Barbados is the latest Caribbean country to defend itself against allegations that it isn't doing enough to prevent human trafficking.
The country's Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr Esther Byer Suckoo is insisting that the government has been working assiduously to ensure that the relevant systems are put in place to deal with the scourge. Barbados was placed in the Tier Two of "countries considered to be making minimal efforts to satisfy the United Nations' anti-trafficking in persons' requirement", in the United States 2009 Report on Trafficking in Persons.
Dr Byer Suckoo countered the allegation in the document released by the US State Department, saying that "government has privately and publicly expressed its abhorrence of this heinous crime".
"The gravity and inhumane nature of this practice demands that we attack it on all fronts. We have to remain ahead of those unprincipled persons, so as to prevent human trafficking from occurring here, but if it does, we have to ensure mechanisms are in place to assist those victims," she said.
"The Bureau of Gender Affairs will be meeting with four major sectors that impact on human trafficking to finalise the protocol, before submission to the Ministry of Family for ratification. They will meet with officials in the areas of law enforcement and social services, non-governmental organisations and other government departments to analyse their responsibilities under the draft protocol and determine whether they have any challenges in meeting the stated commitments," the Minister added.
According to her, the exercise "aims to ensure that victims of human trafficking are not denied humanitarian support".
"Barbados is prepared to cooperate with countries and enter into arrangements to protect the welfare of victims, punish traffickers, and preserve its reputation as a promoter of human rights," Dr Byer Suckoo added.
Barbados has signed but not ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. This protocol supplements the United Nations Convention against Trans-national Organised Crime.
St Vincent and the Grenadines and Guyana have already reacted angrily to being placed in the Tier Two Watchlist, saying the report is not a reflection of the reality in the ground.
Adapted from: "Barbados dismisses human trafficking allegations," Caribbean360.com, 24 June 2009.
Search the entirety of the site for resources or updates.