Task Force Set Up To Pre-Empt Human Trafficking

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Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley

Government has established a National Task Force for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons.

The 13-member body will be chaired by Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, and will include representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, and Family, Culture, Sports and Youth. Officials from the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Immigration Department, the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Barbados and the Barbados Red Cross will also sit on the committee.

Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, explained that the Task Force’s mandate included coordinating Barbados’ anti-trafficking activities and developing and overseeing the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons. "This Plan will outline Barbados’ overall response to combat trafficking in persons, including the procedures to be followed in suspected trafficking cases," he said.

According to him, the group would also establish policies to enable Government to work with non-governmental organisations and other sectors of civil society to prevent trafficking and provide assistance to victims. "It will also coordinate and provide training for law enforcement, immigration and other relevant officials; as well as identify and engage in efforts to facilitate cooperation with foreign countries, with a view to

strengthening our resolve and capacity to prevent trafficking, assist victims, prosecute traffickers and assist in the appropriate repatriation of victims of trafficking," Mr. Lashley stated.

He promised that efforts would be made to cooperate with those countries which "are a transit location, a significant source of victims or a destination for victims".

Barbados signed the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, on September 26, 2001.

Human trafficking is a crime in which traffickers profit from the exploitation of individuals, who are lured to places where they can be controlled. Victims are promised a better life and good jobs, but then forced into dangerous, illegal or abusive work. Human trafficking is a rapidly expanding global phenomenon. It is said to have many faces, including domestic servitude, forced labour and sexual slavery.

Over the years, the Bureau of Gender Affairs and its stakeholders have sensitised the public about the issue of human trafficking.?? Indeed, in recent times it has scaled up its awareness programme, including developing a draft protocol which outlines the procedures for dealing with victims of human trafficking.

Barbados has been identified in the USA’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report since 2009, as both a source and destination country for men and women who are trafficked for the purpose of sexual and labour exploitation.

Therefore, Government has intensified its efforts to eradicate any semblance of human trafficking, and has implemented a number of measures, including the enactment of the Transnational Organised Crime (Prevention and Control) Act, 2011-13, which was proclaimed on January 16, 2012.

This Act has created the legal framework for criminalising the offences of human trafficking and smuggling, with custodial sentences and monetary fines specified for these crimes. The proclamation means that the island has now met its obligations under the United Nations Convention and its protocols, to which Barbados is a signatory.

So, Government will continue to put the necessary mechanisms in place to ensure the country can effectively respond to any suspected cases of human trafficking.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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