SPEECH LAUNCHING CEREMONY FOR THE NATIONAL PLAN OF ACTION FOR THE PREVENTION AND RESPONSE TO TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS 2017-2018

Ministry of Social Protection, Guyana, January 18, 2017

 

H.E PRESIDENT DAVID GRANGER

HONOURABLE KHEMRAJ RAMJATTAN

AMBASSADOR PERRY HOLLOWAY

  1. PAULINE WELCH, CHAIRPERSON
  2. TANISHA WILLIAMS, COORDINATOR, COUNTER-TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS UNIT
  3. OLIVER PROFIT, COORDINATOR, MINISTERIAL TASK FORCE ON TIP

SPECIAL INVITEES,

 

IT IS INDEED A PLEASURE TO BE HERE AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE NATIONAL PLAN OF ACTION FOR THE PREVENTION AND RESPONSE TO TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS 2017-2018. I AM QUITE PLEASED THAT SUCH A COMPREHENSIVE ACTION PLAN WHICH FOCUSES ON “PREVENTION, PROTECTION, PROSECUTION AND PARTNERSHIPS” WILL BE IMPLEMENTED IN A STRATEGIC MANNER TO ASSIST WITH COMBATING SUCH HEINOUS ACTS THAT ARE COMMITTED AGAINST VULNERABLE PERSONS DAILY.

TOO OFTEN WE HEAR OF STORIES OF YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE PROMISED LEGITIMATE JOBS IN THE MINING INDUSTRY BUT END UP BECOMING VICTIMS TO HUMAN TRAFFICKERS, SOME ARE SEXUALLY EXPLOITED WHILE OTHERS ARE FORCED TO WORK IN CONDITIONS AKIN TO SLAVERY. THEIR LIVES ARE THREATENED DAILY AND THEY ARE EXPLOITED IN THE MOST INHUMANE WAYS.

TOO OFTEN WE HEAR STORIES OF MINORS WHO ARE LEFT IN THE CARE OF FAMILY MEMBERS AND BECOME VICTIMS TO THIS CRIMINAL TRADE

TOO OFTEN OTHERS FIND THEMSELVES TRAPPED THROUGH DEBT AND ARE FORCED TO WORK AGAINST THEIR WILL IN CONDITIONS OF MODERN-DAY BONDAGE AND ARE DECEIVED INTO A LIFE OF SUFFERING.

WE MUST SAY ENOUGH! NO MORE TO THESE ACTS!

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 THE HUMAN RIGHTS AND DIGNITY OF ALL PERSONS IN GUYANA IS AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF GOOD GOVERNANCE SO I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT OUR GOVERNMENT WILL, BY ALL MEANS NECESSARY DO WHAT IT CAN TO CURB THIS ILLICIT TRADE.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING CROSSES CULTURES AND COMMUNITIES IT HAS NO BOUNDARIES. IT IS IMPERATIVE FOR PERSONS WITHIN OUR SOCIETY TO BE COGNIZANT THAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS NOT SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM. INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE IS NOT SOMETHING WE CAN IGNORE OR HOPE DOESN’T EXIST IN OUR OWN COMMUNITIES.

WE ALL HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO BRING THIS PRACTICE TO AN END. SURVIVORS MUST BE SUPPORTED AND THEIR FAMILIES AIDED AND COMFORTED, BUT WE CANNOT TURN OUR RESPONSIBILITY FOR DOING THAT OVER TO NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS OR THE FAITH BASED COMMUNITY ONLY. FOR US TO SUCCEED WE MUST ACCEPT THAT IT IS EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY AND THAT ALL OF US HAVE TO SPEAK OUT AND ACT FORCEFULLY AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

I MUST COMMEND THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN IN BOTH THE PUBLIC AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR WHO HAVE STOOD UP AGAINST THIS TERRIBLE CRIME. THESE PERSONS HAVE DISPLAYED A SPIRIT OF SHARED RESPONSIBILITY AND I WANT TO IMPLORE OTHERS TO ADAPT THE SAME APPROACH.

THROUGH WORKING TOGETHER, WE CAN GIVE TRAFFICKING VICTIMS, AS WELL AS THE MANY CHILDREN, WOMEN AND MEN VULNERABLE TO ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION, A MUCH-NEEDED VOICE AND A HELPING HAND.

TODAY I WANT TO UNEQUIVOCALLY STATE THAT THE MINISTRY OF SOCIAL PROTECTION STANDS WITH THE VICTIMS, WE STAND WITH THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN VIOLATED, ABUSED AND VICTIMISED AND I CAN CONFIDENTLY STAND HERE TODAY AND SAY THAT YOU CAN COUNT ON THIS GOVERNMENT TO SUPPORT YOU.

