The Annual Report of the Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2016 has found that the profiles of suspected perpetrators of TIP were predominantly middle-aged persons who provided entertainment for the public. It was also stated that family members of the alleged victims were often involved in the perpetration of the crime.
The report which was on Wednesday laid in the National Assembly by Minister of Public Security and Chairman of the Task Force, Khemraj Ramjattan, also revealed that there were 98 alleged victims of TIP stemming from 38 reported cases in 2016.
According to a release from the Department of Public Information (DPI) of the 38 reported cases for 2016, 30 were sent for legal advice and 19 TIP charges laid. In contrast, there were 18 reported cases in 2015 and 18 in 2014.
These cases involved 55 alleged perpetrators, up from 32 in 2015 and 26 in 2014.
According to the report, there was one conviction for a case initiated in 2016 and one from 2015. In the first matter, the perpetrator was not sentenced but was ordered to pay $884,000 in restitution to the survivor and fined $50,000. This verdict was appealed by both the state and the perpetrator, Joyce Lawrence.
In the second case, Sharlene Oxley was sentenced to three years in jail and ordered to pay $2M in restitution to the survivor. The verdict was appealed by the perpetrator. In both matters, the perpetrators were related to the survivor.
Analytical data of the cases considered by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) has shown that in 2016 most alleged victims of the crime were females, which accounted for 86.7 percent of the 98 victims.
Females dominated TIP reports from 2014 to 2016 with 89.3 percent, while alleged male victims accounted for 10.7 percent.
For the period 2014-2016, each year saw an increase in the number of alleged victims of TIP in Guyana. However, it is the Task Force’s contention that this increase can be attributed to increased awareness among the general populace.
Statistics for 2014-2016 show that the 12-18 age group was the most vulnerable in Guyana with 36 per cent, closely followed by the 19-25 age group with 34 per cent.
“The general trend was a decrease in the prevalence of alleged trafficking in persons as age groups rose, strongly suggesting that younger individuals were most vulnerable to the crime. However, each of the age groups recorded alleged victims, suggesting that no one was immune”, the report states.
The majority of victims were of Mixed-Race with 52.3 percent falling into this ethnic group. This group, as recorded by the Police statistics was comprised largely of individuals from Latin American countries such as the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Venezuela.
The report went on to state that this ethnic group was followed by the Indigenous People with 24.9 per cent, Afro-Guyanese with 13.7 per cent and Indo-Guyanese with 9.1 per cent.
The majority of incidences of alleged TIP from 2014-2016 occurred in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) with 44.2 per cent, followed by Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) with 22.3 per cent. Other notable locations were Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), Region One (Barima-Waini) and Caribbean countries with 5.6 per cent.
While, Region Four was the area with the most incidences of alleged TIP in 2014 and 2016, in 2015, Region Seven led in this regard with 47.4 per cent.
It should be taken into consideration when comparing the regions with regard to the prevalence of the crime, that Region Four is the most densely populated area in Guyana, with approximately 15 times the population of Region Seven, 31 times the population in Region Eight and 12 times the population of Region One, the report stated.
Interestingly, Police figures indicate that in 2015, the majority of alleged TIP victims in Guyana were from overseas accounting for 52.5 per cent. This figure, according to the report, was 38.8 per cent in 2016, mostly represented by individuals from the Dominican Republic and Brazil.
The report highlights the Government’s awareness of the problem and efforts by supporting entities to combat TIP but also demonstrates that there is a lot of work still to be done.
In the most recent TIP Report, Guyana was elevated from Tier 2 Watchlist to Tier 2, with the Report stating that Guyana did “not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.”
According to the Report of the Ministerial Task Force, Guyana takes these Tier placements seriously and desires that the country be placed on Tier 1 in the near future, which it recognises would require increased efforts and concrete results.
The 2017-2018 National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Response to Trafficking in Persons released in January 2017, is described as an important stepping stone in the fight against TIP.