Watch List on the annual report on Trafficking in Persons prepared by the United States Department of State.
The 2010 report, released yesterday, names Guyana as a source country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced prostitution and forced labour.
The report stated that forced prostitution occurs in brothels on the coast and around mining camps as well as in rum shops and Chinese restaurants.
According to the report, the common Guyanese practice of poor, rural families sending children to live with higher income family members or acquaintances in more populated areas has the potential to evolve into forced domestic servitude.
The State Department pointed out that trafficking victims in Guyana may not self-identify to authorities due to fear of retribution from trafficking offenders, fear of resettlement to abusive home situations, and lack of awareness that human trafficking is a crime.
The report stated that groups particularly vulnerable to human trafficking in Guyana include Amerindian females, foreign women (such as Brazilians) in prostitution, and children.
During the reporting period, the U.S. Department of Labour reported results of a project that withdrew 984 children from exploitive child labour in logging and saw-milling, fishing, hazardous farming, factory work, mining, and freight handling from 2005 to 2009.
This project, Minister of Human Services and Social Security Priya Manickchand said the government knew nothing about.
The report stated that the government of Guyana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.
Despite these efforts, the report claimed the government did not initiate any new prosecutions of trafficking offenses during the reporting period and is yet to convict or punish any trafficking offenders under its five-year old anti-human trafficking law.
During the period, the report pointed out that the government and Non Government Organisation (NGOs) identified four victims of trafficking, two of whom prison officials proactively identified.
According to the report, the government provided some resources toward victim protection and local anti-trafficking groups, but no suspected traffickers were charged, limiting the level of safety and protection that could be provided to victims.
While the government took some tangible steps to raise awareness of human trafficking, including the establishment of focal point groups and an anti-trafficking task force, some local observers felt that the government discouraged discussions on developing effective strategies for combating this phenomenon of modern-day slavery, the report stated.
The State Department recommended that Guyana greatly increase efforts to prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders in Guyana, including any government officials complicit in human trafficking. Also, it suggested that legal alternatives be offered to remove foreign trafficking victims and encourage law enforcement and other officials as well as NGOs to identify trafficking victims and refer them for assistance.
Other recommendations are for the police, the Ministry of Labour, and the “forestry service” to employ formalised procedures, based on recognised trafficking indicators, as part of routine inspections to identify additional victims.
In addition, the report called for a climate of open discussion about the scope and magnitude of Guyana’s human trafficking problem and that there be enhanced partnerships with NGOs to boost the trust of trafficking victims in law enforcement personnel; and raise awareness among the general population about all forms of human trafficking.
The report said the government made no discernible progress in prosecuting, convicting, and sentencing human trafficking offenders in Guyana during the reporting period.
The Combating Trafficking of Persons Act of 2005 prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes sufficiently stringent penalties, ranging from three years to life imprisonment, and which commensurate with those for rape. The report claims that the government reported four new trafficking investigations during the reporting period, none of which led to prosecutions, while the government’s four prosecutions from previous reporting periods remained ongoing, with no significant progress.
The NGOs and one government official expressed concern that trafficking-related official complicity was a problem, the report stated.
“It is reportedly common for defendants to bribe court officials for favourable rulings. The Ministry of Home Affairs conducted two anti-trafficking training programmes, one in partnership with IOM (International Office for Migration), for 120 police, prosecutors, and investigators during the reporting period,” the report stated.
When ayuh will wake up?
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