Sat | May 25, 2019

Possible trafficking link in children’s murders – Chang

Published:Thursday | May 16, 2019 | 12:15 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang

WESTERN BUREAU:

While noting that there is no proof to support his assertion, National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang is of the view that human traffickers could be involved in the number of children, especially girls, who have been murdered across the island in recent times.

Speaking at the opening of the Jamaica Defence Force’s Burke Barracks in Montego Bay, St James, on Tuesday, Chang labelled human trafficking as a major issue across the Caribbean, saying it was now at a worrisome level.

“Emerging, of course, unfortunately in the Caribbean, is the issue of human trafficking. We are seeing recent challenges of a number of young ladies, particularly children, who have been murdered,” said Chang.

Over the last four weeks, the nation has been rocked with the discoveries of the bodies of three schoolgirls, who were brutally murdered and their bodies discarded. The latest victim is 17-year-old Stefica Smith, a student of May Pen High School in Clarendon, whose body was found in the mid-island parish on Monday.

“While the violence itself is reprehensible, there is a concern that maybe some of the violence against our young women [involve] the [human] traffickers and here we have to focus on the requirement of our coordinated effort in our security elements,” said Chang.

On April 16, eight-year-old Shantae Skyers was found murdered in St Andrew, while the body of 11-year-old Tricia Morris was discovered in Hanover on April 30. Both had been missing for several days before their bodies were found.

Speaking with The Gleaner following the function, Chang said while he could not confirm that the schoolgirls were killed by human traffickers, the nature of the murders was a cause for great concern.

“There seems to be a kind of callous, insensitive thing in regard to attacks on our children, but in particular young women. I cannot say at this point that all of them are associated with human trafficking, but that is emerging as a major problem,” the national security minister said.

“It is something that we are concerned about and I am having discussions with both the security forces – the police primarily – to see to what extent we can improve our capacity to deal with that kind of problem. We also have to engage in some very positive activities in terms of seeking to reduce our tendency for individuals to resort to violence in relationships,” added Chang.