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Georgetown, Guyana — (November 22, 2017) Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally, this morning, described human trafficking as a developmental obstacle and reiterated Government’s commitment to ridding Guyana of every incidence of this crime of all humanity to ensure the protection of all Guyanese and those who visit this country. The Minister made these comments at the launch of the Strengthening Guyana’s Capacity to Effectively Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Assist Victims of Trafficking Project, held at the Cara Lodge Hotel in Quamina Street, Georgetown.

“Human trafficking is a callous industry that denies victims their basic rights and dignity so that heartless perpetrators can benefit financially from exploiting vulnerable victims. The protection of Human Rights and dignity of all persons in Guyana is an essential component of good governance and the Government [of Guyana] will, by all means necessary, do what is required to curb this illicit trait… Guyana remains resilient and committed to the process of combatting Trafficking in Human Beings and the smuggling of migrants,” she said.

First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger passionately expressed her hope that the workshop would produce thorough Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs). “We must condemn and report adults who barter their girl children for a few dollars at a brothel in a remote location. We must also understand the plight of young job-seeking men, who go into the hinterland with the promise of huge amounts of money for their labour, only to end up as slave labour… Trafficking of Human Beings and smuggling of migrants is big business… It is, therefore, in my view, imperative that comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures be developed, widely publicised, and implemented so that we in Guyana can eliminate trafficking in Human Beings,” she said.

Members of the Head table, First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger flanked by, from left to right, International Consultants, Ms. Linda. Eriksson Baca and Ms. Lori Mann, United States Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Perry Holloway, Chief of Mission, International Organisation for Migration, Mr. Robert Natiello, Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally, and Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan.

Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan said that the Government is eager to facilitate this and other consultations. “At the beginning of the year… we had launched this national plan of action for the prevention and response to Trafficking in Persons 2017/2018… This plan, so far, has seen a number of activities executed… These are necessary because we want to institutionalise the arrangements for the countering of Trafficking in Persons and let it be a part of the culture of this country… Our Government welcomes these consultations and the eventual development of the standard operating procedures,” he said.

United States Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Perry Holloway, praised the Government of Guyana for recently being elevated to a Tier One country in the United States’ Department of State’s 2017 Trafficking in Person’s Report, but said there is still more progress to be made.

“I think I spoke with Minister Ramjattan and maybe even the President right after the announcement came out and I said [that] you need to celebrate. You need to take a victory lap but there’s a lot more work to be done… Some of the things they need to do is expand efforts in the interior country, [and create] greater partnerships with NGO’s to finalise its written identification and standard operating procedures,” he said.

Chief of Mission at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Mr. Robert Natiello gave a brief overview of the three-year project, saying that the goal of the project is to strengthen Guyana’s capacity to effectively combat trafficking in persons and to assist victims. IOM International Consultants will host series of meetings with local stakeholders and Government officials in order to create SOPs that are clear and thorough.

IOM International Consultant, Ms. Linda Eriksson Baca, who was very moved by reports of TIP in Guyana, is committed to supporting the victims, but emphasised the need for the IOM, the Government of Guyana, and all local organisations in attendance to work together to give victims improved access to justice.

Fellow International Consultant, Ms. Lori Mann said that organisation will be using a victim-centered approach that will give victims the power to determine their future. Ms. Mann also expressed the hope, as a long term goal for Guyana, to see the formation of a National Referral Mechanism (NRM), a multidisciplinary body adaptable to the country of context that would ensure collaboration among agencies of Government and civil society for the eradication of Human Trafficking.

President of the Guyana Women’s Mining Organisation, Ms. Urica Primus expressed similar sentiments noting that the rights of the victim are of paramount importance. “The SOPs should also respect the rights of the victim and ensure that their best wishes are optimum throughout any procedure that is being followed,” she said.

The workshop is hosted by the International Organisation for Migration in collaboration with the Government of Guyana and funded by the United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP). There will be a follow up Validation Workshop on the November 29 to ensure that the finalised procedures reflect the views of the stakeholders. The workshop hosted representatives from the Guyana Police Force, the Child Care and Protection Agency, the High Court, UNICEF, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, and various Ministries and Government.

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