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Traffickers Continue To Prey On The Vulnerable

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

A NEW US report has noted people with unresolved status in The Bahamas have a heightened risk of human trafficking.

The US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report released yesterday highlighted the issue, adding the country missed the mark on several victim-related priorities.

Among the groups most vulnerable are LGBTQI+ people, migrant children and those displaced by Hurricane Dorian, the 2021 report said.

“As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in The Bahamas, and traffickers exploit victims from The Bahamas abroad,” the report noted.

“Traffickers recruit migrant workers, especially those from Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, the Philippines and the United States through false offers of employment, both through advertisements in foreign newspapers and social media; upon arrival, traffickers subject them to sex trafficking and forced labour, including in domestic service and in sectors with low-skilled labour.”

It continued: “The profile of human traffickers prosecuted for human trafficking have been primarily female in the past five years. Individuals born to a non-Bahamian father in The Bahamas, to a female citizen, or to foreign born parents do not automatically receive Bahamian citizenship or documentation and are at heightened risk of trafficking.

“Unaccompanied migrant children, individuals lured for employment, those involved in commercial sex and exotic dancing, irregular migrants, stateless persons, LGBTQI+ individuals—particularly from poor communities—and migrants displaced by Hurricane Dorian have been trafficked or are particularly vulnerable to trafficking.

“In particular, irregular migrants living in informal settlements on the Hurricane Dorian-ravaged islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, and those who fled to New Providence after the storm, exist in what observers call ‘dark spaces,’ which deter reporting abuse. The high unemployment rate—reported to have exceeded 40 percent—resulting from the pandemic may have increased vulnerabilities for potential victims.”

The report also said the country maintained a tier one rating, which means it fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. However, it noted there were fewer trafficking victims identified and a comprehensive victim identification protocol was not implemented.

This held true especially among vulnerable groups, the report said, adding there was not a dedicated shelter for trafficking victims.

The report further noted the government gave less money to NGOs that offered services to trafficking victims.

“Authorities provided care for five victims identified during previous reporting periods, including two victims still receiving support at the end of the reporting period, although efforts to provide care to victims stopped temporarily from late March to mid-April due to pandemic lockdown restrictions,” the report said.

“The government’s actual spending on trafficking victims’ care and prevention activities apart from the pandemic was $41,351.

“The government also provided $47,651 for four victims for needs resulting from the pandemic, including emergency food assistance, financial assistance for basic needs, and temporary shelter.

“In 2019, the government gave $69,509 to four NGOs that offered services to trafficking victims, among other vulnerable groups, compared to $240,000 in 2018, with the decrease due to emergency costs incurred to address the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian.”

The report also said the government maintained efforts to protect victims and authorities continued to implement a formal victim-centred protocol to guide front-line responders in identifying both sex and labour trafficking victims and referring them to services.

However, the report said concerns remained on the thoroughness of their application, especially with vulnerable populations such as undocumented migrants and stateless children.

“The government identified two Bahamian child victims during the reporting period, down from five victims in 2019 and the same as in 2018.

“NGOs did not identify any victims, the same as in the previous reporting period. The two identified victims, both 16-years-old, returned to their families, and the Department of Social Services provided financial support both to the victims and to their families.”

The report also said: “The government reported it had a formal process to guide officials in transferring victims to institutions that offered short- or long-term care, and it screened all migrants arriving by sea individually upon arrival; normally, migrants apprehended on land were observed for indicators that might warrant further investigation.

“However, experts reported authorities did not use formal protocols to screen all migrants and continued abuse of migrants—particularly those of Haitian descent—by officials was a cause of concern. The country has an SOP with a detailed, victim-centred approach to the screening process, including the use of qualified interpreters of the same gender to assure reporting and comprehension of all communication.

“However, reports of inconsistent training of staff on screening for trafficking indicators, and lack of implementation of identification protocols in migrant languages indicated that authorities did not screen all vulnerable individuals, consequently failing to identify and protect any trafficking victims.”

Comments

sage 5 months ago

These folks have no soul. Isn't it amazing how detailed their inspection is on The Bahamas...and they themselves have lost more than 1000 children in their country with no idea of how to link them to their parents? Perhaps these reporters may wish to look in their own yard...work on their mess before looking at what is going on here.....at lease ...we dont put folks in cages like some folk I know.

Further the insertion of the LGBTQi question ...since Biden's election ...undermines any integrity whatsoever of this report as the tranparent attempt to spread their brand of filth to other countries is even beneath them.

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licks2 5 months ago

I don't understand what this report is saying!! I guess I must read the whole report for myself. . .I suspect this is a narrative through the "eyes" of the reporter. Either the the person who wrote the report "made counch salad" with many unrelated national issues in the Bahamas or the reporter has "another" agenda!!

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tribanon 5 months ago

LMAO. The US Government knows only too well that our country has been financially crippled in large part due to an invasion of illegal immigrants spanning several decades, yet they seem to enjoy beating us over the head for our financial inability to fight the scourge of human trafficking.

Perhaps the US Government should have done much more in the past to assist us in fighting both political corruption and human trafficking, especially given all that they have to lose from a national security standpoint with us being geographically perched right on their door step beneath Florida. The dingbats in the US Department of State have foolishly allowed the successive Bahamian administrations to fall victim to the CCP's great desire to cultivate a cozy and strategically important relationship with the Bahamian people.

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John 5 months ago

well the US always had that bad habit of pointing fingers at others when it is caught in situations it cannot readily resolve. The amount of human trafficking that occurs in and thru The Bahamas is a drop in the bucket compared to the real problem America faces with illegal immigration. And DRUGS. Admittedly President Donald Trump was barrier to illegal immigration for the past four years. But now those, many desperate, see America as the land of plenty (milk and honey), the land of better opportunities and a better life. So they will sojourn, some legally others like slaves on a ship. And the Bahamas should be applauded for having to deal with such a vast problem with such limited resources. Remember The British threw in the towel on the illegal immigration problem shortly after The Bahamas gained the power to govern its own internal affairs. The British felt the immigration problem was too taxing and too costly, So they dumped it in the laps of the unsuspecting Bahamian government. Without notice. Of course since America is more accessible and more open now, with Trump gone will is mean a lessening illegal immigration problem for this country?

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