Chairman of the National Task Force for the Prevention in Human Trafficking, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, has expressed concern that the work of the Government of Barbados is being misrepresented in the media.
He was responding to a front page story in today???s Barbados Advocate entitled: Curb Human Trade. The statement is as follows:
The Government of Barbados established the National Task Force for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons on February 16, 2012 with its primary mandate: To coordinate Barbados??? anti-trafficking activities; advance a national plan of action for the prevention of?? trafficking in persons, and to evaluate and monitor the response of Government. The Secretariat for the Task Force is the Bureau of Gender Affairs, the agency that has been leading the response of the Government of Barbados since 2004.
The Task Force is chaired by the Attorney General, the Hon. Adriel Brathwaite, and comprises representatives or the Permanent Secretaries from the various Ministries of Government, who, under the terms of the Protocol of the Transnational Organised Crime (Prevention and Control) Act, 2011 (TOCO) have specific responsibility and accountability for the operationalisation of the protocol. Included on the task force are members of the Non-Governmental Organisation Community who provide services to the victims of trafficking.
The National Work Plan of the Task Force has operated within the following areas: Prevention, Protection and Prosecution.?? To date, Barbados can be proud of its achievements in all these areas.??
Under the aegis of the Trade In Persons (TIP) National Task Force, the Bureau of Gender Affairs embarked on an extensive Community Outreach Programme entitled ???NOT AGAIN: Trafficking in Persons- Modern Day Slavery???, moving across the island with panel discussions and town?? hall meetings.
The Barbados Government Information Service ran a public information campaign with a series of interviews with critical stakeholders. Officers from the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Immigration Department, and several key agencies within Government have been exposed to extensive training on the Anti-trafficking laws of Barbados, the identification of victims of human trafficking, and the rights and services to the victims for their protection, care and support
Within another few weeks, the Immigration Department will be co-facilitating a training workshop, as the department continues to build its capacity and capability.?? Similar exercises are expected from the Royal Barbados Police Force, after also undergoing the Trainer of Trainers workshop facilitated by the International Organisatiion of Migration.
At the end of last year, a High-Level Round Table was held, where feeding out of this was the need for a national consultation on the need for the harmonisation of the TOCO and the Immigration Laws.?? This is an activity planned in the 2013 Workplan.
The Business and Professional Women???s Club, one of the NGOs that sits on the Task Force, responded effectively and efficiently providing care and support for the five women who were recently rescued from an exposed Trafficking Ring.?? The women were assisted in every way as described and defined by the protocol, and again with the assistance of the International Organisation of Migration, were repatriated safely to their country. ??
The Royal Barbados Police Force established a Sex Crime and Trafficking Unit in March 2013.?? Currently, there are three persons charged with the Crime of Human Trafficking before the courts of Barbados.
???While it is accepted that not all persons in the community will have heard the messages, or read papers on the work of the National Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking, it is expected that before seeking to represent our country at international meetings and conferences, that individuals first seek to gather accurate information that ensures the good name and reputation of our country.
Notes which guided the above statement
M.P. No.:4247/1T4.???? This decision of Cabinet put into operations one of the three protocols of the Transnational Organised Crime (Prevention and Control) Act, 2011-3 (TOCA).
Paragraph 10 of the Cabinet Paper stated: ???It is evident that combatting trafficking in persons requires cooperation and information-sharing across various Government agencies. To this end, it was recommended that a National Task Force be established to coordinate Barbados??? anti-trafficking activities, to develop and implement a national plan for the prevention of trafficking in persons and to keep said plan in continuous review.???
The National Task Force was launched with membership from the following ministries and agencies:
The Minister of Home Affairs or his representative (Chairperson);
Permanent Secretary (Foreign Affairs) or his representative;
Permanent Secretary (Attorney General???s Office) or his representative;
Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Family) or his representative;
Permanent Secretary (Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development) or her representative;
The Commissioner of Police or his representative;
The Director of Public Prosecution or his representative;
The Chief Immigration Officer or her representative;
The Director of the Bureau of Gender Affairs or her representative; and
President of the Business and Professional Club of Barbados
President of the Barbados Red Cross.
It is as a result of the noted intervention that Barbados has maintained the ???Tier 2 Watch List??? rating for the third consecutive year and hence has avoided being downgraded. The Bureau is highly cognisant of the importance of the role of the TIP National Task Force in demonstrating and highlighting Barbados??? commitment to the prevention of trafficking in persons and for the identification and prosecution of traffickers of persons in our country.
