Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Bunting sounds warning after human trafficking downgrade

Published:Wednesday | June 20, 2012 | 12:00 AM

JAMAICA RISKS being unable to access funding from multi-lateral institutions if it fails to improve its human-trafficking record.

Peter Bunting, the minister of national security, in a statement to the House of Representatives yesterday announced that the United States' State Department 2012 report on trafficking in persons has downgraded Jamaica for its efforts in combating human trafficking.

The country's ranking fell from tier two to tier two watch list. Bunting told the House that a five-member ministerial team has been set up to respond to the downgrade and to ensure that Jamaica is fully compliant with the minimum standards to combat human trafficking.

Third time on list

It is the third time that Jamaica is being placed on the tier-two watch list.

Bunting, quoting from the State Department assessment, said: "'The Government of Jamaica does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. However, it is making significant efforts to do so.'"

Bunting said the report pointed to a lack of convictions and the identification of only one victim during the review period as reasons for the downgrade.

Yesterday, Bunting told The Gleaner that the downgrade "does not carry serious consequences but what it signals is that if we do not take urgent action we would get a tier-three classification in the future which now carries serious consequences."

He added: "It would oblige the US government to reduce certain types of aid. It could allow the (US) President to instruct its executive directors on international financial agencies - the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the World Bank, the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) to vote to prevent agreements with countries that are classified as tier three."

The minister also noted that if Jamaica remains on the tier-two watch list for two years it will automatically become tier three.

"We have to correct within the shortest possible time, not just for the purposes of the classification but for our own citizens," Bunting told The Gleaner.

He said Jamaica was not seen as a country for trafficking foreigners. "I think the greater concern would be our own citizens. Our own young people who might be coerced into working in the sex trade, in bars and in massage parlours, under aged."