U.S TIP report flags Guyana over lack of protection for victims outside Georgetown

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Although the Guyana government fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, it did not provide adequate protection and shelter outside of the capital city or for child and male victims.

This is according to the U.S Department of State 2019 Trafficking in Person (TIP) report released on Thursday last. The report stated that Guyana has remained on Tier 1 and continues to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period.

It noted that in Guyana, the number of trafficking investigations and new prosecutions decreased and that the number of successful convictions remained low. As such, it has been recommended that the government finalise, implement, and train law enforcement officials and front-line responders in written victim assistance, victim identification and referral procedures, fund specialized victim services, particularly for child, adult male, and Venezuelan victims.

The report also recommends that the Guyana government “vigorously investigate and prosecute sex and labour trafficking cases, including those involving child victims, hold convicted traffickers, including complicit public officials, accountable by imposing strong sentences, hold police and law enforcement officials accountable for intimidation of victims in shelters including restricted movement, lack of access to family visits, or telephone services., provide additional protection for victims to testify against traffickers in a way that minimises re-traumatisation and to investigate and report on the cases reported to the trafficking hotline and by labor inspectors.”

Furthermore, the U.S. report acknowledged that there has been a demonstration of serious and sustained efforts by increasing funding for victim assistance, identifying and assisting more victims for the third consecutive year, and opening and operating a trafficking shelter outside of the capital area.

However, it was noted that victim assistance remains a concern especially in areas outside of Georgetown and for Venezuelans child and male victims living in the outskirts in spite of the administration increasing its efforts to identify and protect victims, country-wide.

According to the report, last year in Guyana, there were 156 victims identified (106 for sex trafficking and 50 for labour trafficking) in comparison to 2017’s statistics of 131 victims.

In response to the US report, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, on Friday said that the Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons accepts the Tier 1 Placement and believes it is testament to the work of the Task Force, Guyana’s anti-trafficking units, non-governmental organisations, the general public through increased reporting and significant contributions made by partners beyond the shores of this Cooperative Republic, including the United States Department of State itself.

“Guyana’s Tier 1 Placement in the most recent edition of the Report makes the third straight year that the country’s efforts to combat the crime have been so recognized. However, the Report did include a number of recommendations for improvement. The Government of Guyana intends to heed these as it has done for recommendations in past reports,” he stated.