The Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development has expressed concerns about the use of its forest for trafficking in persons.
On June 13, Iwokrama said two buses passed groups of foreigners who most likely came from Brazil.
Then on July 6, 2020 at its ranger station at Corkwood, the police found three illegal Brazilians on a bus. As such, the bus was turned back and the illegal persons were dropped off at Oasis restaurant and the bus turned back and continued to Georgetown.
In another instance, Iwokrama staffers unearthed yet another very disturbing development within the Iwokrama Forest – secret ways of bypassing the monitoring stations and getting illegals past the Police at Corkwood and Kurupukari.
A few days later, two persons were caught coming out of one of these trails – one Brazilian and one Guyanese. They were handed over to police, and the Brazilian has since been deported. Investigations are continuing on the detained Guyanese to assess whether or not he was a trafficker or a guide.
Iwokrama said its management is taking this situation very seriously as trafficking of illegal persons is criminal and poses a serious health risk to community residents, but also residents of Georgetown and further afield.
It added that the COVID-19 health situation is very serious, and as such Iwokrama’s management is requesting that transport providers be very careful and pay attention to the situation at hand.
In light of the recent developments, Iwokrama’s management along with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Public Health Ministry will be closely monitoring all vehicles passing through the forest.
“If found culpable of bringing illegal persons through the Iwokrama Forest or engaging in any other illegal activity, we will be working with these authorities to ban these vehicles from passing through the Iwokrama Forest for at least three months in the first instance,” Iwokrama stated.
Meanwhile, the Health and Citizenship Ministries will also be taking action as well so that those passengers and traffickers will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.
“Further infractions will lead to more draconian action, including a permanent ban of such vehicles from entering the Iwokrama Forest,” the missive noted.