The split in official responsibility in dealing with TIP is a significant factor in the dislocated manner in which trafficking matters have been addressed

Dear Editor,

Help & Shelter recognizes with great respect the recent actions of GWMO members in rescuing four victims of trafficking in persons (TIP) despite the risk to their personal safety.

The reported failure of officials of state agencies to render assistance, even when one of the persons involved was abusing and threatening the rescuers, and attitude of the police to the GWMO’s intervention are to be deplor-ed.

The subsequent handling of the matter by the social services also suggests that their personnel’s understanding of how to handle trafficking matters, and in particular to give priority to the needs of the victims, is sadly lacking.

We hope that adequate law enforcement resources will be used to ensure that the other persons responsible for trafficking the four girls are pursued, apprehended and charged without delay.

We also hope that the GWMO will be provided with resources to continue the work that they have so bravely undertaken and which they are so well placed to pursue.

In the short time since the organization was formed, they have shown that they are perfectly placed to bring cases of TIP to light and to assist victims to escape the bondage in which they have been placed.

The split in responsibility for dealing with TIP ‒ the TIP unit is in the Ministry of Human Services & Social Security but enforcement of the TIP legislation comes under the Ministry Home Affairs and that ministry is responsible for the TIP Task Force (on which Help & Shelter is represented) ‒ is in our view a significant factor in the dislocated manner in which trafficking matters have tended to be addressed.

The recent events have again highlighted the urgent need for a better approach to addressing TIP. Better systems to receive and act on reports, to arrest, charge and speedily try offenders, and to assist victims to overcome the trauma of their harrowing experience are urgently needed, and we urge the government to do all that is required to effectively address these issues.

More sustained public awareness campaigns about TIP are also required.

Help & Shelter stands ready to continue to work with all agencies and organizations to combat human trafficking.

Yours faithfully,
Denise Dias
Danuta Radzik
Yvonne Quintin
Gaitrie Shivsankar
Margaret Kertzious
Josephine Whitehead
For Help & Shelter

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