Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Guyana
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||4 June 2008|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Guyana, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a1b21.html [accessed 1 February 2015]|
GUYANA (Tier 2 Watch List)
Guyana is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. While official reports of human trafficking may be limited, most trafficking appears to take place in remote mining camps in the country's interior. Amerindian girls are trafficked to brothels near the mining camps and to coastal areas for sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. Young Amerindian men are exploited under forced labor conditions in mining and logging camps. Some women and girls trafficked into brothels in the interior are from northern Brazil. Reporting from other nations suggests Guyanese women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation to neighboring countries such as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Suriname, Venezuela, and that Guyanese men and boys are subject to labor exploitation in construction and agriculture in these same countries. Trafficking victims from Suriname, Brazil, and Venezuela transit Guyana en route to Caribbean destinations.
The Government of Guyana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. While the government has undertaken a commendable initiative to increase public awareness of the dangers of human trafficking through a nationwide outreach campaign and advertising of its anti-trafficking hotline, Guyana is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a second consecutive year for failing to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking, particularly in the area of law enforcement actions against trafficking offenders.
Recommendations for Guyana: Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence trafficking offenders; confront trafficking complicity by public officials; utilize proactive police strategies such as brothel raids to rescue victims from trafficking situations; provide greater victim assistance; and expand anti-trafficking training for police and magistrates.
The Government of Guyana made only limited progress in law enforcement efforts against traffickers over the last year. The government prohibits all forms of trafficking through its comprehensive Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, which became law in 2005, and prescribes punishments ranging from three years' to life imprisonment, depending on whether the defendant is convicted on summary judgment or indictment. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other grave crimes, such as rape. However, the government has yet to produce an anti-trafficking conviction under this 2005 law. Since June 2007, the government initiated six trafficking investigations, which is level with the number of investigations reported for 2006. There were no government efforts to investigate or address labor trafficking crimes, despite NGO reports of exploitation and abuse in the nation's mining and timber camps. In October 2007, a female suspect was formally charged with trafficking two teenagers for purposes of sexual exploitation. The defendant was freed on bail, and is scheduled to appear in court in June. Another trafficking investigation involves allegations against a policeman. Prosecutors addressed five cases which had been languishing in court for years by dismissing them. Prosecutors report that police and magistrates remained unfamiliar with the country's anti-trafficking law, and cases tried in the capital moved at a slow pace due to judicial backlog; this excessive delay may have discouraged some victims from pursuing their traffickers. Trafficking cases also suffered from a lack of coordination between police, who receive victim complaints and prosecute cases in lower courts, and the Director of Public Prosecutions, which prosecutes more serious matters. Most trafficking prosecutions are handled by untrained police prosecutors, and are routinely adjourned and dismissed. The government also has reported that prosecutions of trafficking offenders may be more difficult in rural and interior areas, where infrequent court sessions and untrained magistrates lead to the dismissal of cases. Technical training would assist the government's police and prosecutorial efforts. The Guyanese government in February committed to a British-led reform project that addresses some of these skill gaps. Use of proactive police techniques and unannounced inspections of labor camps in the nation's interior also would very likely lead to greater results and more victim rescues. In July 2007, the government added human trafficking to its list of most serious crimes, but the effect of this pronouncement on the handling of trafficking cases is unclear. There is reliable evidence of public complicity in trafficking by lower-level officials. A corruption-related charge filed against a police officer in 2006 was dismissed in May 2007 for want of prosecution.
The Government of Guyana sustained a modest level of victim assistance during the reporting period. The government operates no shelters for trafficking victims, but it included limited funding for anti-trafficking NGOs in its 2008 budget. These NGOs provide shelter, counseling, and medical assistance for victims of abuse, including trafficking victims, but are limited to coverage in the nation's capital. The government also provides medical attention and funding for the repatriation of foreign trafficking victims. Government officials have worked with IOM on victim identification, and additional anti-trafficking training would assist the government's efforts, particularly with respect to identifying minors in prostitution as trafficking victims. There were no reports of victims being penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Guyanese authorities encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, but some victims did not testify due to long delays in the judicial system and for fear of reprisal from their traffickers. The Guyanese government did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution.
The government increased prevention efforts during the reporting period. Senior government officials publicly condemned human trafficking, and the government conducted a widespread educational and awareness-raising campaign, which reached more than 50 communities and 5,000 citizens across the country. The government also established an interagency anti-trafficking task force, and increased advertising for an anti-trafficking call line to assist potential victims. It did not, however, carry out any efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period.