Attorney General, Dale Marshall in discussion with US Ambassador to Barbados, Linda Taglialatela, following the launch of the Human Trafficking Sensitisation Campaign yesterday. Looking on is Permanent Secretary in the Attorney General’s Office, Yvette Goddard. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

US Ambassador to Barbados, Linda Taglialatela, has described human trafficking as a global problem and one of the most serious transnational crimes under international law.

Ms. Taglialatela expressed this view on Wednesday as she delivered remarks at the launch of the Human Trafficking Sensitisation Campaign, at the Joint Regional Communications Centre’s Conference Room, at Wildey Business Park, Wildey, St. Michael.

The US Ambassador noted that yearly, thousands of men, women and children were victimised through the “unscrupulous actions” of human traffickers around the world.

“As a result, all of us have a responsibility for meeting the needs of victims, and also for deterring, identifying and prosecuting instances of human trafficking…. I am hopeful that we will continue to making progress to address human trafficking with the strong leadership of the Government of Barbados and other partners here today.

“The well-being of vulnerable men, women and children is at stake, and requires a steadfast commitment to keeping them safe from those who are bent on their exploitation,” she told the in-person and online gathering.

Ms. Taglialatela said the public education and awareness materials, including the jingle and logo, were important tools to assist local efforts in eliminating human trafficking.

Deputy Resident Representative of the UNDP, Ugo Blanco, opined that trafficking in persons was the new form of slavery, and stressed that it must be eradicated.

“The greedy and evil perpetrators of this inhumane crime treat men, women and children as expendable, profitable commodities, used for the purpose of financial gains. Human trafficking has become one of the fastest growing and most lucrative activities in the world, and the Caribbean is not an exception,” Mr. Blanco stated.

He expressed the view that a concerted effort by Government, partners and communities was required to wipe out human trafficking, and lauded Government’s sensitisation campaign, saying it was “most important”.

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Ugo Blanco, chatting with entertainer Edwin Yearwood at yesterday’s campaign launch. Mr. Yearwood will be working with the Prevention Sub-committee of the Task Force on Human Trafficking on further public education and sensitisation outreach activities, including going into schools. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Stating that Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean were characterised by dynamic migration flows, he noted that human trafficking was a growing concern.

“While the convention and protocols are in place in Barbados and the Caribbean, there is still much work to do, as we can see as a result of the survey, to identify, prevent and prosecute offenders,” he indicated.

Mr. Blanco pointed out that 51 officers of the Barbados Police Service had received basic training in trafficking in persons and a further 22 participated in advanced training. However, he stressed that more work still needed to be done.

Meanwhile, Senior Research Officer at the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit, Kim Ramsay, said a Trafficking In Persons Public Survey was conducted for Government in 2021, by Professor Dwayne Devonish.

Ms. Ramsay said the findings suggested that there was a broad-based and general lack of knowledge by many Barbadians about the state-led legislation, policies and interventions in place to tackle human trafficking at different levels in the country.

“Barbadians were predominantly unaware of the source and destination status concerning human trafficking. In the Trafficking In Persons’ Report, which can be found on the US State Department’s website, Barbados has been ranked as a source and destination country of human trafficking….

“When we asked Barbadians if they knew this, persons were aware and some were surprised Barbados was placed on a Tier 2 Watch List as a source and destination country,” she stated.

Ms. Ramsay added that based on the information from the respondents, an intense public relations campaign was being rolled out, utilising public service announcements, and school and community outreach activities, among others.

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