Miners on Thursday were urged to help in the fight against trafficking in persons even as they were warned that the scourge could have negative implications for the gold industry.
The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) at its AGM on Thursday honoured Simona Broomes, the woman miner who has spearheaded a vigorous campaign on behalf of women miners and against trafficking in persons.
Last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry had recognised Broomes- who is also President of the Guyana Women Miners Organization (GWMO) – as one of the 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Heroes. Over the last year or so in particular, Broomes and the women of her organisation have spearheaded daring rescues of women and under-aged girls who have been lured into the interior in the quest for betterment but have been sexually exploited. The GWMO has also sensitised communities in the interior to the scourge of human trafficking.
At the AGM, Harding handed over a plaque to Broomes in recognition of her work and urged miners to assist Broomes and the GWMO in whatever way they can. In brief remarks, Broomes said that if TIP is not reined in, there could be negative consequences for Guyana’s gold. She said that while she was in the US, others suggested that countries with TIP problems like Guyana should face sanctions and consumers should not buy gold from such countries. In this light, she warned that there could be a backlash if TIP is not actively combated here.
Executive Coordinator of the GGDMA Colin Sparman told Stabroek News that the association has supported the GWMO in the past, in areas such as logistics. He noted that the issue is a sensitive one and victims would be more receptive to women while lauding the work of the GWMO.
Asked about the pervasiveness of the problem, Sparman said that “based on the definition of it…it would be widespread.” He explained that a “very extensive chain” of persons would be involved in transporting and harbouring the victims to where they eventually end up. Sparman said that the problem would be acute in certain, more remote locations. “I think it is widespread and we [have to] deal with it,” he said adding that the authorities ignored the issue in the past but now there are examples that show that the problem exists.
Last week, President Donald Ramotar had said that the US State Department’s human trafficking report, year after year “fails to take …account of Guyana’s realities” and is inconsistent in its method of ranking Guyana, and fails to take into account reports and facts that Guyana has to submit. “We are unfairly judged and unfairly ranked,” the president said. He said that US has far worse versions of the same challenges that Guyana faces and Guyana has stepped up efforts but this year was downgraded. The president also said that he does not believe a lot of what is written is true.
US Ambassador to Guyana D Brent Hardt had said that TIP happens in every country but the challenge is dealing with it. “It’s not about how big the issue is…it’s about what you do when those cases come up and to try to uncover those,” he said.