To the rescue! - Justice ministry launches premiere to highlight human trafficking
The horrors of the trafficking in humans were sketched out by permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Carol Palmer, who is also chair of the National Task Force in Human Trafficking, at the in-house launch of a documentary on the subject at the MOJ last Wednesday.
The official premiere for the public was held at the ministry last Friday.
In her impassioned, impromptu speech to MOJ staff, as well as some of the artistic and technical people who created the 35-minute docudrama, Rescue, Palmer said the most common type of trafficking in Jamaica involved the sexual exploitation of young girls. Boys are most frequently trafficked for labour, she added.
"I hear things have started up again in Culloden," she said, referring to the weekly auctioning off of young people which reportedly took place in that Westmoreland community some years ago. "They want to catch children - boy or girl," Palmer continued," and a lot of the recruiting is now taking place through social media."
She marvelled that users take the risk of putting so much personal information in cyberspace. "Why do you have to put on social media what clothes you have on, where you're going?" she asked.
Stating that trafficking is organised crime involving billions of US dollars annually, she mentioned recent cases of international trafficking between Jamaica and St Maarten, The Bahamas and Guyana, and a 2016 case involving a 14-year-old Haitian girl being brought to Jamaica by a Jamaican fisherman who was later convicted of enslaving and abusing her.
Palmer related that when she met the Haitian girl and heard her speak of her experiences, "it was," she said, touching her chest, "like everything was pulled out of me, for it could've been my child. She was brought here with a promise of good schooling. And the terrible thing is, she was impregnated and her mother disowned her (when she was returned to Haiti)."
Urging well-thinking citizens to be on the look-out for suspicious signs, Palmer said, "Trafficking is everybody's business. The police cannot be everywhere. We must speak out for the country's sake."
She said Rescue will be taken "on the road," and shown around Jamaica.