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Jamaica Justice Minister affirms resolve to fight human trafficking

KINGSTON, Jamaica – With the recent passage of the Trafficking in Persons Act, which comes into effect on March 1, Jamaica’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator, A.J. Nicholson has affirmed the nation’s resolve to suppress human trafficking.

“This is a warning to all perpetrators of this crime, that the JCF and the people of Jamaica are no longer constrained or handicapped by the absence of a specific piece of legislation to go after the perpetrators of this crime,” Senator Nicholson asserted.

He was addressing the opening session of a special two-day training workshop on the detection of human trafficking for some 50 representatives of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the Customs and Immigration Departments, at the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday, February 20.

“To all perpetrators, we believe that your time is running out. We have to take this opportunity to ensure that your operations are legal or [you will] face the challenges of being meted out with the full force of the law,” Senator Nicholson cautioned.

He explained that “the development of the state machinery to suppress this crime successfully and to the support victims has to be a work in progress, and this is another step along the path to fully implement our national plan of action against trafficking in persons”.

Noting that the creation of an environment that is protective and supportive to victims was important to the country’s response to human trafficking, he pointed out that, “we need to allow for assistance to victims and to allow victims the individual opportunity to gain access to assistance without the fear of being arrested”.

With regard to the workshop, the Minister said it was “aimed at honing skills in the detection of potential trafficking offenders, victims and potential victims of trafficking in persons”.

The training session was convened to enhance the capacity of the JCF to handle the possible threat of trafficking during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 tournament.

Minister Nicholson encouraged the participants to “strengthen your resolve and unequivocally determine in your heart to pursue this task as you return to your respective callings”.

The workshop, which closed on Thursday February 22, is being held with assistance from the International Organization of Migration (IOM).

The chief presenter is IOM Project Manager, Peter Bryant, who will be in the island for six months, to build the capacity of the country to implement aspects of the national plan of action to combat human trafficking.

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