U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Belize
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||12 June 2007|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Belize, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be39f23.html [accessed 16 September 2014]|
Belize (Tier 2)
Belize is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Central American women and children are trafficked to Belize for exploitation in prostitution. Girls are trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation, sometimes with the consent of close relatives.
The Government of Belize does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The Government of Belize made substantial improvement in combating human trafficking since release of the 2006 Report. In February 2007, the government took a critical step to confront official trafficking-related corruption by arresting two police officers for human smuggling; a third police officer was arrested for allegedly exploiting a trafficking victim. More steps must be taken in this key area for the government to advance its anti-trafficking goals. The government also should consider increasing penalties for sex trafficking, and increasing law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute traffickers.
The Government of Belize made solid progress overall in the past year. The Government of Belize prohibits all forms of trafficking through its Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Act, which prescribes punishment of up to five years' imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. These penalties are sufficiently stringent but are not commensurate with higher prescribed penalties for other grave crimes such as rape. An interagency trafficking-in-persons committee leads government efforts to prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and raise community awareness about human trafficking. The government reported two trafficking prosecutions, but no convictions for trafficking in 2006. Four foreign tourists were prosecuted for child sexual exploitation offenses and a fifth was expelled from the country. The government conducted raids of brothels and increased anti-trafficking training for police, magistrates, and immigration officials. The government also cooperates with foreign governments on international trafficking cases, and joined the Latin American Network for Missing Persons in 2006. Complicity in trafficking by law-enforcement officials appears to be a significant impediment to prosecution efforts.
The government improved protection services for victims in 2006. The government opened two shelters for trafficking victims in mid-2006, and provides limited funding to local NGOs for additional services. Authorities in Belize encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. There were no reports of victims being jailed or penalized for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked. Belize also provides temporary residency for foreign trafficking victims, and other legal alternatives to deportation or removal to countries in which they would face hardship or retribution.
The government stepped up efforts to prevent human trafficking during the reporting period. Ministers and other high-level government officials repeatedly condemned trafficking in speeches and public statements. Since June 2006, the government has sponsored anti-trafficking campaigns and messages on television, radio, and in newspapers. In July 2006, the government's trafficking-in-persons committee met with members of Belize's Indian community to discuss human trafficking and involuntary domestic servitude. The government also worked with Belize's tourism industry to draft a code of conduct to prevent child sex tourism. The government funds local NGOs to promote other prevention efforts.