Antiguan awarded for fighting human trafficking
WASHINGTON, United States, Wednesday June 29, 2011 – Longtime advocate for women's rights and the executive director of Antigua & Barbuda's Gender Affairs Directorate Sheila Roseau has been named a Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report hero for her efforts in fighting human trafficking, while the country has been told it still has work to do in stamping out the scourge.
Roseau received the award from US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as the US State Department released its 2011 TIP Report.
In 2010, Roseau was a driving force behind the passage of the country's first law that provides criminal penalties for human traffickers and extensive protections for victims. After steering the drafting of the legislation and lobbying for its passage, Roseau now champions its ongoing implementation.
“The strength of Ms. Roseau's personality and the depth of her convictions have helped her projects succeed despite working in a challenging environment with serious limitations in resources,” the State Department said.
“Yet she remains dedicated, energetic and enthusiastic and because of her continued leadership, trafficking victims in Antigua & Barbuda now have legal protections.”
The State Department pointed out that Roseau and her dedicated team have established a cross-departmental coalition to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts within the government, rolled out an information campaign tailored to the local context, and set up a public-private partnership for sheltering victims that specifically addresses the challenges of small-island privacy issues.
“Prior to 2010, she assisted trafficking victims, including one foreign child, who is now an adult integrated into Antiguan society thanks to Ms. Roseau's help,” it noted, adding that this is one of the only reported long-term assistance programmes granted to a foreign trafficking victim by a government in the region.
In congratulating Roseau and the other awardees, Secretary Clinton stressed that individual action can lead to some astounding results.
“When we hear the stories of the TIP heroes, we know that it’s not hopeless, we know that it is not overwhelming, we know that person by person, we can make a difference,” she said.
Antigua and Barbuda remains in Tier 2 in the TIP report, which means that it has still does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but, it is making significant efforts to do so.
The report stated that Antigua and Barbuda is still a destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour, with legal and illegal immigrants from Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Guyana reportedly representing the population most vulnerable to trafficking.
It said that forced prostitution reportedly occurs in bars and brothels and there have also been incidences of forced domestic service and persons forced to work on farm lands or to sell clothing.
However, it noted that the government made substantial progress during the past year by enacting legislation that prohibits all forms of trafficking and provides explicit and extensive victim protection measures.
“The government also identified and assisted victims, and conducted prevention activities,” the reported noted, adding that while the government initiated some trafficking investigations, including one into potential police complicity, it did not report any prosecutions, convictions, or punishment of trafficking offenders over the past year.
The report recommends that adequate funding be provided to implement the new Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Act 2010; that government continue identifying and assisting victims in accordance with the Act; an increase in training for law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges on addressing forced prostitution and forced labour; and that authorities vigorously prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders, including officials complicit in human trafficking.
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