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People traffickers using Bahamas as transit route

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames participates in an IDB-sponsored Latin America and Caribbean webinar on human trafficking.

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames participates in an IDB-sponsored Latin America and Caribbean webinar on human trafficking.

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

tsmith-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames said there has been an increase in recent years of females being transported through The Bahamas for sexual and domestic exploitation.

He made the comments as a panelist in an IDB-sponsored Latin America and Caribbean webinar on human trafficking yesterday.

“We in The Bahamas recognise that globally, approximately 71 percent of enslaved humans are women and girls,” Mr Dames said. “In recent years there has been an increase in female victims being transported and/or transited through The Bahamas for sexual and domestic exploitation, particularly from non-English speaking countries.

“The act of trafficking transcends our respective borders, languages and cultures, which is a strong indicator that all nations in the region must prioritise this dehumanising industry. The Bahamas’ presence during this virtual platform on human trafficking signifies our understanding of the issues regarding human trafficking.”

Mr Dames informed the human trafficking panel that in The Bahamas a four-pronged approach has been developed to deal with human trafficking.

“We have developed and will continue to enhance our four-pronged approach to strengthen institutions and their initiatives on matters involving human trafficking,” he said. “They are inclusive of 1) contemporary legislation; 2) training and awareness campaigns; 3) victim protection and recovery services and 4) the successful prosecution and conviction of human traffickers.

“With reference to our first-pronged approach, contemporary legislation, the Parliament of The Bahamas passed in 2008 The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention and Suppression) Act. The legislation was also amended in 2017 to encompass organised entities engaged in trafficking.”

Mr Dames said human trafficking is complex with many nuances, but the legislative component forms the basis for confronting the seriousness of this crime.

“According to the International Labour Organisation Report on Human Trafficking (2014), 1.8 million persons, including trafficked individuals, are victims of forced labour in the region,” Mr Dames said. “The Americas is prominent as the origin, transit and destination for victims of human trafficking .

“This means that human trafficking remains a challenge for the Americas and the Caribbean. Hence, today’s platform is timely considering the evolving role of trafficking and the vulnerability of victims during this global pandemic. According to a UNODC’s Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (2009), 79 percent of humans are trafficked for sexual exploitation and 18 percent for forced labour.”

Mr Dames informed the panel of how a foreign victim of human trafficking is processed in The Bahamas.

“In The Bahamas, if the victim of human trafficking is a foreign national, we grant the victim the appropriate visa or other required authorisation necessary to allow them to remain in The Bahamas; provide information in the victim’s native language; and guide them through any criminal proceedings against their traffickers,” he said.

“Working with both government and non-government agencies, through our Trafficking in Persons Task Force, we facilitate: 1) referrals for housing and meals assistance; 2) physical and psychological assessments 3) transportation, 4) repatriation, if necessary; and 5) training and skills acquisition for employment. This individual protocol is activated with every victim and services are easily accessed.”

He said the government of The Bahamas fully understands that the needs of all victims are different and it aims to facilitate individual care and support.

“We are fully cognizant that we are all inextricably bound to the region and hemisphere, considering the transnational nature of trafficking,” he said. “As a hemispheric partner, The Bahamas will continue to support platforms such as this, while strengthening our institutions and national anti-trafficking strategies.

“The issues surrounding human trafficking are not only a concern for human rights violation, it is also a critical issue for sustainable development in the region. Similarly, the protection of humans, particularly women and girls from sexual and domestic exploitation must have meaningful participation in safety and security matters.”

Mr Dames said while all people in society have a role to play in eradicating human trafficking, continuous collaboration and training platforms for law enforcement officials, medical personnel, educators, non-government organisations and those employed in the judicial sector are key.

Comments

tribanon 1 year, 11 months ago

Something like this doesn't go on in our small country without Marvin Dames and Commissioner Rolle knowing exactly who are the very bad actors behind this most heinous crime of human trafficking. So we must ask ourselves, why the hell have there been no meaningful surveillance activities leading to the arrest and charging of the hard core criminals profiting from these atrocities?! Most of us are just plain fed up with all of the talk, talk, talk and no do!! We want, no better still, we demand action. I say to both Dames and Rolle, get out there and do your damn job!!!

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C2B 1 year, 11 months ago

I assume they are referring to prostitution. It's a nice slight of hand calling it human trafficking. If a prostitute from Colombia, where it is a legal activity, goes to The Bahamas to work, she may be guilty of breaking Bahamian law but hardly a victim of human trafficking. Hyperbole is seldom useful in a debate and calling this slavery falls clearly in that category.

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tribanon 1 year, 11 months ago

So you believe pimped prostitutes aren't slaves. You believe instead that selling one's body is a God given right even for those who must do so in order not to starve to death or to feed a drug addition forced on them. And of course you're okay with prostitutes being trafficked around the world because that's not really human trafficking in your mind. In fact, you probably wouldn't consider certain horrific atrocities involving humans illegal if committed in The Bahamas as long as they are legal in some other country, like Colombia or Communist China. You clearly were nowhere to be found when thinking caps were being handed out.

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