NASSAU, Bahamas – The Bahamas Department of Immigration took note of the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report released on June 5, 2006.
The concept of trafficking in persons is a new phenomenon for The Bahamas. Due to the incessant inflow of irregular migrants, our vibrant economy, geographical location and archipelagic make-up, The Bahamas, may be viewed as a transit nation unwittingly facilitating such criminal activity.
Our country can ill-afford to be marginalized by this scourge, which has been characterized as “modern day slavery”. Consequently, the Department of Immigration takes the issue of trafficking in persons seriously and has formulated and implemented strategies to effectively address this phenomenon.
We further pledge to vigorously pursue claims by victims of trafficking, enact and implement legislations, and enforce the United Nations Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children.
Over the past two years, the International Organization for Migration has been assisting with the training of Bahamian officials to identify vulnerable groups who may be trafficked to or through The Bahamas.
According to the US State Department Report, the problem of trafficking in persons in The Bahamas is unmonitored and undocumented. We have no statistical information on human trafficking.
The Report further raised the concern that there may be a significant number of trafficking victims in The Bahamas in need of assistance.
If this is so, those individuals are urged to contact the Department of Social Services. Victims of human trafficking will not be held in detention while their cases are being investigated.
The Report also claimed that The Bahamas may be a country of destination for men and women trafficked from other countries for the purpose of labor exploitation.
For the most part, the immigrants who find themselves in The Bahamas come here voluntarily for purely economic reasons we are not aware of any incidences where persons are trafficked here for the purpose of labor exploitation.
Anyone with evidence of such activities in The Bahamas is urged to report the matter to the Department or Labor or the Department of Immigration.
While there may be unscrupulous persons who attempt to take advantage of undocumented illegal immigrants, to categorize the practice as widespread is a gross exaggeration.
While the Bahamas Immigration Act does not specifically use the term ‘trafficking’, it does address the movement of migrants to and through the country.
Contrary to what was purported, there is an appreciation for the difference between alien smuggling and trafficking in persons.