WE HAVE ALLOCATED A TOTAL OF OVER G$12 MILLION TO THE COUNTER TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS UNIT FOR 2017 AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO INVEST IN OTHER PROGRAMMES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO COUNTERING TRAFFICKING.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS A FUNDAMENTAL OBSTACLE TO OUR MANDATE AS A SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCY AND UNDERMINES THE DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVES WE HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH THROUGH OUR PROGRAMMING. HUMAN TRAFFICKING IMPEDES HEALTH, ECONOMIC GROWTH, RULE OF LAW, WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT, AND LIFETIME PROSPECTS FOR YOUTH.

WE MUST BE COGNIZANT THAT FOR US TO DEVELOP AS A NATION WE NEED ALL OF OUR PEOPLE- OUR VALUABLE HUMAN RESOURCE TO BE PROTECTED, THEY MUST BE GIVEN OPPORTUNITIES TO DEVELOP TO THEIR FULL POTENTIAL, SO THAT THEY CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR NATION. WE NEED ALL OF OUR HUMAN ASSETS CONTRIBUTING POSITIVELY TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR GREAT NATION.

WHILE SUCCESSFUL PROSECUTIONS ARE IMPORTANT, THE CYCLE OF TRAFFICKING CANNOT BE BROKEN WITHOUT PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF TRAFFICKED PERSONS AND INTRODUCING EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES TO PREVENT TRAFFICKING.

VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING WHO ARE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO BE FREED NEED ASSISTANCE TO REGAIN THEIR RIGHTS AND REINTEGRATE INTO SOCIETY.

I MUST SAY THAT I AM QUITE PLEASED THAT THE NATIONAL ACTION PLAN INCLUDES A VICTIM –CENTERED AND RIGHTS BASED APPROACH IN ASSISTING AND PROTECTING TRAFFICKED VICTIMS AND THAT EFFORTS WILL BE MADE TO ENSURE THAT VICTIMS ARE PROTECTED THROUGHOUT LAW ENFORCEMENT WHILE THE JUDICIAL PROCESS WILL BE STRENGTHENED TO HANDLE TIP CASES.

I AM OPTIMISTIC THAT THE LAUNCHING OF THIS NATIONAL ACTION PLAN SENDS A CLEAR MESSAGE TO ALL OF OUR COUNTRYMEN AND WOMEN THAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS UNACCEPTABLE, PERPETRATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED AND WE WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO ENSURE THAT FORMER VICTIMS ARE GIVEN SUFFICIENT SUPPORT SERVICES.

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE NOT ONLY HAVE COOPERATION WITH ALL STAKEHOLDERS’ INVOLVED BUT SUSTAINABLE COOPERATION BECAUSE IT IS CRITICAL IN ENSURING THAT OUR EFFORTS ARE EFFICIENT AND SUCCESSFUL.

WE HAVE RECOGNISED THAT CLEARLY WE NEED TO DO MUCH MORE TO STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKERS AS PART OF A COORDINATED AND COMPREHENSIVE RESPONSE AND THIS NEW PLAN OF ACTION SPEAK SPECIFICALLY TO INITIATIVES, MEASURES AND ACTIVITIES TO CURB THIS CRIME.

A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT INCREASE PEOPLE’S VULNERABILITIES TO TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS CAN ENHANCE PUBLIC AWARENESS THAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING OCCURS AROUND IN OUR OWN SOCIETIES. INFORMED UNDERSTANDING CAN ALSO GUIDE NATIONAL RESPONSES TO MITIGATE THE RISKS OF BECOMING A VICTIM OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND TO PROMPT VICTIMS’ IDENTIFICATION.

IN CLOSING IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT WHILE LAW ENFORCEMENT, COOPERATION AND INFORMATION-SHARING CAN ALL BE EFFECTIVE, ENDING HUMAN TRAFFICKING ALSO MEANS TACKLING THE ROOT CAUSES.

EXTREME POVERTY, ENTRENCHED INEQUALITY AND A LACK OF EDUCATION AND OPPORTUNITY CREATE THE VULNERABILITIES THAT TRAFFICKERS EXPLOIT.

ULTIMATELY, I BELIEVE THAT THE BEST PROTECTION IS TO ACCELERATE DEVELOPMENT FOR ALL AND THAT IS WHY WE AS GOVERNMENT WILL CONTINUE TO WORK THROUGH A DEVELOPMENT ORIENTED APPROACH TO ADVANCE THE GOOD LIFE FOR ALL.

THANK YOU!

 

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