What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking also referred to as modern day slavery, is defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of a person by means of threat or use of force or other means of coercion, or by abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or a position of vulnerability, or by giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2013
How does trafficking work? Who are the Victims of Human Trafficking?
What leads to Human Trafficking?
Usually, the common thread amongst human trafficking victims is some form of vulnerability like:
- Gender inequality
- The absence of equal opportunities and economic hardship
Other contributing factors include:
- Demand for commercial sex
- Demand for cheap labor
- Weak judicial and law enforcement systems and civil instability
Who is Responsible for Human Trafficking?
- Traffickers can be anyone! They see people as goods, the means to an end, simply to be sold or used for their own financial gain.
- Traffickers use effective tactics to lure and control victims. These include false promises of financial rewards and greater opportunities.
- Traffickers may be connected to an organized criminal network, or may act alone.
- Traffickers prey on individuals who have financial and other needs (at risk children, women, men), using lies, intimidation or force.
Recruiting Tactics of Traffickers and Baiting Techniques
- Advertise in local papers or television stations for high paying jobs in great locations
- Use fraudulent employment, modelling, and matchmaking agencies to lure young men/ women
- Offer opportunities to travel
- Meet families directly in local villages to convince parents to place children in their hands with a promise of a better future for all of them – the target and the family members who stay behind
The National Response: The evolution of ATIPS
In 2003, the Anti-trafficking in Persons Task Force was established to coordinate the efforts of the Government of Belize to prevent and combat trafficking in persons and to provide support and protection to victims.
In 2005 the Executive Branch of Government changed the status of the Task Force to that of a Committee, ‘The Anti Trafficking in Persons Committee’ and in 2006 the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Human Development was appointed Chair of the said Committee.
In 2013, the committee’s status was legally elevated to a council by Section 5 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2013.
The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Council operates from a multi-sectoral approach. It is comprised of representatives from the following ministries and agencies:
- Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation (Department of Human Services)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Attorney General’s Ministry
- Immigration Department
- Office of Public Prosecutions
- Police Department
- Labour Department
- Customs Department
- Health Department
- Belize Tourism Board (BTB)
- The National Committee for Families and Children (NCFC)
- National Organization for the Prevention of Child abuse and Neglect (NOPCAN)
- Youth Enhancement Services (YES)
- The 2013 Act places a responsibility on persons to furnish information to the relevant authorities where there is reasonable cause to believe that an offence under the Act is or was committed.
- “21. A person who knowingly or having reasonable cause to believe, that an offence under this Act has been or will be committed, intentionally omits to give any information respecting that offence to the relevant authorities, commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of three years or to both”.
Countrywide efforts are greatly assisted by the general public that call in to report suspected cases of exploitation and human trafficking. Numbers to call are:
- The Police Department in towns and villages countrywide (911)
- Crime Stoppers Belize 0-800-922-TIPS(8477)
- Department of Human Services