Caricom concerned over US people trafficking ranking

–asks Washington for evidence

Caricom leaders have expressed deep concern about the US continually placing several of the region’s countries in the Tier 2 Watch list of its Trafficking in Persons (TIPs) annual report as countries that are placed in this category for three consecutive years will be subjected to sanctions.

A communiqué from the just concluded Heads of Government meeting in Jamaica said the leaders have since extended an invitation to the US government to engage in dialogue with the community on the matter in advance of the issuance of the 2011 TIP report.

The leaders also called on America to provide evidence to support the allegations made in its 2010 TIP report.

According to the communiqué, the Heads of Govern-ment reiterated their commitment to combatting trafficking in persons and they noted the existence of appropriate legislation and the adoption of policies of prevention, prosecution and victim protection which have been implemented in their member states to address the crime.

“Heads of Government are concerned that the 2010 Trafficking in Persons report and previous reports issued by the United States State Department were not prepared through a consultative process and that many of the allegations could not be substantiated.

In addition, the United States has rejected requests by affected member states to provide evidence in support of their allegations,” the communiqué said.

Guyana is one of the countries that strongly objected to the report which once again placed the country on the Tier 2 Watch list and had called on America to provide the evidence to support its conclusion that the country has a “significant” number of TIP cases.

Hours after last the report was released, in a fiery objection to its contents, Minister of Human Services and Social Security Priya Manickchand labelled it as “crap” and said it was “based on sheer ignorance and eye pass.” Several of her cabinet colleagues also expressed their outrage.

However, the US State Department later said it stood firmly behind its 2010 TIP report on Guyana, while the government indicated its intention to take its protest to the US Congress in an effort to “correct these misleading reports.”

Ambassador-at-Large Luis C de Baca of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons had told local reporters at the US Embassy via a video link from Washington that the information contained in the report was accurate and its sources were authentic.

Asked whether the US would consider withdrawing the report in the face of strenuous objections from Guyana, the ambassador offered a terse, “No”.

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