Jamaican government to strengthen investigation and prosecution of human traffickers

The Jamaican government is in the process of strengthening the environment for the investigation and prosecution of cases of human trafficking.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, says as traffickers are coming up with new ways every day to carry out their heinous acts, the State must bolster the institutional capacities “to allow for the aggressive investigation and swift prosecution of offenders.”

“There is no investigation separate from prosecution…it is just one flow…one continuum,” she noted.

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Palmer was addressing the recent opening of a three-day Prosecutors’ Human Trafficking Training Seminar in the northern parish of Trelawny.

Among most heinous crimes

She argued that human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes known to mankind and must be vigorously pursued and eliminated. She said that the victims of human trafficking have been dehumanized where their “persona has been taken from them” and where they have been forced to submit and “do as they are told.”

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She pointed out that the amendments to the Trafficking in Persons Act, now before Parliament, will ensure that there is stronger enforcement of the law to deter persons from engaging in the crime.

“Prosecutors must also be trained in victim identification and protection. They must work together with investigators to protect victims and their families from intimidation from traffickers.”

Must identify intermediaries

Palmer said it is also imperative to identify intermediaries “who enable, facilitate and provide safe and secure front for persons, who procure those activities. We have come to learn that social media is very serious business.”

Careful using social media

“Be careful what you put on social media. Youngsters, in particular, love to post their whereabouts and also about where they are planning to go. We have to become social media smart as the traffickers are very versed and are actively looking out for any opening they can find,” she urged.

Palmer said that even as Jamaica pursues the establishment of a multi-door court system, which places greater focus on dispute resolution and rehabilitative rather than punitive sanctions “there is no contemplation of human traffickers to benefit from mediation or restorative justice processes.”

Human trafficking is considered a transnational crime with the primary objective of gaining profit through the exploitation of human beings.

The Government of Jamaica has ratified the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons and has enacted the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) Act, which was amended in 2013.

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