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Dec 8, 2004

Human trafficking report to be released

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In June 2003, shortly after Belize was placed on a black list of countries not complying with minimum standards to prevent illegal migration and trafficking in humans, the government established a task force to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the situation and suggest ways forward. With the help of a consultant from the International Organisation for Migration, for the past year and a half a team of researchers has been touring the country, interviewing hundreds of residents on labour issues, sexual exploitation, and the smuggling and trafficking of persons. Their findings are now compiled in a rough draft but already insiders say the situation is festering and if left unattended could get worse. IOM’s Miguel Petit says there are no quick fixes to this worldwide issue.

Miguel Petit, Consultant, International Organisation for Migration

?The enormous challenge we have today for the States is that sometimes what we offer to that victim is even worse than what the traffickers offer to them. So if we don?t offer them shelters, if we don?t offer them assistance, if we don?t offer them possibilities to work to develop, they would prefer to continue around the place and decide that okay someday I will earn some money and run away.?

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Chairperson, Trafficking in Persons Task Force

?We do have a task force, but there is a need for a lot more coordination and there is a need for us to continue our training of officials across the Board. I can add also that what will become clear is that Government and other agencies will have to put some resources into certain areas for example the protection of victims. Because to be able to gain convictions in the courts or for persons who are accused of trafficking, we will have to be able to protect the victims so that they will be able to testify in a court of law.?

Petit was assisted by Belizean researchers Diane Haylock and Gaspar Martinez. The completed study is expected to be officially presented to the Government of Belize by early next year.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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