Belize urged to punish human traffickers and assist victims

NEW YORK, United States, Tuesday December 24, 2013, CMC – An independent United Nations human rights expert has called on the Government of Belize to adopt a comprehensive programme to protect and assist victims of trafficking and to ensure that the perpetrators of this scourge are punished.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Friday said Belize is “a country of destination, transit and, to a limited degree, of origin, where human trafficking disproportionately affects women who are mainly trafficked for sexual exploitation – particularly women from the neighbouring countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.”

Wrapping up her official visit to Belize, UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, said Belize should avoid a “repressive” immigration policy that compounds the problem of human trafficking and undermines efforts at combating and preventing the phenomenon and providing holistic assistance to the victims.

Ezeilo also cited a “growing problem” of crimes against children, especially sexual exploitation of young girls from poor families through the “sugar daddy” syndrome and “fichería” in bars, where men pay a higher price to drink with the girls (“ficheras”), a practice identified as a prelude to prostitution.

She also welcomed Belize’s ratification of key human rights treaties and its adoption of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Act, but voiced concern about the capacity and the willingness to identify trafficked persons and potential victims of trafficking, especially those in mixed migration situations. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)