Fri | May 29, 2020

Ja ramps up campaign to ward off online human traffickers

Published:Friday | February 21, 2020 | 12:06 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter
Carol Palmer, chair of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons.
Carol Palmer, chair of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons.

Jamaican public- and private-sector interests have ramped up sensitisation campaigns to curb the incidence of human trafficking, especially from predators lurking online, says chair of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons, Carol Palmer.

“What is the problem now is that cyberspace is the latest area where this crime has moved to, and so we now have to launch an all-out campaign,” Palmer said.

“We have talked about it a lot, telling young people to be careful on social media, don’t be so interested in likes, and so on, but it has to be more than that, and we have to hear from the young people,” said Palmer.

As part of efforts to increase awareness among children, Palmer said anti-trafficking clubs have already been launched in 15 schools. In addition to this, thousands of Jamaicans are being trained in this area.

“Human trafficking is the fastest-growing crime globally, not in this region, not in Jamaica, globally, and it is organised crime,” she said.

Palmer noted that several agencies continue to collaborate in tackling the problem. They include the police, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency, the Victim Services Division, the prosecution service, and the courts. She also commended the media for helping to create awareness.

“Jamaica has done very well, a lot better than some of our developed country partners in the world,” Palmer said in reflecting on the various efforts to stem this problem.

Jamaica received a Tier 2 ranking in the 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. The US State Department, through the report, noted that while Kingston is “making significant efforts” to deal with TIP, it was not fully meeting the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

Since the report was released, tourism-sector interests have been helping to fund awareness campaigns and to train persons in the industry. The task force has also been getting donations from the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association to help with carrying out its work.

“There is growing awareness in the tourism sector,” Palmer said.