Guyana has stepped up the ladder to a Tier 1 ranking in the United States State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.
This comes as the Government and the Guyana Police Force (GPF), along with several stakeholders, have been placing significant emphasis on reducing TIP cases.
Over the last couple months, there have been several training sessions and educational activities to sensitize the public on TIP cases.
Countries that are placed on the Tier 1 Watch List of Trafficking in Persons are those in which their governments have fully met the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
The Ministerial Task Force on TIP described the elevation as a reward for the tireless efforts of its members and other stakeholders who partnered to prevent persons from being trafficked and prosecute offenders.
Guyana was previously on the Tier 2 Watch list. Its latest ranking includes countries such as Canada, Australia, St. Maarten, Ireland, Israel, Bahamas, France and Spain.
In the report, it is stated that the Government of Guyana fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
“The government made key achievements during the reporting period; therefore, Guyana was upgraded to Tier 1.
The achievements included approving the 2017-2018 national action plan for combating trafficking in persons; increasing the number of investigation, prosecutions, and convictions; and identifying and assisting more victims for the second year in a row.”
The report further noted that although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not increase protection and services for victims outside the capital or provided adequate protection and shelter for child and male victims.
To further improve its ranking, the US State Department recommended that the country fund specialized service for victims, including those offered by Non Governmental Organizations for not only women but children and male victims.
Secondly, it asked that vigorous investigation be done, sex and labour trafficking cases be prosecuted and convicted traffickers, including complicit public officials, are held accountable by imposing sufficient stringent sentences.
Thirdly, the report mentioned training for law enforcement, judiciary officials and front-line responders, especially those working outside the capital.
On victim identification and referral procedures, it is recommended that the government finalize the written identification procedures to better guide law enforcement officials, and provide additional protection for victims to enable them to testify against traffickers in a way that minimizes re-traumatization.
The number of TIP cases should be reported to the trafficking hotline to promote a rapid investigative and victim assistance response and provide training for diplomatic personnel on human trafficking.
Meanwhile, in tackling TIP cases, local stakeholders have been working together to reduce the numbers of victims.
The GPF focuses on improving its border monitoring efforts and its investigative and prosecutorial capabilities through capacity building; the Ministry of Natural Resources through the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission provides funding, logistical support and human resource on call; the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions provides prompt legal assistance; and the Guyana Women Miners Organization continues to be a notable presence in the field.
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