GHRA says unreasonable standards in US trafficking in persons report can be counter-productive

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) yesterday said that it was disturbed over the strategy adopted by the US State Department of threatening negative consequences for what it considered inadequate results in the elimination of trafficking in persons.

The GHRA said the report was one of the many issues discussed at its last executive committee meeting.

“The reports for recent years contain lists of measures adopted by the Government of Guyana (GoG) in the areas of prevention, awareness, protection of victim, and prosecution of perpetrators,” the statement from GHRA said.

It pointed out that the criteria for bi-lateral evaluation of a country’s economic, social and cultural rights performance “ought, in our view, to be the internationally accepted standard of ‘progressive implementation’.”

“By such standards, the reports themselves recognize noteworthy compliance on the part of the GoG,” the GHRA said.

According to the GHRA for reasons not explained in the report, the US appears to hold countries to the higher standard of eradication, which no country, including the United States, can reasonably claim to have achieved. It said insisting on unreasonable standards can be counter-productive, by provoking governments to stop trying to meet US demands at all.

And according to the human rights body the issue is not whether TIPS is taking place in Guyana, nor whether the government is responding to it.

It said while the government can claim with some justification to have made serious efforts to counter the problem, in some respects the problem appears to be getting worse.

“The GHRA understands that an average of around ten females per day enter Guyana by bus from Brazil in groups destined for mining areas. This may involve trafficking and almost certainly prostitution,” the statement said.

It was however acknowledged that monitoring this phenomenon is rendered more difficult by porous, under-policed borders and complicated legal definitions.

“A more defensible form of US involvement in TIPS would be to support greater official cross-border cooperation between the countries involved – senders and receivers – than by demands which are often impossible to comply with,” the statement added.

At its recently concluded heads of government meeting in Jamaica, Caricom leaders expressed deep concern about the US continually placing several of the region’s countries in the Tier 2 Watch list TIP annual report as countries that are placed in this category for three consecutive years will be subjected to sanctions.
A communiqué from the meeting said the leaders 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 the United States to provide evidence to support the allegations made in its 2010 TIP report.

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 the U.S. to provide the evidence to support its conclusion that the country has a “significant” number of TIP cases.

Hours after the report was released, in a fiery condemnation of 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 U.S. 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.”

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