TIP Report: Gov’t efforts to protect victims inadequate

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[www.inewsguyana.com]The United States Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2014 report  while lauding the Guyana Government’s efforts to protect victims of trafficking, cited the continued lack of accountability for perpetrators which is believed to further endanger victims.

The report, which was released yesterday, Friday June 20 recalled that the Human Services Ministry reported identifying 23 victims in 2013, including 10 children, five male labor trafficking victims and 18 sex trafficking victims.

TipWhile in 2012 there were 19 girls, two boys, three women, and two adult men identified.

The Report pointed out however, that one Non – Governmental Organization (NGO) reported rescuing 29 victims, mostly children, in 2013 and additional victims in 2014.

“The human services ministry reported that 16 victims consented to be referred to care facilities during the reporting period. Government-provided services reportedly consisted of psycho-social support, basic medical care, transportation, and some assistance for victims’ reintegration, but sources claimed that government resources devoted to victim protection were inadequate.”

The report recalled that there were reports that authorities failed to provide assistance specific to the needs of trafficking survivors, and that victims who had been rescued were re-trafficked or became homeless after they did not receive adequate protection services from the government.

“An NGO operated a shelter for victims of domestic violence, as well as a safe home for children in the capital that reportedly provided assistance to trafficking victims during the reporting period. The shelter received a government subsidy of the equivalent of approximately $14,800.”

The government reported paid the equivalent of approximately $1,452 for alternative accommodation for three victims and provided specialized care for adult male victims.

Donor-funded organizations provided much of the support for victims. In areas outside of the capital, the report observed.

“NGOs provided shelter and assistance to trafficking victims, often in dangerous conditions, without any funding from the government. Longer-term shelter and protection was not available in Guyana, putting victims at risk of traffickers’ reprisals, as the government also failed to punish most traffickers with incarceration. Stakeholders reported that there were still no clear, written, government-wide operating procedures to guide officials in handling human trafficking cases in coordination with NGO partners.”

According to the Report, While Guyana’s law contains incentives to encourage victims to participate in the prosecution of traffickers, including protection from punishment for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to human trafficking, in practice victims often did not testify in court.

Adding that, the government made minimal efforts to prevent trafficking. “The government’s ministerial taskforce was designated to monitor and assess the government’s anti-trafficking efforts, but it did not report any results.”

“A leading NGO that has played a significant role in rescuing trafficking victims requested to be one of the NGO partners on the ministerial anti-trafficking taskforce; however the taskforce has yet to grant this request despite this organization’s critical role in the protection of victims.”

The government reportedly provided in-kind support to a UNDP funded program to raise awareness about human trafficking and provide communities with a government-operated trafficking hotline number. The government did not report how many calls the hotline received. Officials did not report any measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor during the reporting period. 

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