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People-smuggling worry escalates! - US, local authorities partner to face down crime worth US$32b

Published:Sunday | January 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

With the strong backing of the United States, authorities in Jamaica are vowing to strengthen their efforts in combating people-smuggling as concerns grow over the shocking scale of the crime in the country.

Even as Jamaica continues to make stride in fighting human trafficking, there remains much work to be done, as smugglers get creative in their methods in perpetuating what is now regarded as modern-day slavery.

"Much great work has been done, lives changed, lives saved, traffickers brought to justice, and yet in Jamaica, the United States and across the world, victims remain and human traffickers continue to commit this crime, and so there is much yet to be done," US diplomat Daniel Walker said at a forum held at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies last Friday, where the topic was in sharp focus.




Currently, Jamaica is listed in the tier 2 rank of countries in the Trafficking in Persons Report published by the US State Department.

According to the report, the country is a source of, and destination for, adults and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.

The victims in these crimes are sold into slavery, often in pop-up brothels, having been promised a better life, labour as sex workers, but are left penniless with few clothes - maybe underwear - while some are forced into marriages, experts discussing the issue pointed out at the forum.

Modern-day slavery is now a US$32-billion-a-year epidemic, second only to weapons trafficking, but poised to eclipse other crimes to be categorised as the most vicious and heinous crime, the experts further noted, with the average of children involved standing at 14.

In Jamaica, some 76 victims of human trafficking have been rescued and four traffickers convicted so far, with more cases set to be placed before the courts.