Jamaica urged to commit to UN protocol against human trafficking

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jul. 3, CMC  – The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer has called for the strengthening of Jamaica’s commitment to the United Nations (UN) Palermo Protocol, which urges signatories to prevent and suppress the incidence of human trafficking.
Palmer, who heads the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), says government agencies must avoid complacency and redouble their efforts, in keeping with the Protocol’s requirements, to ensure Jamaica achieves Tier 1 classification in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.
Among the Protocol’s provisions are guidelines for the protection and support of victims, particularly women and children. It also provides a framework to bring the Government of Jamaica in compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of the United States and its international obligations.
Palmer said the relevant local authorities must endeavour to vigorously prosecute, convict and punish traffickers, irrespective of who they are.
“Government-wide standard operations must be developed and we must seek to identify and assist all victims of trafficking. We need ‘whole-of-Government’ sustained actions that will lead to the proactive identification of local as well as foreign victims of human trafficking, including those who are victims of forced labour and sexual trafficking.”
The Permanent Secretary was addressing a  recent graduation ceremony for local and regional law enforcement officials who completed a Trafficking in Persons course at the Caribbean Regional Drug Law Enforcement Training Centre in the central parish of St. Catherine.
Palmer, who acknowledged the need for increased prosecution of human trafficking offenders, noted the progress being made to this end through modernisation of the judicial system.
She urged the graduates to recommit themselves to vigorous investigations of all suspects, including state and law enforcement officials.
“Accountability and prosecution send a strong deterrent to other persons who might want to compromise themselves. Law enforcement must do their jobs without fear or favor, build trust… and encourage victims to participate in the process to ensure a successful conviction.”
Palmer said NATFATIP will this year push for the publishing of a Standard Victims Protocol and will engage the National Rapporteur on the publication of an annual report.
The National Rapporteur, adopted by Jamaica in 2005, is an independent Commission of Parliament. It is mandated to investigate reports of human trafficking and reports on the violation of victims’ rights, and submit annual reports to the Parliament.
This responsibility is pivotal to Jamaica’s obligation to combat human trafficking and has implications for the country’s classification in the TIP report, Palmer noted.

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