The United States Department of State is once again issuing a call for Guyana to do more in the fight against human trafficking. In its 2014 Trafficking in Persons report, the State Department said the Government of Guyana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking while acknowledging that there are efforts underway by the Human Services Ministry to do so.
Guyana has consistently found itself on the Tier 2 watch list of the annual report which was released on Friday and which stated that despite the efforts of the Human Services Ministry, the government did not demonstrate evidence of overall increasing efforts to address human trafficking over the previous reporting period; therefore, “Guyana is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.”
The report said “Guyana has an adequate trafficking law and achieved three trafficking convictions during the reporting period; however, all three convicted traffickers were released on bail pending the appeal of their convictions”. It added that the Government of Guyana did not provide information regarding the basis on which the defendants sought to appeal their convictions or on which the court determined to grant them bail.
“The inability to hold traffickers accountable creates an enabling environment for human trafficking. Trafficking victims have accused police officers and other government employees of cooperating with traffickers”, the report noted.
The U.S Government has encouraged Guyana to boost efforts to hold trafficking offenders accountable by vigorously investigating and prosecuting forced prostitution and forced labor cases, including those involving complicit officials.
It also wants to see the Government of Guyana provide funding for Non Governmental Organisations to identify and assist victims; develop child-sensitive investigation procedures to reduce additional harm to victims, and develop court procedures that protect the privacy of children and minimize the emotional trauma of providing testimony.
The Guyana Women Miners Organisation has been leading the charge in Guyana against Trafficking in Persons. The organisation would have campaigns in many of the mining areas where teen girls suspected to be victims of human trafficking would be rescued. In 2013, over 20 teenage girls were removed by the organisation from various mining camps where some of them worked as prostitutes.
The GWMO has also called for the Government to do more and for more Government agencies to play a key role in ensuring the safety of victims once they are rescued. Guyana continues to be seen as a country where human trafficking exists.