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Trafficking in person (Part 2)

Published:Wednesday | April 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Today, we will continue to look at a form of irregular migration known as trafficking in person (TIP), or human trafficking. Part 1 was published last Wednesday.

Trafficking is appealing because it is a very lucrative business. It is the third-largest illegal industry worldwide. Persons who receive offers to travel overseas are advised to be cautious when presented with these opportunities, as they may find themselves in a situation where they become victims of human trafficking. This situation can affect women, men and children and can lead to inhumane treatment being meted out to victims, some of whom may be Jamaican citizens.

Global Phenomenon

The trafficking of women and children into bonded sweatshop labour, forced marriage, forced prostitution, domestic servitude, and other kinds of work is a global phenomenon. Rich and poor nations alike are involved in TIP.

Three types of countries can be involved. A 'source country', or country of origin, is a country from which people are trafficked. Examples of this could involve Jamaican women and men who are offered high-paying jobs as domestic workers or hotel industry and construction workers in other countries, but the aim is to exploit them.

A 'transit country' is a temporary stop for trafficked victims before they journey to the country where they will be 'enslaved'. Examples could include, on the one hand, nationals from other countries being brought to Jamaica en route to a country where they will provide cheap labour. On the other hand, Jamaican nationals could end up in other countries before they get to their final destination.

A 'destination country' is a country where trafficked persons end up. Examples could include women and men from other countries being brought into Jamaica for purposes of sexual exploitation, domestic servitude or forced labour. It may also involve Jamaican nationals whose final destination is other countries where they will be exploited.

Treatment of victims

Victims of trafficking are sometimes treated as criminals by the authorities of the receiving state and may be detained, prosecuted and deported. This reality, combined with a fear of reprisals from traffickers, means that trafficked persons have little incentive to cooperate with law-enforcement authorities in the destination countries. A lack of knowledge of legal rights and entitlements, cultural and linguistic obstacles and the absence of support mechanisms, combine to further isolate trafficked victims and to prevent them from seeking or receiving justice.

Sometimes victims may have had bad experiences with law-enforcement officials in the past and are afraid to seek help from the police or other relevant authorities. This is especially true in countries where the police are corrupt and act in collusion with traffickers to perpetuate the crime.

Despite the negatives, however, anti-trafficking institutions and other authorities have been vigilant and have stepped up their efforts in arresting this problem. Some countries have enacted laws to combat the trade and have established different anti-trafficking enforcement agencies to go after persons involved in the crime.

Education and public awareness are also seen as important tools in combating the problem.

Jamaica's Response

Jamaica has been responding positively to prevent, suppress and combat TIP. The National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP) was established in 2005 as the national machinery to develop and execute policy as well as to guide and monitor actions to counteract TIP. Additionally, the task force coordinates responses from the various organisations in relation to human trafficking. NATFATIP was established within the Office of the Prime Minister and comprises government ministries, agencies, departments and NGOs. The Ministry of National Security has overall responsibility to ensure that human trafficking is effectively addressed.

Further to this, the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) Act was passed in 2007 and prescribes measures to prevent and combat trafficking in persons (with particular regard to victims who are women and children) by:

protecting and assisting victims of trafficking;

facilitating the efficient investigation of cases;

facilitating just and effective punishment of individuals and organisations involved;

promoting cooperation between Jamaica and other countries in order to prevent and suppress trafficking in persons and to punish offenders.

Finally, the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) supports the efforts of the police and NATFATIP by ensuring that persons traversing our ports do so legitimately. PICA's immigration officers are trained in ascertaining pertinent information to determine whether persons are travelling illegally.

You can do your part by contacting the nearest police station if you have even the slightest suspicion of a case of trafficking.

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.