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Feb 20, 2023

Belize’s First Human Trafficking Academy

Belize’s first human trafficking academy commenced today at Umaya Resort on the Placencia Road in southern Belize. Engaged in the week-long training are personnel from the justice sector, including human rights agencies, the Belize Police Department, the judiciary and other government departments as they are learning tools and techniques used in trafficking in persons investigations, resources and concepts. The academy is being held through partnership with the U.S. Embassy, the Government of Belize’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Council, the Human Trafficking Institute and the Pan American Development Foundation. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

There are twenty human trafficking cases under investigation in Belize at this time. Sixty-five percent of the suspected victims are female minors, adolescents. In an effort to reduce vulnerabilities in communities often targeted by traffickers, there is need for a more proactive approach in addressing the exploitation of people.  Traffickers are finding new and innovative ways to commit this crime and avoiding authorities. The human trafficking global academy is an intervention.


Dolores Balderamos-Garcia

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Minister of Human Development

“The objectives of this training are firstly to increase understanding of the tools and techniques used in trafficking in persons investigations. Secondly to provide new resources and concepts to improve movement of TIP cases within our justice system and thirdly, to provide practical experience in TIP investigation – from the initial report of a case, through the sentencing to increase understanding and collaboration amongst us in trafficking cases. This global academy training symbolizes our commitment to build partnerships to tackle human trafficking. It symbolizes hope for families and people of Belize and as chair of the ATIPS Council, we are all too aware that improving our response to human trafficking requires consistent capacity building, recognising that strong multisectoral coordination and collaboration is a critical success factor.”


Human trafficking is being described as modern day slavery, with the International Labour Organization reporting that twelve point three million persons are victims of forced labour at any given time; two point four million of whom are as a result of trafficking. Chief Magistrate Sharon Fraser speaks of the trauma and the vulnerabilities associated with the crime.


Sharon Fraser

Sharon Fraser, Chief Magistrate

“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud, deception with the aim of exploiting them for profit. Men, women and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime which occurs in every region of the world. It can happen in any community and victims be any age, race, gender or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, false promises of well-paying jobs and people even romantic relationships. The language barrier, the fear of their traffickers or the fear of law enforcers frequently keep victims from seeking help which makes human trafficking a largely hidden crime. In most recent reporting period, our achievements have included convicting two traffickers, applying adequate sentences, expanding the size of our anti-trafficking police unit, which I understand has increased investigation, improved data collection and case monitoring.”


Today’s inauguration of Belize’s first anti-human trafficking academy is another step to ensure that the rights of all those exposed are protected. Among the most common forms of human trafficking is sexual exploitation and forced labour. U.S. Ambassador to Belize, Michelle Kwan says that all stakeholders have a role to play.


Michelle Kwan

Michelle Kwan, U.S. Ambassador to Belize

“When we are talking about human trafficking, we are talking about human beings that are essentially bought and sold to other human beings. A combination of political, cultural and social circumstances can create environments in which traffickers can more easily prey on the vulnerable. We all have a role to play in dismantling these networks and protecting the most vulnerable among us.”


Human trafficking is driven by a global demand for cheap, unscaled, exploitable labour and global profits from forced labour total an estimated forty-four point three billion dollars annually. It is the second largest, but fastest growing criminal industry worldwide after drug trafficking.  Duane Moody for News Five.

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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