A two-day Regional Thematic Meeting to address Trafficking in Human Beings and Smuggling of Migrants commenced today at the Ramada Georgetown Princess Hotel.

The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean and Chief of Missions, Guyana, Robert Natiello, in his opening remarks, noted the aim of the consultation is to continue fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). “The multi-stakeholder meeting seeks to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.”

Additionally, he said another SDG calls on nations to “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2050, end child labour in all its forms.”

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, in his remarks, stressed that an integrated approach is needed in Guyana.

“It is also having fresh ideas that must come from our circumstances. Our experts inside of the task force, those that are in the research departments of our ministries, our universities… All of them would have to collaborate and come up with fresh ideas as to how we can do this thing. Hitting the networks hard, getting the information who are some of the suspects,” said Minister Ramjattan.

He stressed that “the best examples [of responses to the issues] do not and cannot focus on policing alone. Law enforcement is just one, [but] it includes elements of prevention and development in the integration of human rights-based approaches.”

The Public Security Minister brought into focus the strides the Ministry of Public Security has taken towards addressing human trafficking, particularly in the hinterland regions.

“Over the years, the task force has led the implementation of a number of key anti-Trafficking In Persons initiatives. One of these is the training of interpreters to speak the indigenous languages. Additionally, the task force would have trained diplomats, wardens, mining officers in the fight against Trafficking in Persons (TIP). “All of these were carried out at maintaining… our Tier-1 [TIP] status.”

Moreover, Minister Ramjattan condemned the profits garnered from TIP and smuggling of migrants. He added that it may result in “taking away their hotel licenses when you get the evidence or not granting hotel licenses and business licenses.”

Minister Ramjattan expressed his appreciation to the organisers of ACP/EU Dialogue and ACP/EU Migration Action which is funded by the European Union and the IOM for supporting the meeting, which aims to generate relevant recommendations on topics of TIP and smuggling of migrants.

Shaquille Bourne. DPI