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Nov 2, 2017

As Training Takes Place, Belize Buckles Up to Tackle Trafficking

Earlier this year, Belize was ranked in Tier Three by the U.S. State Department as one of the worst offenders in the region for trafficking persons. Considering that Belize was previously in tier two as late as four years ago, it was a long hard fall fueled by persistent reports of high-level complicity in the practice. Today the U.S. Embassy, in coordination with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, announced the conclusion of training on forensic interviewing techniques for victims of human trafficking to over sixty-five Government of Belize officials from five different agencies: Human Services; Police; Immigration; Customs; and Department of Public Prosecutions. A statement from the Embassy reiterates the continued effort to support the Government’s efforts to reduce human trafficking. This follows a visit by Belizean officials in August to Washington to liaise with authorities there on how to get the country back on the right path. Ministry of Human Development C.E.O. Judith Alpuche told us last week that while Belize continues to dispute its ranking as compared to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines or Barbados based on similar lack of convictions and arrests, the work continues and the groundwork is being laid. 


Judith Alpuche

Judith Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Human Development

“We are continuing on, on the road of ensuring that we address human trafficking. We cannot manufacture arrests. We cannot manufacture victims. We deal with it as we see it and one of the things that although we only have one prosecution under the new law. One case has gone before under the new law. That case was won. The person was convicted. Maybe not the penalty that we wanted – for sure we would have preferred incarceration, but that just goes to show, these things takes time, they are very complex and one of the things that we noted when we went to Washington is that they have confirmed – the F.B.I., the people working on these issues confirmed that it takes a very long time to investigate these things and it takes a very long time to have arrests and prosecutions.”

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