2018 Trafficking in Persons Report focuses on power of local knowledge

WASHINGTON DC/PHILIPSBURG--United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo released the 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report on Thursday and the Dutch Caribbean islands are mentioned in the report as strong partners in the fight against modern slavery.
Aruba has been raised to Tier 1 in the 2018 Report. While this does not mean that there is not more work to be done, it does reflect the strides Aruba has made to increase awareness, training, prevention, protection and prosecutions over the past year.
St. Maarten was designated as a Special Case. The report states that in September 2017, the island experienced massive devastation by Hurricane Irma, the worst Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. The hurricane greatly impeded the government’s ability to report on efforts made prior to September and the prospects for additional progress in the remainder of the reporting period.
Curaçao kept its solid Tier 2 ranking. The Government of Curaçao does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Curaçao remained on Tier 2, according to the report.
The document is an annual publication documenting the efforts of 187 governments in combating human trafficking. Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons or modern slavery, is a crime of exploitation in which a trafficker compels an individual into service for commercial sex or labour or both, using a number of coercive or deceptive practices to keep victims from speaking out or asking for help.
There are an estimated 25 million victims of human trafficking throughout the world, trapped in a multi-billion-dollar industry that weakens the rule of law and strengthens criminal networks. National governments bear the primary responsibility in combating human trafficking, but they cannot do it alone.
This year, the introduction to the TIP Report highlights the importance of local communities in safeguarding the places they call home from the insidious effects of human trafficking. It encourages national governments to support and empower those closest to the problem as they face the challenges and consequences of modern slavery.
The impetus for community-based action can come from any number of sources – a concerned local official, an NGO raising the alarm, law enforcement investigating the crime, or an individual who simply wants to be a part of the solution. Once support has been garnered, there are several important steps a community can take to bolster its response.
The report also stated that it is important that communities build multi-stakeholder partnerships among all levels of government and between law enforcement, service providers, survivors of human trafficking, and other key community actors. Creating a task force may be one of the best ways to ensure coordination among the many facets of a comprehensive anti-trafficking strategy.
“Communities, with support from their national governments, can conduct an assessment to help better understand who may be most vulnerable to human trafficking, what services currently exist, and what gaps need to be addressed. Targeted training and awareness-raising efforts for those who may come into contact with victims of human trafficking are critical to a local response.
“Professionals, and especially those likely to interact with victims such as doctors, teachers, judicial officials, law enforcement officers, and business-owners, should be trained to recognise the indicators of human trafficking and know how to seek assistance. In addition, community-based organizations such as women’s, immigrant advocacy, and religious groups are well-placed to raise awareness among their members, who are often the eyes and ears of their communities,” according to the report.
The message of this year’s report speaks to the power of local knowledge and the strength of community ties. Modern slavery is a reality here in the Dutch Caribbean just as it is a reality in every region and country of the world. The U.S. Consulate General in Curaçao remains committed to working with the governments of the Dutch Caribbean to find ways to contribute to the solution.
The Daily Herald

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