Georgetown, Guyana – (February 21, 2019) Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix, informed that between March 30, 2015 and February 20, 2019, the Government of Guyana, through its various agencies and departments, has assisted 338 suspected victims of Trafficking in Persons (TIP). Of this figure, 67 per cent represent foreign nationals.
Speaking at the opening of a TIP workshop at the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) today, the Minister said, “Guyanese as well as persons of other nationalities are being trafficked in Guyana…the US State Department reports that are released each year, continues to highlight Guyana as a source, transit and destination country of the crime of TIP and a country where internal trafficking is present”.
Guyana’s Constitution protects its citizens from, and criminalises, all forms of human rights violations. Article 140 of the Constitution states that “no person shall be held in slavery or servitude” while Article 141 outlines that, “no person shall be subjected to torture or inhumane or degrading punishment”.
“Trafficking in Persons is an inhumane crime and it continues to threaten our most valuable resource; our men, our women, and even our children are being exploited in varying ways…We, the Government of Guyana, continue to make stringent efforts to combat this inhumane crime. In fact, for the past two years we have attained and maintained a Tier One ranking according to the annual US [United States] State Department Report. This is the highest ranking a country can achieve. This means that the Government of Guyana is going in the right direction in so far as fighting human trafficking is concerned,” the Minister said.
In fact, he pointed out that between 2015 and 2019, more that G$134M has been made available by the Government as subventions to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are providing assistance to victims of human trafficking. This figure does not reflect the annual budgetary allocations that each Government agency that has responsibility for combating TIP, receives.
Meanwhile, United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Ms. Mikiko Tanaka made it clear that victims of human trafficking must be treated as victims of a heinous crime and not be made to face further persecution. She also lauded the Government for taking a strong, non-tolerance stance against TIP and for always cooperating with the UN system to address human rights violations and sustainable development.
According to the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2005, the term human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring and/or receipt of persons by means of threat, force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or position of vulnerability or by giving or receiving payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another or for the purpose of exploitation.
Human trafficking has many forms of exploitation including, sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude, forced begging, organ removal and servile marriage.
Today’s workshop was organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) with support from the Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration and the US State Department.
The public is advised to call the Ministry of Social Protection’s 24-hour hotline number- 227-4083/623-5030- to report any form of human rights violation.