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Trafficking in persons (Pt 1)

Published:Wednesday | April 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Today's PICA Corner is the first of a two-part series on trafficking in persons, or human trafficking.

Trafficking in persons (TIP) has been cause for great concern in recent times. It is known as the irregular movement of persons from one place to the next. This activity, which is not restricted to any one border, has enriched the pockets of many traffickers as, annually, thousands of women, girls, men and boys are trafficked worldwide.

What is TIP?

In most cases, Jamaican citizens are free to migrate to other countries as long as the proper immigration procedures are adhered to. This is known as the regular movement of persons across borders. However, the irregular movement of persons or human trafficking has seen scores of Jamaicans migrating or travelling overseas to less than desirable situations.

Trafficking in persons, or human trafficking, is defined as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception or the abuse of power or position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation".

As indicated by the definition above, fear, force and fraud are key elements of this form of migration pattern.

TIP is regarded as one of the worst forms of modern-day slavery. It is not strictly related to external migration but also to internal migration, where persons are moved from one community or parish to another within the same country.

TIP involves three interrelated activities, namely: (1) recruitment by deception or force; (2) transportation across borders legally or illegally or within a country; and (3) exploitation.

The various types of trafficking include sex trafficking, domestic servitude, forced labour, street peddling and the removal of body parts and organs for sale.

How does TIP occur?

Females are the main victims of TIP. They are typically recruited with the promise of good jobs in other countries, through agents and brokers who arrange the travel and job placements. They are escorted to their destinations and delivered to the employers.

Upon reaching their destinations, some women learn that they have been deceived about the nature of the work they will do. Most are lied to about the financial arrangements and conditions of their employment; and all find themselves in coercive and abusive situations from which escape is both difficult and dangerous.

Traffickers use a variety of recruitment methods and sometimes the potential trafficking victim is already seeking a chance to migrate when she/he is approached by an acquaintance or lured through an advertisement.

Some are tricked into believing they are being recruited for legitimate employment, study courses or marriage abroad. Some, however, are aware that they are being recruited into the sex industry but are deceived about their conditions of work.

Traffickers generally seek to exercise control over a victim's legal identity by confiscating his/her passport or official papers. The victim's entry or stay in the destination country is usually illegal, serving to increase reliance on the traffickers. Debt bondage is widely used to control trafficked persons and to ensure their continued profitability. Physical restraint, violence, and intimidation are frequently reported.

Read Part Two of this series next week. PICA Corner is a collaboration between The Gleaner and the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency. Send questions, comments and suggestions to and PICA will respond.