Jamaican Youth Forms Part of Solution In Fight Against Human Trafficking

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Jamaican children as at the start of October 2019, will be able to, in a structured way,  become a part of the many  solutions being implemented by the government  to combat the increasing menace of human trafficking in the country.

On Thursday October 3, the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP) launched the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Club  in 15 schools island-wide.  

In an exclusive interview with the Ocean’s News Network (ONN) news team Chenee Russell, Manager of the Trafficking in Persons Secretariat within the Ministry of National Security, explained some of the characteristics of the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the initiative.

“The strategy was set out as a school club, specifically to encourage younger Jamaicans to see the effort as fun and enjoyable, a methodology that the Jamaican Ministry of  National Security believes, will faster inculcate the identification of the criteria associated with human trafficking within  Jamaican youth,” said Ms. Russell.

Photo credit: Jamaica Information Service (JIS)

She also pointed out that “the clubs, are set up like the regular school extracurricular clubs, where youngsters are given the choice to join. The idea being, that those who choose to join the club, will work harder at the tasks set, in the club with true passion.”

Some of the identifiers the club members will be taught will include behaviors that imply that a community member appears to be acting under coercion in multiple activities. Another clue to be taught is a situation where a child is always in the company of adults, especially where it seems aberrant.

Ms. Russell also explained that children who are not doing regular age appropriate activities such as attending school or church are signs that need reporting . She explained that those who join the club will be taught that these and other signs are applicable to both adults and children.

Meanwhile the Manager noted that in an effort to see a high proliferation of the clubs over the next  12 months, there will be no club dues or fees attached to recruitment process.

The Ministry of National Security has partnered this initiative with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang, explained that with increased public awareness and participation, Jamaica should move further away from the Tier 2 classification it has been given in this area. In 2018, a report published by the US State Department on Human Trafficking classified Jamaica as Tier 2 – a source and destination country for adults and children subjected to human trafficking and forced labor. 

The Anti-Trafficking in Persons club will seek to promote and maintain public involvement in Jamaica’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons education. To intensify awareness, the clubs will also sensitize teachers to victim support, signs of trafficking as well as situations that can be potentially dangerous and lead to trafficking.

Dr. Chang, said these clubs will provide a forum for students and stakeholders within the school community to become more vigilant, by learning how to identify and address instances of vulnerability. Minister Chang said,  “increased awareness, especially among young people, may enable the reporting of suspicious activities, particularly when dealing with online predators”. 

In extending her support for the clubs, Ms. Russell, said “considering that young people are very vulnerable to human trafficking, the implementation of Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs provides exposure and knowledge to students that contribute to a better understanding of human trafficking and the circumstances perpetuating this criminal trade.”

She added that members and mentors of the clubs will be subjected to basic vetting to prevent criminal infiltration. The clubs are currently operational at the Wolmer’s Boys School, Port Antonio, Garvey Maceo, Marymount, Christiana, Kingston Technical, Yallahs, Mount Alvernia, Islington, St Hilda’s Diocesan, Vere Technical, Dunoon Park Technical, Kingston, Vauxhall and Calabar High Schools.

Human Trafficking is the movement of people through fraud/deception, threat, abduction, force, abuse, of positions of power or abuse of positions of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation includes subjecting victims to prostitution or involuntary servitude without pay.