GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday January 20, 2017 – People involved in human trafficking in Guyana have been put on notice: Authorities are coming after you and will not stop until you are brought to justice.
The government has rolled out a new multi-million dollar strategy which it expects will lead to a dramatic decline in cases over the next two years.
Against the backdrop of an increase in reported incidents, coordinator of the Counter-Trafficking Unit Tanisha Williams-Corbin told the launch of the 2017-2018 National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Response to Trafficking In Persons: “We will increase the number of arrests, charges and convictions of alleged TIP (Trafficking In Persons) perpetrators by 300 per cent.”
Demerara Waves online reported that Guyana recorded 40 TIP cases in 2014; a 47 per cent increase in 2015 and a 145 per cent increase in 2016. Of the 197 persons trafficked during the 2014-2016 period, 89 per cent were females and 89 percent were 32 years and younger.
The majority of the victims were Guyanese, with non-nationals accounting for 41 per cent. Williams-Corbin told the gathering that 44.2 per cent of TIP occurred during the period under review in Region Four and 22.3 percent in Region 7.
“The analytical data is clear. There is an increase in the number of reported cases reaching authorities. It reflects that the number of identified victims is on the increase,” the TIP official said.
Under the GUY$22 million (US$105,683) plan, law enforcers will boost their surveillance – monitoring the operations of suspected hotspots including bars, night clubs, massage rooms, modelling/art agencies, mining camps and other businesses.
“We have this year started the establishment of a corps of wardens and these wardens would be going into mining and logging settlements and along border areas where trafficking has been prevalent,” President David Granger said.
He vowed that his administration would not follow in the footsteps of the former People’s Progressive Party government, which he claimed dodged the problem, and he assured that perpetrators would face the full brunt of the law while victims would be protected.
“The Government of Guyana today is committed to reversing this indifference towards the crime of trafficking in persons. We will do so by enhancing education and strengthening enforcement in order to eliminate the scourge entirely,” he said.
In this regard, personnel at the heart of fighting the crime are in line to receive intense training, including 20 police officers to investigate TIP and interview alleged victims; 15 magistrates and attorneys/police prosecutors in prosecuting TIP cases; 10 immigration officers in TIP profiling at ports; and 10 officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines.
United States Ambassador Perry Holloway has wholeheartedly endorsed the plan, noting that Guyana had improved its ranking in the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report in 2016, moving from the watch list to Tier Two which includes countries that are making significant strides to meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Acts.
He pledged that Washington would lend a helping hand by bringing in a team of experts from the International Organization of Migration to train front officials engaged in the daily fight.