Consequently, the Bureau continues to lead the way in seeking to address the issues and implement the activities identified on the Work Plan, as we endeavour to move Barbados from the ???Tier 2 Watch List??? to ???Tier 1 ???Ranking. To this end, Barbados has in fact made some progress inclusive of the following:
Public Awareness Campaign in collaboration with the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS)
Five interviews with various members of frontline officers of some of the various ministries and the NGO community were completed and aired.??
The interviews remain relevant and are in continuous use by the Barbados Government Information Service.?? Barbadians were informed of what is human trafficking; the measures taken by the immigration department, and the responsibility of Government to ensure that victims of trafficking were not further criminalised.
The following ministries gave interviews:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade;
Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF);
Business and Professional Women???s Club (BPW);
Bureau of Gender Affairs.
Community Outreach Programme
Under the aegis of the TIP National Task force the Bureau also embarked on an extensive Community Outreach Programme entitled:?? ???NOT AGAIN???, trafficking in Persons – Modern Day Slavery???.?? The Community Outreach programme sought to target
a wide cross section of the Barbadian public and to sensitise the community to the many facets of the issue inclusive of the identification of the problem and the prosecution of offenders. ??
Commencing in May 2012, public meetings have been held at strategic locations across the island namely, the Valley Community Resource Centre in St George, Queen???s Park Steel Shed, the Alexandra School and the St James Secondary School. The final panel discussion was held at the Lester Vaughn School.
Through the efforts of the Bureau in collaboration with the (BGIS) these public meetings have been given the widest possible promotion by way of the mass media. Additionally, the Bureau has also enlisted the help of key stakeholders such as churches and constituency councils in promoting the meetings.?? Furthermore, at each event informational brochures on the subject of TIP have been made available to participants and a ???before and after??? questionnaire has been distributed at the meetings for evaluation purposes. ???? ??
TIP Training for Frontline Officers
Continuous training for frontline workers is deemed as crucial to ensuring that human trafficking is readily detected and prosecuted and that victims receive urgent and satisfactory care and attention. Consequently, the Bureau of Gender Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a training workshop for approximately 40 frontline workers from September 10 to 12, 2012.
The focus of the training was on law enforcement and prosecution and hence the majority of participants were drawn from:
The Royal Barbados Police Force;
The Immigration Department;
The Barbados Defence Force, inclusive of Coast Guard officials;
Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions;
Ministry of Health;
Child Care Board is anticipated.
Other participants included all other ministries and agencies represented on the TIP National Task Force.
Suspected Human Trafficking Case
On July 3, 2012 a Jamaican national contacted and visited the Bureau of Gender Affairs alleging that she had been trafficked. In keeping with the approved ???Interim Procedures for Responding to Suspected Instances of Trafficking??? she was assessed and was referred to the BPW to ensure that she received the necessary support and services for her comfort, safety and protection.
At her request she has since returned to her native country through the assistance of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The RBPF was involved in the process from the inception and their investigations are on-going.
Notably, while there appears to be considerable anecdotal information regarding instances of Human Trafficking in Barbados, there is need for formal research in order to adequately assess the human trafficking situation in Barbados.
Completion of Activities on National Work Plan
High-Level Round Table
A High-Level Round Table was held on the December 19, 2012. The objective of the Round Table was to increase the capacity of senior members of the Government. Permanent and Deputy Permanent Secretaries, Senior Administrative Officers were, therefore, invited to the Round Table.
This mandate of the Task Force, among other things, was the development of a National Plan for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons which will outline Barbados??? overall response to combat trafficking, including the procedures to be followed in suspected trafficking cases. In keeping with its primary mandate the TIP National Task Force has developed a National Plan for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons.
The Guidelines identify and seek to resolve some of the outstanding measures necessary for Barbados to meet the minimum requirements in reaching its national and international obligations to protect victims and prevent trafficking.
The Guidelines were created after several consultations with members of the Task Force.?? These represent a series of steps and responsibilities of several agencies of Government and Barbados??? commitment to the Convention, that was signed and ratified.
The Guidelines now replaced ???Interim Procedures for Responding to Suspected Instances of Trafficking???. Measures that were put in place at the establishment of the National Task Force and completes the Work Plan of 2012.