Youths sensitised about human trafficking

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The Antigua and Barbuda government took its campaign to combat human trafficking to the schools on Tuesday as it looks to increase awareness of the scourge.
Presentations were made at the Villa Primary School, the Antigua Barbuda Institute of Continuing Education (ABICE) and the Antigua Wesleyan Junior Academy as part of the annual week of awareness activities, which run this year from September 24 – 30, organised by the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Committee (TIPPC) within the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Public Safety and Labour.
“I think a lot of people are of the opinion that human trafficking can’t happen here, that it doesn’t happen here, but one of the reasons we’re trying to get this awareness going is because the type of crime it is tends to happen undercover,” explained John McKinnon, a member of the Education Taskforce in the Trafficking in Persons Prevention Committee.
Noting that the students were very receptive to the information, McKinnon told Observer media, “It doesn’t come to the attention of law enforcement unless we have citizens who are capable of recognising that something is wrong and make a report that we can investigate.”
The US State Department has ranked Antigua and Barbuda as a Tier 2 Watch List country for the past four years, meaning that it does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.
According to McKinnon, the government does not believe human trafficking is a major problem locally.
“We’re hoping that we’re right and it’s not a situation where it is happening behind the scenes and we’re just not aware of it. But the only way to really combat it is through education, to ensure that the general public is educated and informed and know what to look for.”
He said the long-term goal is to get to Tier 1, which is full compliance status, but in the interim they are working to get off the Watch List.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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