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…only eight cases prosecuted in court
Though a total of 28 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) cases were detected during the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s first eight months in Office, only eight were placed before the Courts, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud has disclosed.
In response to a series of TIP related questions posed by A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament Natasha Singh-Lewis, Minister Persaud said based on statistical data coming out of the Guyana Police Force, 16 Human Trafficking cases were investigated by the police between August and December 2020, while between January and April 2021, another 12 cases were investigated.
It was noted that eight of the eight of the 28 cases involved 12 children. Of that number, three of the children were rescued in 2020 while the remaining nine were rescued in 2021.
However, the Human Services and Social Security Minister said only eight (8) Human Trafficking cases were prosecuted in the Magistrates’ Court due to a number of factors. One of the factors which resulted in low prosecution is refusal of some of the alleged or suspected victims to cooperate with law enforcement, the minister posited.
MP Singh-Lewis had also enquired about the number of shelters available to TIP victims, and in response, the Human Services Minister explained that there are currently five active and operational shelters across Guyana that cater to the needs of victims of Human Trafficking. One shelter is located in Region Two, another in Region 10 and three in Region Four.
Minister Persaud, in her written response, informed the House that her Ministry is working to expand the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Unit.
“There are currently four (4) full-time staff employed within the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security’s Counter-Trafficking in Persons Unit who are directly responsible for human trafficking operations across Guyana. The Ministry is actively engaged in the process of expanding the staffing of the Unit in a bid to improve its capacity when responding to human trafficking across Guyana,” Minister Persaud explained while noting that the Ministry of Homan Affairs has one staff assigned to the Secretariat of the Ministerial Task Force. “Importantly, there are 15 members of Task Force who are trained in the area of TIP. The Guyana Police Force has three ranks assigned to its Trafficking in Persons Unit of the GPF,” she further added.