Human Trafficking in Belize; how to legislate change
At this morning’s launch, Ministry of Human Development C.E.O., Judith Alpuche, acknowledged that Belize maintained its tier two status on the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report for 2012, which means that country is making strides but there is still work to be done. The report looks at the three P’s of fighting trafficking in persons; Prevention, Prosecution and Protection. Alpuche spoke about the efforts being made locally in those three areas, including an announcement about important pending legislation.
Judith Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Human Development
“Under prevention, we have seen the strengthening of the work permit committee and although it has taken a lot more time and effort from the three entities on the work permit committee, I think it is efforts that are well invested and the reason why I put it under the rubric of prevention is because there is a direct link to my mind with regards to what is happening with regards to the screening on the work permit committee and really trying to prevent people from coming in as victims of human trafficking. 00:13:08 because we are not seeing, by and large, people coming in through illegal means, they are coming in with work permits and through the proper border crossings by and large. Finally, finally the commercial sexual exploitation of children, the laws reaching the point where it is going to Cabinet in the next two weeks. It has been a long and arduous journey but finally the CSEC laws are going into Cabinet and the Human Trafficking laws—applause—the human trafficking laws are going to be on its way to Cabinet very shortly. We have had agreement from the Chief Justice himself and from the Chief Magistrate that they will meet along with the D.P.P. and other legal minds to review the current draft and I think that’s an incredible plus in terms of being able to get the views of the bench vis-a-vi what we’re going to propose to Cabinet and later on of course the National Assembly. That’s more the prosecution end. Under protection, we are really exploring with Youth Enhancement Services to set up a shelter for young women who are victims of human trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation and so we’re in dialogue and looking together for funding for that to happen if not late in the year, early next year.”
According to Alpuche, the ministry is also entering into a three year partnership with NOPCAN to begin mandatory reporting of child abuse and provide training in all primary and high schools throughout the country.