GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thursday June 29, 2017 – Guyana has made significant advances in the fight against human trafficking, and its efforts have earned it a Tier 1 ranking in the US State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.
Still, the country is not out of the woods just yet, with Washington advising the country to pay special attention to several areas.
In the report, which lauded the Guyana government for making several “ key achievements” over the last two years, Washington said it was satisfied with the country’s 2017-2018 national action plan for combating trafficking in persons; increasing the number of investigations, prosecutions, and convictions; and identifying and assisting more victims for the second year in a row.
Guyana also received credit for increasing its law enforcement efforts and adding three new officers to the Anti-Trafficking Unit of the Ministry of Social Protection to plan and execute the unit’s site visits and victim-extrication exercises.
The positive rating is a big deal for Georgetown which had sunk to Tier 3 – the lowest ranking – back in July 2015.
At the time, there were fears that Guyana would have been slapped with serious sanctions such as the withholding of US financial aid and the blocking of funding to Guyana at the level of international financial assistance, such as the World Bank.
Despite the turnaround US authorities are concerned that not enough attention is being paid to troubling areas outside of the capital, Georgetown.
“Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not increase protection and services for victims outside the capital or provide adequate protection and shelter for child and male victims,” states the 2017 TIP Report.
The State Department also took issue with Guyana’s failure to keep its promise to build a shelter for males and children who have been trafficked.
“There were no adequate public or private shelters for male or child trafficking victims, despite the government’s commitment, made in early 2016, to open and partially fund a shelter for male victims,” it pointed out.
The TIP report recommends that Guyana fund specialized victim services such as those offered by non-governmental organizations, including for child victims and adult male victims.
Guyana is also being called on to vigorously investigate and prosecute sex and labour trafficking cases.
The US State Department has also advised Guyana to provide more training for law enforcement and judicial officials, and frontline responders, as it ramps up its fight against human trafficking.