Guyana gets praise for fight against human trafficking, but US warns of forced labour by Foreign Governments

Guyana gets praise for  fight against human trafficking, but US warns of forced labour by Foreign Governments

The Government of Guyana has been praised by the US State Department for its serious and sustained efforts to fight human trafficking, however the US Government has also issued a warning to Guyana about foreign workers being forced to take up jobs in Guyana by their governments under bilateral programmes.

In its 2024 Trafficking in Persons report, the US Department of State noted that Guyana has bilateral agreements with the Cuban and Chinese Governments and under those relations, workers from the two countries take up jobs in Guyana in various fields. The US is concerned that some of those workers do not take up those jobs in Guyana on their own free will.

Pointing to the more than 200 nurses from Cuba, who are currently working in Guyana, it was noted that while Guyana provides housing and airfare for the nurses, their salaries are covered by their Government. The US State Department report noted that warned that the Cuban government-affiliated medical professionals working in Guyana may have been forced to work by the Cuban government.

It also noted that Chinese nationals working on Chinese government projects through the Belt and Road Initiative in Guyana may have also been forced to work by the Chinese government. It was noted in the report that there have been rare inspections of the worksites where the foreign Government to Government workers are based. The US has recommended more vetting of the workers and the programme.

The report found that the Government of Guyana fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. It said the country’s efforts to fight trafficking in persons included increasing investigations and prosecutions; convicting one trafficker and ordering her to pay restitution; and enacting a new anti-trafficking law with increased penalties.

It was noted that there needs to be an increase in prosecutions and convictions in sex and labor trafficking cases, including for cases involving child victims.

The report has also recommended a complete review of existing legislation on labor recruitment and for there to be an increase in the number of labor inspectors.

The report is also recommending that convicted traffickers, including complicit officials, be held accountable by seeking adequate penalties, which should involve significant prison terms

The report also recommends that the Government ensures security for victims, especially those residing in government shelters, and their relatives, and reduce reliance on victims to serve as witnesses in prosecutions.

In 2023, there were 77 cases of trafficking in persons in Guyana that involved ten suspects. Seven of the suspects were charged.

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