Police prosecutors training to uphold rights of trafficked persons
– to minimise victims’ trauma
Twenty-eight police prosecutors are being trained to augment their skills in responding, identifying and fighting human trafficking.
The training is a collaboration between the Ministry of Home Affairs Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution. The sessions were held at the Police Training Centre, Eve Leary.
Mrs. Diana O’Brien, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, said the training would ensure police prosecutors are equipped to prepare and to lead witnesses in a manner that upholds the human rights of victims and minimises trauma.
“Our participants will be sensitised about victims’ rights…You will be made aware of relevant considerations such as arranging for interpreters to be brought to court when dealing with non-native English speakers, and securing attendance for victims who are in care of the Ministry of Social Protection, and also for persons who may have returned to their homes, but the Ministry would’ve maintained contact with them,” Mrs. O’Brien explained.
Minister of Home Affairs and Chairman of the Ministerial Task Force on TIP, Hon. Robeson Benn urged the police prosecutors to take advantage of the training.
“The police prosecutors, not simply in the issue of trafficking in persons … have to be the conscience of the society with respect to these matters. You have to reflect societal consciousness and conscience of these matters. We have to be at a locus where empathy and integrity are rolled into one to arrive at situations where we get the best result.”
The United Nations describes human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer and harbouring of women, men and children through coercion, abduction, fraud and deception. Victims are exploited sexually, through forced labour, domestic servitude or in the illegal removal of their organs.
In his address, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nigel Hoppie, DSM, said the Task Force, over the years, has vigorously pursued trafficking cases to rescue victims.
“The work done by the Task Force has been very productive as many victims of human trafficking were rescued and a number of perpetrators were placed before the court…Guyana has moved to Tier One on the United States Department’s ranking on successful efforts in combatting trafficking in persons,” he said.
Perpetrators of human trafficking can be sentenced from three years to life imprisonment, along with the forfeiture of property for offenders and full restitution to victims.
Guyana has ratified the United Nations Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. In 2005, the country also passed the Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act. The Government also established the Ministerial Task Force on TIP in February 2007 to facilitate the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluating of national strategies in response to human trafficking.