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Sep 28, 2006

Belize finally taken off Tier 3 human trafficking list

Story PictureThe Musa administration is tonight breathing a sigh of relief following an announcement by the United States government that Belize has been removed from the list of Tier Three countries with regard to Human Trafficking. According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, our new status means that the U.S. will “not impose sanctions or oppose any loan or utilization funds from multilateral agencies”. This afternoon Minister of Human Development Sylvia Flores told us that while Belize acknowledges that human trafficking is a serious problem, there is only so much we can do with limited resources.

Sylvia Flores, Minister of Human Development
?From the report we have gotten Janelle, there is no indication as to where we are at this point. All we have gotten to know is that we have been removed from Tier Three.?

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
?We know that a team visited Belize in June … what is it that convinced them that we were doing enough as far as eliminating human trafficking??

Sylvia Flores
?Well certainly we provided the team with our plan of action and I think they may have been supervising what we were doing basically. And based on reports that they may have been gotten from some the agencies of government that we were trying to arrest some of the persons who were alleged to be trafficking in persons, so I believe whatever efforts that we were doing in the Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs, they were aware of all we were trying to do to address and arrest this problem. It is now to find the resources to be able to sustain what we are doing. It is important to note also Janelle, that the problem might be bigger than we think it is, we don?t know. We are trying to do our best as you recognize because our borders are porous. We are trying to do as much as we can with our limited resources, so we are hoping that they will understand that we are trying to do our best. There is so much that is beyond us at this time.?

Janelle Chanona
?Can you tell us exactly what those resources would include??

Sylvia Flores
?Well certainly in mobilizing the different agencies of government. Our police department has to be alert, our immigration departments, our customs and our labour; they all have to go through training. That will be one area in which we build capacity to be able to arrest some of these situations that we confront.?

In June Belize was one of six countries placed on a Tier Three list by the U.S. for “not meeting minimum standards to fight trafficking in persons, a criminal practice”. Since then the government has launched a number of public education campaigns and other initiatives on the issue and while several arrests have been made, as yet no one has been convicted.

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