Public awareness campaign for human trafficking scourge

Members of the Trafficking in Persons Prevention Committee joined those of the Education Task Force sub-committee to launch a week of sensitisation activities which will take place from the 23 to the 27 of September. (Photo courtesy Carel Hodge)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Ministry of National Security, through its Trafficking In Persons Prevention Committee, will embark on a public education drive with a week of activities.

The September 23 to 27 initiative seeks to aid the overall mission of eradicating the crime in Antigua & Barbuda, officials said.

“It’s hard to fully appreciate freedom when we have never had it snatched away from us,” said Station Chief of the Immigration Department Headquarters, Joycelyn Hughes.

“We get to choose (for ourselves) where to live and to eat. If we are unhappy at work, we have the freedom to quit … Unfortunately, some persons aren’t so lucky. They live the majority of their lives without ever experiencing freedom due to modern slavery.”

The immigration official said cheap labour or sexual pleasure is often the motivation for human trafficking and victims are sometimes abused and murdered.

Antigua & Barbuda, she noted, is not exempt, as people continue to circumvent the law.

Speaking at the launch of the sensitisation activities, Hughes said the perpetrators cross the gender lines, with women fronting as legitimate business owners of nightclubs.

Human trafficking entails but is not limited to the transportation, transfer, recruitment, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat, use of force or other forms of coercion, fraud, deception, abuse of power, exploiting vulnerability or giving, receiving or benefiting from payments to achieve the consent of persons having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation through numerous forms.

Under the theme “Be Vigilant, No One is Immune to Human Trafficking”, the week will begin on Sunday with a radio programme. Tuesday and Wednesday have been set aside to make media rounds.

The education campaign goes to Antigua State College and Clare Hall Secondary School on Thursday.

On September 27, the committee will descend on St John’s to disseminate information.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)


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