Tue | Oct 27, 2020

Resource library launched to boost trafficking fight

Published:Thursday | September 10, 2020 | 12:13 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Diahann Gordon Harrison.

Jamaica remains at Tier 2 on the US State Department’s Human Trafficking Index, the island’s rapporteur on trafficking in persons (TIP), Diahann Gordon Harrison, has said.

However, the lack of prosecution remains a serious challenge and concern for the State Department.

“I can’t say definitively what would cause them to say our efforts are enough, but what I can say is that we are mindful of what we need to be doing and the country on a whole continues to make those efforts and will continue to strive until we get there (Tier 1),” Gordon Harrison told The Gleaner yesterday.

She was commenting at the end of the virtual launch of the Human Trafficking Online Resource Library, and pointed out that further measures are being established to improve Jamaica’s current ranking.

There are four human trafficking hotspots across the country – Ripon Road in Kingston, Port Henderson Road (Back Road) in Portmore, Jimmy Cliff Boulevard (Hip Strip) in Montego Bay, and Truck Stop in Runaway Bay, St Ann.

Gordon Harrison said that constant surveillance of established hotspots and other areas, including those less conspicuous, will help move the island towards attaining a top-tier ranking.

“We are always working to improve our tier ranking. Tier 2 essentially means that we have made significant efforts in dealing with the issue of trafficking and that we are continuing to make those efforts,” the rapporteur said.

She said that a Tier 1 ranking means that a country has been doing well and is “reaping very large successes across the three target areas”, which are prevention efforts, prosecution success and protection.

It is estimated that hundreds of Jamaicans are or have been victims of human trafficking. However, between 2010 and 2016, only 62 victims were rescued.

While she was unable to state the amount of money human traffickers rake in locally per year, she hinted that it could be in the multiple millions.

OVERLOOKED CRIME

Giving his blessings to the launch, National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang said human trafficking is a most serious crime that is sometimes overlooked. He pointed out that a lot of training and investment has gone into sensitisation of agencies, the police force and citizens in boosting vigilance to identify individuals perpetrating the crime.

“Today, I want to commend the Office of the National Rapporteur in launching this eLearning Centre and Resource Library,” Chang said. “Knowledge is maybe the most powerful tool that we can use to fight this horrible crime. The more the wider society understands the challenge it provides, the nature of the crime, and can have access to reliable and credible information, the more likely we are to overcome this challenge.”

The resource library provides stakeholders with information about human trafficking and includes access to research derived from local and international sources.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com