Improved vigilance by law enforcement agencies necessary to eliminate TIP

Even as Guyana continues to maintain the Tier One ranking for its efforts to combat trafficking in persons (TIP), the government is urging law enforcement agencies to remain vigilant in addressing new and evolving cases.

The Ministry of Home Affairs press statement recently, the Ministerial Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons said the government continues to face challenges with the increased use of online platforms by traffickers to coerce and recruit those most susceptible and vulnerable.

As such, the government will remain steadfast in its approach to countering this crime locally.

“Therefore, it is imperative that law enforcement officials remain vigilant in addressing new and evolving criminal patterns and adapt their responses to investigate and prosecute human traffickers from acting with impunity,” the statement added.

The task force will also expand its partnerships to include more stakeholders in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the Guyana Police Force – Trafficking in Persons Unit has been making strides in countering the crime. In the first half of 2023, the unit investigated 21 reported TIP cases of which, 244 alleged victims were interviewed and screened, 23 being under the age of 18.

Additionally, five persons were officially charged and placed before the court between January – May 2023 for offences ranging from trafficking in persons, assault, forgery of currency notes and the operation of a brothel.

“The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has recommended that one of the alleged perpetrators, who was charged and sentenced to prison for the operation of a Brothel in May 2023, be further charged with two (2) counts of trafficking in persons.   The Guyana Police Force – TIP Unit will institute these charges shortly,” the statement noted.

The ministerial task force is building capacity in this area. Over 170 law enforcement and community policing groups were trained on the indicators of human trafficking and migrant smuggling along with national referral mechanisms in place to report such acts.

Awareness and sensitisation sessions were done with several secondary school students in Regions One, Three, Four and Six through a collaboration of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Guyana Police Force and Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU). Persons are encouraged to continue to report suspected instances of trafficking in persons, utilising the 24-, hour English or Spanish TIP Hotline numbers -227-4083 /623-5030 or 624-0079 (Spanish) or the nearest police station.