Posted: Monday, July 1, 2019. 4:49 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: After four years of receiving the worst ranking, Belize’s ranking on the United States Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, prepared by the Department of State has improved.
The annual report, which ranks 187 countries as either Tier I, Tier I2, Tier 2 Watch, or Tier 3, released this week with Belize ranking at Tier 2.
The TIP Report highlighted Belize’s notable achievements since the last report and also pointed out areas where the country still needs to improve its efforts. Notable successes for Belize included initiating two new prosecutions for the first time in four years; designating a Supreme Court Justice and a Magistrate Judge that will give special attention to human trafficking cases and establishing an anti-trafficking unit of the Belize Police Department, with five full-time officers dedicated to anti-trafficking work.
The report also noted that the Government of Belize (GOB) did not launch any investigations or criminal proceedings against public officials for complicity in trafficking-related offenses, nor did it convict any traffickers for the third consecutive reporting period.
The Human Trafficking Institute, which formally began working with GOB back in 2017, explained that Belize’s improvement in rankings comes from GOB’s efforts to meet the minimum standards for the elimination in human trafficking that are outlined in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which include the implementation of laws that protect victims and have stiff penalties for offenders.
“We are encouraged by the efforts made by the Government of Belize during the last year to improve the implementation of their anti-trafficking laws and the subsequent recognition by the U.S. Department of State. Those efforts should have a very positive impact as they work to hold more traffickers accountable and provide relief for victims of trafficking,” said Dave Rogers, Institute Director of Law Enforcement Operations.
Commissioner of Police Chester Williams and Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte also expressed their delight at the ranking improvement, both acknowledging that it was a multi-agency effort that improved Belize’s standing on the report.
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