For the first time in over a decade, Guyana has found itself meeting the standards for the elimination of human trafficking. The country has received high marks in the latest report on human trafficking which was compiled by the US State Department.
In the report, which was released on Tuesday, it was pointed out that “the Government of Guyana fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking”.
Additionally the report found that “the government made key achievements during the reporting period” and that has resulted in Guyana being upgraded to Tier 1.
“The achievements included approving the 2017-2018 national action plan for combating trafficking in persons; increasing the number of investigations, prosecutions, and convictions; and identifying and assisting more victims for the second year in a row. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not increase protection and services for victims outside the capital or provide adequate protection and shelter for child and male victims”, the report stated.
While recognising and praising the government efforts, the 2017 Human Trafficking report also recommended that the Government starts to fund specialized victim services, including those offered by Non-Governmental Organisations, including for child victims and adult male victims.
Additionally, it has been recommended that there be vigorous investigation and prosecution of sex and labor trafficking cases and convicted traffickers, including complicit public officials, should be held accountable by imposing sufficiently stringent sentences.
The report has also recommended the training of law enforcement, judiciary officials, and frontline responders—especially those working outside the capital— on victim identification and referral procedures.
The US State Department also wants Guyana to finalize the written identification procedures to better guide law enforcement officials and provide additional protection for victims to enable them to testify against traffickers in a way that minimizes re-traumatization.
There should also be the recording of the number of cases reported to the trafficking hotline to promote a rapid investigative and victim assistance response and training on human trafficking should also be provided for diplomatic personnel.
Despite the improvement, the human trafficking report states that Guyana still remains a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.
It said “women and children from Guyana, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Suriname, and Venezuela are subjected to sex trafficking in mining communities in the interior and urban areas.”
The report also found that Guyanese nationals are subjected to sex and labor trafficking in Jamaica, Suriname, and other Caribbean countries.
It has also found that some police officers are complicit in trafficking crimes, and corruption impedes anti-trafficking efforts.
The coalition government over two years has stepped up the fight against human trafficking in the country while also continuing some of the work that would have been started by the last government.