By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The United States Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2014 report has revealed that the Guyana government has made limited progress in holding traffickers accountable.
In the report, which was released today, Friday June 20, it was revealed that Guyana is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.
“Guyanese and foreign women and girls—including from Venezuela, Suriname, and Brazil—are subjected to prostitution in Guyana.”
It was noted that while the full extent of forced labor is unknown, there have been reports of forced labor in the mining, agriculture, and forestry sectors, as well as in domestic service and shops.
“Traffickers are attracted to Guyana’s interior mining communities where there is limited government control, but Guyanese and foreign nationals are also vulnerable to trafficking in urban centers and elsewhere in the country. Children are particularly vulnerable to forced labor. Guyanese nationals are subjected to human trafficking in other countries in the Caribbean region.”
According to the TIP Report, the government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.
The report noted that the government’s Ministry of Labour, Human Services, and Social Security (human services ministry) demonstrated concrete efforts to assist trafficking victims.
However, despite these efforts, the report stated that the government did not demonstrate evidence of overall increasing efforts to address human trafficking over the previous reporting period.
As such, Guyana is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. While Guyana has an adequate trafficking law and achieved three trafficking convictions during the reporting period, all three convicted traffickers were released on bail pending the appeal of their convictions.
According to the report, “The Government of Guyana did not provide information regarding the basis on which the defendants sought to appeal their convictions or on which the court determined to grant them bail. The inability to hold traffickers accountable creates an enabling environment for human trafficking. Trafficking victims have accused police officers and other government employees of cooperating with traffickers.”
The US recommends that Guyana boost efforts to hold trafficking offenders accountable by vigorously investigating and prosecuting forced prostitution and forced labor cases, including those involving complicit officials; provide funding for NGOs to identify and assist victims; develop child-sensitive investigation procedures to reduce additional harm to victims, and develop court procedures that protect the privacy of children and minimize the emotional trauma of providing testimony.