Tue | Dec 18, 2018

Most gov't stakeholders unclear about role in human trafficking fight

Published:Thursday | August 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter
Gordon Harrison

Only 20 per cent of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons' (NATFATIP) stakeholders interviewed by the Office of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons were able to articulate their area of responsibility in tackling the crime. Of the 13 interviews conducted during 2016, twelve involved government officials, plus the head of a non-governmental organisation.

This finding is nested in the first official report by Diahann Gordon Harrison, the national rapporteur, which was tabled in the Senate last Friday, following the tabling of an overview - The Underbelly of Human Trafficking: The Jamaican Reality 2018 - two weeks ago. Human trafficking is the movement of people by way of fraud, force, or coercion in a push to exploit them.

The report stated: "Most stakeholders (80 per cent) indicated that their roles within the NATFATIP were subsumed within the respective mandates of their organisation of primary employment.

"However, very few (20 per cent) were able to enunciate specific operating procedures that outlined their role in relation to Jamaica's anti-human trafficking programme.

"A few stakeholders point out the need for greater coordination and synthesis among members of the task force," said the national rapporteur.

In January, standard operating procedures were launched to guide healthcare workers in how they detect and deal with human trafficking victims, but the national rapporteur said that a stronger governmental framework is needed.

"In a bid to assist in the proactive identification and referral of victims, standard operating procedures and inter-agency agreements among the various stakeholders ought to be developed and implemented by the GOJ (Government of Jamaica)," Gordon Harrison advised.

The report added that the Government should provide an avenue for the implementation of new initiatives.

The national rapporteur continued, "... Such an approach should help to ensure more clarity concerning the roles and functions of diverse stakeholders in relation to combating trafficking in persons".

The report also pointed out the need for improved data-collection systems within Government: "In many instances as well, data are not disaggregated to reflect age, gender, type of exploitation, or other qualitative details. This has the potential to undermine efforts at sustained strategic planning."

Jamaica has maintained its Tier 2 ranking in the 2018 United Sates (US) Department of State Trafficking in Persons report, which means that Jamaica has not met the minimum US standards to combat the crime, but the country is making significant efforts to do so.

The national rapporteur also serves as children's advocate and is tasked with monitoring governmental responses to victim protection and the prevention and prosecution of the crime.