October 19, 2012 10:56 AM
ORANJESTAD -- "The Fight against Human Trafficking Matters!" is Aruba's slogan for a week of events designed to raise public awareness for better prevention of human trafficking, protection of victims and prosecution of traffickers.
"The campaign, which starts today with a public lecture at the University of Aruba and events at local radio and television stations, is organized by IOM, the Government of Aruba and the Aruba Anti Human Trafficking and Smuggling Taskforce", said the IOM Spokesperson Chris Lom in a press release.
Like many countries in the Caribbean, Aruban officials have started to receive information on possible cases of human trafficking. To date, three of them have been confirmed, but IOM and its partners believe that other cases may remain unreported. "Although the scale of human trafficking in Aruba, and in the Caribbean for that matter, does not compare with other regions around the world, human trafficking is a crime that cannot be ignored," says IOM Project Manager Chissey Mueller. Throughout the week, IOM, its partners and guest speakers, including a US citizen who was trafficked in the USA, will bring the message to different audiences by explaining what constitutes human trafficking, how it takes place, ways in which traffickers deceive their victims, possible trends in Aruba and in the region, the Government's response and available services, and how the public can play a crucial role in preventing human trafficking and in identifying victims.
On Thursday, October 18, Aruba's National Day against Human Trafficking, will anchor the week with a session for invited delegates from other Caribbean countries that closely interact with Aruban authorities and civil society on the issue of human trafficking.
During the course of the week, IOM will discuss its upcoming "Situational Analysis on Aruba's Response to Human Trafficking" research report and will launch a competition for Aruban youth to submit artwork depicting human trafficking for an information campaign scheduled for 2013.
The Aruba awareness week is part of IOM's regional capacity building program to combat human trafficking in Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. The program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP.) Since 2004, IOM has been helping to build the capacity of the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean to fight human trafficking by raising awareness, training stakeholders, and identifying and assisting victims who had been trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labor and domestic servitude.
The victims came from countries as distant as India, Myanmar and the Ukraine, and from neighboring countries, including Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guyana and Jamaica.