Bar owner jailed for trafficking 14-year-old for labour

Jagetram Hariram, an East Coast of Demerara bar owner was sentenced last Thursday to three years in prison after being convicted for trafficking a 14-year-old for labour, according to the Ministry of Social Protection.

Hariram, who had been charged with the recruitment, transportation and harbouring of the teen for the purpose of labour exploitation between February 1st, 2016 and March 18th, 2016, was also fined $100,000.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Social Protection on Friday called the conviction a testament to the commitment of the ministry, led by Senior Minister Amna Ally, to purge Guyana from the notoriety associated with being a known source and destination country for which men, women and children are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.

It noted that the Counter-Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Department of the Ministry of Social Protection has aggressively tackled human trafficking through training, sensitisation and awareness campaigns and providing victim support services to survivors of human trafficking in 2017. It further said the department has commenced implementation of its 2018 work programme, which is designed to bridge the remaining gaps and continue to build on the achievements of 2018.

According to the Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act 2004, forced labour is defined as “labour or services obtained or maintained through force, threat of force or means of coercion or physical restraint.”  It defines a minor as any person below the age of 18.

After being ranked on the United States Department of State’s TIP Report as a tier-2 country for three consecutive years from 2013 to 2015, on June 27th, 2017, Guyana was reclassified as a tier-1 country. Being a tier-1 country means the government has fully met the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards.

Last Friday, acting Police Commis-sioner David Ramnarine reported a significant decline in TIP cases, with the total number moving from 38 in 2016 to 14 cases in 2017. “We believe that the reduction in TIP is fundamentally a result of awareness through visits, educational programmes, provision and access to much needed training both local and foreign; robust implementation and execution of the National Acton Plan for trafficking in persons; and greater cooperation and collaboration among the agencies of the Ministerial Task Force on TIP,” Ramnarine said.

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