Lady Allen and I are very pleased to be with you for our Annual Youth Consultative Conference. As you know, these Conferences have become one of the highlights on the annual calendar of The Governor-General’s Social Programme.
The Conference provides young people with the opportunity to share their ideas on topical issues that affect them and the country. In past years, we have discussed various topics, including:
• The Logistics Hub Initiative.
• Youth and Community Involvement.
• Youth Empowerment.
• Drug Abuse, and
Following on our robust discussion on Mental Health at last year’s YCC, we are now lending our support to the cause of fighting the emerging pandemic – Human Trafficking.
Today we will hear of the ways in which we can assist and commit ourselves to this ongoing and complex problem.
Given the explosion of activity and information on the subject, our IBI Ambassadors recommended that we address this topic at this year’s iteration of our YCC. We have seen numerous newspaper articles, television documentaries, reports, and discussions highlighting the problems of Human Trafficking.
WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING?
Human Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery which exploits persons for monetary gain. It is something that happens in other countries, but it is also very active within our shores.
In 2005, the Government of Jamaica established the National Task Force against Trafficking in Persons. In that same year, the Jamaica Constabulary Force set up the Anti-human Trafficking in Persons Unit, headed by DSP Carl Berry. To date, almost 80 persons have been rescued without incident.
The National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Children’s Advocate, Mrs Diahann Gordon Harrison, in her first Report in July 2018 observed, and I quote “Trafficking in Persons remains an issue that has the capacity to threaten Jamaica’s economic and social stability” end quote. That 138-page Report is an eye-opening document, which highlights the enormity of the situation that faces Jamaica.
Both Mrs Harrison and DSP Berry have been fearless and relentless in their advocacy and action in relation to Human Trafficking. I commend them for their vigilance and hard work in bringing public awareness to this vital issue, and working assiduously to save our Jamaica children.
Despite the Trafficking in Persons Act, which was passed in 2007 and further amended in 2018, the practice of trafficking continues unabated. According to the Global Slavery Index, Jamaica is ranked 117 out of 167 countries and has a Tier 2 rating.
PREVALENCE OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
• Human trafficking is the third-largest criminal activity in the world and is a nine billion dollar industry!
Unfortunately, even countries that are signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that speaks about torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment, have no difficulty in practicing Human Trafficking. Unfortunately, young people between the ages of 18 and 35 are most vulnerable.
• It is estimated that 27.9 million adults and 13 million children around the world are victims of human trafficking, and not just for labour, but also for organ harvesting.
• Young people, the social networking services that we love so much and which have become an integral part of our lives has the potential to be used by unscrupulous persons to facilitate human trafficking.
As an example; a recent Newsweek article tells of the ordeal of Ena Matsuoka, a member of the J-pop Group in Japan, who was stalked by a man who had pieced together her location from photographs she posted on social media.
The reflection of a bus stop was visible in her eyes and he used Google Street View to find the area of her home. He used other photographs to determine her apartment where he waylaid her and sexually assaulted her.
PREVENTION & SOLUTIONS
The Trafficking in Persons Curriculum was introduced in Secondary Schools in September 2015 and in May this year, the Port Antonio High School created
history when they became the first school in the Island to establish an Anti-Human Trafficking Club.
The Programme was rolled out in all schools last month (October), and I am sure DSP Berry will tell you more about this project.
In July 2017, I had no hesitation in signing the Proclamation marking the last week in July as Trafficking in Persons Week and July 30 as World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. Since then, each year, Jamaica joins the rest of the world in observing this Day.
Today’s YCC is made possible by the input, effort and interest of:
1. The Honourable Custodes who have worked assiduously to gather the young people across the country and to take them back home safely
2. The IBI Ambassadors and their Management Committee
3. Our Sponsors (as listed in your program brochure)
4. The GGPE National Coordinator and the Staff of Kings House, et al.
Today we want to engage the IBI family in a vibrant discussion of this very important subject, let’ s talk candidly so that the next generation of nation builders are knowledgeable and harness their effort against Human Trafficking.
If we want to act responsibly and help this national effort against Human Trafficking, It is everyone’s duty to “Be wise, open your eyes, spot them, stop them, and report them.”