Region urged to work together  in fight against human trafficking
July 19, 2013

Region urged to work together in fight against human trafficking

The third and final chapter in a series of workshops aimed at strengthening the region’s fight against human trafficking was held here this week.{{more}}

On Wednesday, delegates from five Caribbean countries gathered at the Sunset Shores Hotel conference room in Villa, for two days of capacity building, designed to monitor and combat trafficking of persons.

Chissey Mueller, project manager of the Trinidad based International Organization for Migration (IOM), speaking at a brief opening ceremony on Wednesday, told the participants that the third leg of the meetings was geared towards strengthening integration among the national, bilateral and regional counterparts.

“As you are well aware, human trafficking is a violation of human rights and a crime that affects us all.

“The countries represented in this room are at different points in their counter trafficking response, with each having its strengths and its challenges,” Mueller said.

At the previous meetings, the first held in Jamaica in January this year, delegates learned how to collect, analyze and share data on human trafficking, specifically, data regarding the victims of trafficking and the traffickers.

Mueller said that the group came to a consensus that data played a critical role in supporting and guiding efforts to prevent trafficking, protect the victims and prosecute the perpetrators of trafficking.

“When we came together in April in Antigua and Barbuda, we added to our foundation, knowledge about how a national plan of action can help institutionalize and help monitor our efforts; at the same time we learned that the development and implementation of a national plan of action is no easy task, and requires a long term commitment and financial resources,” Mueller noted.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Douglas Slater, also speaking at the opening, acknowledged the importance of the discussions that were set to take place, and recognized that there is an increased need for regional and global partnerships to be established, in light of what he called the growing phenomenon of migration around the world.

Slater stated that with the opportunities and challenges migration presents, there is a need for countries to be vigilant in protecting their borders, and said that combating human trafficking has to be a global effort.

“In order to ensure that this crime does not ravage our hemisphere pretty much the way drug trafficking has, governments are confronted with the obligation to allocate already very scarce resources to deal with the challenges which come with migration.

“St Vincent and the Grenadines regards the IOM as an essential partner in this global endeavour,” Slater pointed out.

“St Vincent and the Grenadines has been an engaged partner, working with several multinational organizations in order to raise awareness, and enhance our technical capabilities to detect, investigate and prosecute trafficking in persons, whenever and wherever there might be an occurrence of this crime in our borders.” He said that he looked forward to his Government’s continued work with officials of other regions, in the strengthened fight against human trafficking, following the completion of the workshop.

The countries taking part in the workshop are Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines.(JJ)