With 21 cases of trafficking in persons recorded for the year so far, traffic ranks of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) were on Thursday trained to identify and respond to suspected incidents.
During the opening ceremony of the training exercise, Police Commissioner Leslie James revealed that from the 21 cases, there were 144 victims.
Of the 144 victims, a whopping 142 were sexually exploited. One person was exploited for labour purposes.
“…made to work under slave-like conditions,” the Police Commissioner explained.
And, of the victims, 12 were Guyanese, four were Dominicans, three Cubans and 124 were Venezuelans.
The Top Cop revealed that to date, there have been 30 charges with 8 convictions.
The training is being coordinated by the Ministry of Social Protection’s Counter Trafficking in Persons’ Unit.
Commissioner James urged ranks to pay special attention to suspicious activities when on duty.
“You, the traffic ranks, are the persons who will engage directly with the motorists … so while you are on the road, part of your duty, you can cause those vehicles to be checked,” the Police Commissioner stated.
Unit Coordinator Tanisha Williams-Corbin said the training is a first for Guyana.
She also underscored the importance of getting traffic ranks involved in the fight against this crime.
“Victims of trafficking in Guyana, given our geographical makeup, must traverse our roadways at some point, whether to or from their places of exploitation or on a journey to provide some service or receive some service. Therefore, it is important that you are provided with the relevant skills to be able to identify, assist and refer appropriately suspected cases,” she explained.
Guyana is ranked Tier 1 on the US State Department report on TIP as a result of its efforts to tackle the scourge.
Commissioner of Police Leslie James said he wants the country to remain at this position. However, he noted that where there is work to be done, the Police Force will spare no effort in helping to wipe out the scourge completely.
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan had announced that in 2018, some 243 persons were trafficked locally.
“There were 243 victims and on one occasion, they [officials] went to a club…39 were found in small rooms, obviously the presumption [was] that they were being trafficked, and of course alleged victims under 18, you have 11 out of that 243. The suspects involved, if I may breach some confidentiality of the Police here, you have 57 of them,” the Minister divulged.
Minister Ramjattan explained that the regions where these cases were found are from Region Four, specifically Georgetown; Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo).
He added that the countries of origin from which these victims originate have revealed that Venezuela is at the top of the list. He added that 162 of the TIP victims in 2018 are Venezuelans.