Belize joins anti human trafficking network
The term human trafficking conjures up images of frightened immigrants, packed like sardines into airless shipping containers and smuggled across borders into an uncertain future. And while the reality is usually less dramatic, the problem is no less real. Every day defenceless people, particularly the young, are being forced into lives of exploitation bordering on slavery. As News Five’s Jacqueline Godwin reports, it happens right here in Belize.
Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
Today Belize became the eight member country of the Latin American Network, a regional effort to combat human trafficking, locate missing persons especially children and reunite them with their families. The web based initiative is a project funded by Save the Children Sweden and endorsed by the Organization of American States.
Per Tamm, Latin/Caribbean Representative, Save the Children, Sweden
?In the Americas, a lot of children are on the move. There are children who run away from home for different reasons. One of these being mistreatment and family violence or children who want to join their immigrated parents and children who look themselves over. To this local children are abducted, victims of trafficking, illegal adoptions, smuggling and exploitation.?
The system includes a close working relationship with the police and involves information sharing with the participating countries. In Belize information will be available at www.missingbelizeans.org. It is hoped that visitors to the site will be able to recognize a missing person and provide the necessary details that will help locate the child.
Dolores Balderamos?Garcia, Chairperson, Anti ? Trafficking in Persons Committee
?Belize considers itself privilege but we also find it necessary to do all that we can. To be an integral part of all the efforts in the very important work of protecting the most vulnerable of our people.?
In Belize the police have become increasingly concerned over an increase of persons reported. Today the unsolved list stands at one hundred and twenty two. In the past two days the police and personnel from the Ministry of Human Development have been receiving the necessary training to manage the network operation in Belize. Prime Minister Said Musa explained why Belize should take full advantage of the service.
Said Musa, Prime Minister
?Belize though a small multi-cultural Central American and Caribbean nation has already been shown to demonstrate various vulnerabilities, such as: easily accessible border crossings, a long coastline for maritime access and other institutional considerations. It is therefore incumbent on us to take preventative action to ensure that we do not become a haven for those who are intent on exploiting others.?
(Children singing, “We are the World”)
The various parties are also counting on community support to make the initiative a success.
Jacqueline Godwin for News Five