Statement by His Excellency Mr. Carl Greenidge, Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana at the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons
The convening of this High Level Meeting on the Global Compact of Action on Trafficking in Persons comes at an important juncture of our work. It takes place at a time when human trafficking is the world’s second most profitable criminal enterprise, a status which is shared with arms trafficking. The Government of Guyana expresses solidarity with victims and survivors of such crimes while committing to ensure that all measures are taken nationally in the global fight against trafficking in persons.
I wish to highlight Guyana’s recent elevation from a Tier 2 to Tier 1 country as reflected in the US Department of State’s 2017 Annual Trafficking in Persons Report. We believe that this achievement is just recognition of the tireless efforts of the Government and our partners to eliminate Trafficking in Persons in Guyana.
While this elevation to a Tier 1 country is a welcome achievement for Guyana, we remain cognizant of the many challenges in addressing human trafficking, especially with regards to training and awareness, more efficient prosecutions and support to and referral of victims.
An extremely important aspect of any government’s fight against human trafficking is its effort to prevent that crime in the first place. In Guyana we have embarked on a number of different initiatives through the pillars of Prevention, Protection and Prosecution, in an effort to dissuade prospective offenders from perpetrating the crime. The Government of Guyana has established a Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons which promotes the implementation of a number of measures and initiatives to combat human trafficking. The Ministerial Task Force has so far conducted awareness training for police prosecutors, immigration officials and media practitioners especially when reporting on crimes involving children. In addition, the Action Sub-Committee of the Task Force has also been active in 2017, as teams led by the Guyana Police Force and the Ministry of Social Protection conducted a number of enforcement ‘sweeps’ in areas where it was suspected that the crime of trafficking in persons may have been taking place.
Additionally, during 2017, the Task Force identified an increase in reports coming from Guyana’s citizens, which suggests that the awareness campaign has resulted in some measure of success. The population’s increased awareness of their civic roles and responsibilities is pivotal to the success achieved by the Government of Guyana in its efforts to eliminate this scourge.
Guyana’s difficult terrain poses one acute challenge in monitoring and enforcement of porous borders. With limited capacity to effectively police the remote regions of the country, the Guyana Police Force regularly engages in enforcement sweeps, which include surveillance, surprise inspections and establishment raids, as well as raising awareness in those remote communities, schools, youth groups – both general and faith based, through various media of communication.
We take this opportunity to acknowledge the important collaboration with our many non- Governmental organisations and civil society partners in the areas of victim care and assistance, and to also ensure that identified victims are not penalized or re-victimized for having been trafficked.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate the Government of Guyana’s commitment to collaborate with stakeholders, both local and foreign, in combating the crime of human trafficking in Guyana through the pillars of Prevention, Protection and Prosecution.
I thank you.