Guyana continues to demonstrate ‘serious, sustained efforts’ in tackling TIP

Guyana has maintained its ‘Tier 1’ status for the anti-trafficking in persons (TIP) rating, continuously demonstrating serious and sustained efforts at tackling TIP.  

According to the United States State Department Trafficking in Persons report, the government has fully met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

The report noted that these efforts include increasing investigations and prosecutions, enacting a new anti-trafficking law with increased penalties, and conducting extensive awareness campaigns and training.

“The government constructed a care home for child migrants, including child trafficking victims; identified more victims and referred them to services; granted more victims residency and work permits [and] hired more English-Spanish interpreters and other additional staff,” the report states.

Through the enactment of the Combating Trafficking of Persons Act of 2023, which repealed the earlier Combating Trafficking in Persons Act of 2005, the report said the government has ramped up prosecution efforts, extending criminal liability to corporations, and prescribing stricter penalties of five years to life imprisonment.

The US report noted that these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape.

During the reporting period, 2023, the government also initiated investigations in 77 cases involving ten suspects, a notable improvement when compared with the 28 cases involving 25 suspects (20 for sex trafficking and five for labour trafficking) in 2022.

The government also extensively trained police, other government officials, and members of civil society on topics including financial investigations for human trafficking offences, the 2023 anti-trafficking law, using technology for human trafficking investigations, and trauma-informed care for victims.

Protection efforts were also increased, with 407 victims identified by the government and one identified by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). In 2022, the government identified 327 trafficking victims.

The government screened 281 potential victims among individuals in commercial sex, compared with 305 potential victims screened in 2022.

Of the identified victims, 274 women and seven girls were exploited in sex trafficking, and 116 men and 10 boys were exploited in labour trafficking.

The victims included 21 Guyanese nationals and 386 foreign nationals from Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Cuba, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Russia, and Venezuela.

Victim care services were spearheaded by the Ministry of Human Services C-TIP Unit, which identified victims in cooperation with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and provided them with services.

Funding for anti-trafficking efforts increased in 2023, with the C-TIP Unit receiving $63.83 million, up from $44.15 million in 2022. The government also continued to support victim assistance and shelters, allocating $66.5 million in 2023 compared to $78.2 million in 2022.

On the prevention aspect, the Task Force chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs and the Human Services Ministry proved instrumental in coordinating national interagency and anti-trafficking efforts.

Approximately $89 million was allocated for this unit’s operations, yet another increase from the $68.7 million allocated in 2022.

The government also implemented a $3 million grant from a foreign donor for training and awareness campaigns. Tier 1 is recognised as the highest TIP ranking, and signifies a government’s efforts to address trafficking to meet the baseline requirements. To retain this ranking, governments must continually demonstrate significant progress in fighting trafficking.