Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Let's fight modern-day slavery together

Published:Monday | January 18, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Ex-colonel of the Accompong Maroons, J.W. Robertson (left), poses with the then present colonel, M.L. Wright, at the door of the latter's shop in Accompong on January 8, 1968 when the Maroons celebrated the anniversary of their peace treaty with the British. American civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, who is being celebrated in the US today and in whose honour Luis Moreno writes, was murdered in 1968.

In honour of Martin Luther King Jr Day, here is United States ambassador to Jamaica, Luis G. Moreno's, remarks at the 278th anniversary celebration of the signing of the Maroon peace treaty on January 6, 2016.

Let me start by once again extending a hand of friendship on behalf of President Obama and the American people to the Maroons, whose unique cultural heritage we honour and cherish. Though the Maroon peace treaty was written in a different time and context, I think Section 14, which calls for two British men to live with the Maroons "in order to maintain a friendly correspondence with the inhabitants of this island," closely resembles the goals of modern diplomatic missions.

It is my privilege as ambassador, along with my team at the US Embassy in Kingston, to further strengthen our partnership with the Jamaican people and Government, including Maroon communities.

However, I would like to take this opportunity to present a call to action for all Jamaicans, but specifically for Maroons, who embody a powerful historical narrative. Theirs is the story of resistance to slavery, the struggle for independence, and the willingness to stand up for what is right. These ideals are for any people who face abuse, degradation and who are robbed of their liberty, health and prosperity.

Today, there is a cruel injustice which all governments - in the United States, Jamaica, and around world - are working to combat: modern-day slavery. This criminal and despicable act, also called trafficking in persons, takes many horrible forms: young girls forced into commercial prostitution in brothels or subjugated to local dons, labourers forced to work long hours in excruciating conditions for substandard or no pay, and young women sent to live with a relative only to do nothing other than domestic servitude.




As in every country in the world, trafficking in persons occurs right in our midst, and we have a responsibility to identify it, inform the authorities, help protect victims, and bring to justice those who perpetrate this terrible crime. No country has solved this issue and the United States and Jamaica continue to work in partnership to develop the necessary judicial and law-enforcement mechanisms to crush this practice and bring an end to the global trade.

Maroons have a unique voice to lend to this fight, and I call on each Maroon battalion to take a lead in the fight against modern-day slavery in Jamaica. However, it falls on all of us to do our part to eliminate this scourge.

Congratulations to the Maroons on 278 years since the peace treaty signing. We look forward to future celebrations and to strengthening the time-honoured friendship between the American people and the Maroons.

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