Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo

Government has been working assiduously to ensure that the relevant systems are put in place to deal with human trafficking.??

That is the word from Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who disclosed that legislation was currently being prepared to address this issue, and meetings were planned for later this week with key stakeholders to finalise the draft protocol for the treatment of victims of human trafficking.

She was responding to recent reports in the media which suggested that Barbados has been listed on the Tier Two category in the United States’ Report on Trafficking in Persons. Tier Two applies to "countries considered to be making minimal efforts to satisfy the United Nations’ anti-trafficking in persons’ requirement".????????

But, Dr. Byer Suckoo has countered those allegations, saying: "Government has privately and publicly expressed its abhorrence of this heinous crime. The gravity and inhumane nature of this practice demands that we attack it on all fronts. We have to remain ahead of those unprincipled persons, so as to prevent human trafficking from occurring here, but if it does, we have to ensure mechanisms are in place to assist those victims.

"The Bureau of Gender Affairs will be meeting with four major sectors that impact on human trafficking to finalise the protocol, before submission to the Ministry of Family for ratification. They will meet with officials in the areas of law enforcement and social services, non-governmental organisations and other government departments to analyse their responsibilities under the draft protocol and determine whether they have any challenges in meeting the stated commitments," the Minister stated.

According to her, the exercise "aims to ensure that victims of human trafficking are not denied humanitarian support".

Some of the agencies to be represented at the meetings include the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Immigration Department, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Welfare Department, the Child Care Board, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the Labour Department, The Community Development Department, the Business and Professional Women’s Club, the National Organisation of Women, the Men’s Educational Support Association, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, and the Barbados Association of Journalists.

Barbados has signed, but not ratified, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. This protocol supplements the United Nations Convention against Trans-national Organised Crime.

Human trafficking has been described as "a modern day form of slavery" and "the most compelling human rights challenge in our time". It has been linked to international organised crime networks and has been classified as the third most profitable illegal industry, next to the arms and narcotics trade.

Minister Byer Suckoo reiterated that "Barbados is prepared to cooperate with countries and enter into arrangements to protect the welfare of victims, punish traffickers, and preserve its reputation as a promoter of human rights".

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