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US sees positive signs in Ja's fight against human trafficking

Published:Saturday | April 16, 2016 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Moreno

United States Ambassador Luis G. Moreno has expressed optimism that Jamaica is moving in the right direction in the fight against human trafficking.

"There have been some positive signs that give us cause for optimism," Moreno told journalists yesterday, following a meeting with Labour and Social Security Minister Shahine Robinson and her team.

"We are not the ones who make the decision. We simply find out what the facts are and write the report, then send it to an autonomous independent group in Washington which makes the final call," he added.

Moreno suggested that recent arrests and conviction in relation to human-trafficking violations in Jamaica may have been the breakthroughs needed as far as the entire process was concerned.

 

FIRST CONVICTION

 

With several human trafficking cases before the courts, Jamaica recorded its first conviction for human trafficking last month. The conviction came after intense investigations.

"We hope that the judicial system will come through and the people who are convicted of this horrendous crime receive substantive sentences consistent with the type of crime, and that would go a long way in making the argument that Jamaica should be removed from that tier," said Moreno.

Bion Bliss, economic officer at the US Embassy, noted that the new ranking for 2016 was yet to be determined, but warned that a third showing on the Tier 2 watch list for child labour and human trafficking could spell disaster for Jamaica.

"For the last two years, Jamaica has been on the Tier 2 watch list, and if it were to be placed on that list for the third year, it would automatically be relegated to Tier 3, but the process is ongoing," he said.

 

DEEP DISAPPOINTMENT

 

Following last year's report, the Jamaican Government registered "deep disappointment" with aspects of the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report of the United States State Department with the continuation of the Tier 2 watch list ranking which Jamaica received last year.

The report stated that "Jamaica does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so."

Nevertheless, Jamaica's Tier 2 watch list ranking has remained unchanged because "the Government did not demonstrate evidence of overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous period".