Guyana’s off TIP watch list
Ministry of Social Protection, June 30, 2016 – The Ministry of Social Protection welcomes the latest classification on Trafficking in Person, which has seen the country coming off the watchlist for TIP, that is, moving from Teir 2 on the Watch List to Teir Two. The new status was revealed in the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2016 made public today. Guyana was placed on the Tier Two Watch List three years ago and has since mounted numerous efforts to improve its rating.
The 2016 Report noted that the Government of Guyana does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The report attributed this improvement in status to the country being able to convict a trafficker, on whom a three-year prison sentence was imposed. The Convicted trafficker was also required to pay the victim restitution—the first time restitution has been ordered for a trafficking offender in Guyana. The government also provided $600,000 to an NGO-run shelter dedicated to trafficking victims—the first shelter of its kind in Guyana—to enhance the shelter’s psycho-social services for victims. The Report also noted that Government further increased collaboration with anti-trafficking NGOs by instituting procedures to refer victims to the shelter and including a leading anti-trafficking NGO on its inter-ministerial anti-trafficking taskforce.
Welcoming the improved status, Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence said TIP is “slavery as part of economic ventures and this Government, through its various arms, will fight vigorously such attempts and will join forces with like-minded persons, organisations and governments to stop vulnerable persons from falling into the hands of such perpetrators.
Coordinator of the Counter-Trafficking Department at the Ministry, Mrs. Tanisha Williams-Corbin noted that “the improved status is encouraging. Being off the watch list is a vindication of our efforts to counter Trafficking in Persons, especially those efforts to bring greater awareness about TIP and to have increased prosecution of TIP cases.”
Nevertheless, she said that countering TIP in Guyana remains a tall order and noted that the 2016 report highlights some of the challenges while making recommendations.
Among the challenges listed in the report are inadequate staffing at the Counter Trafficking Unit to facilitate trafficking investigations, and protection and services for victims outside the capital or participating in investigations against their traffickers.
She said that the recommendations are taken seriously and noted that the Ministry has since improved its staffing capacity with the addition of two social workers and a police detective. Mrs. Williams-Corbin also explained that there are significant increases in surveillance and raid exercises on hot spots. Additionally, the Unit continuously conducts awareness campaigns across the country and provides support to victims to enable them to appear in Court and testify against traffickers while also providing other psychosocial support.