By Aaron Humes: Belize remains on the Tier 2 Watch List of the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, released in June.
Cabinet has responded this week by approving steps to improve performance in combatting this issue in Belize, calling on all relevant ministries to implement the recommendations made in the report where appropriate. In addition, Cabinet restored funding to enable implementation of the plan.
The issue is one for the Ministry of Human Development headed by attorney Dolores Balderamos Garcia.
In recent years, the Government’s officials have been directly accused by Washington of complicity in human trafficking, which drew howls of disbelief from then-Prime Minister Dean Barrow, then-Human Development Minister Anthony “Boots” Martinez, and then-Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte. One issue complained of, police taking on side jobs working at nightclubs and similar establishments which are believed to sponsor trafficking in persons, was ended by then-Police Commissioner Allen Whylie, whose office assumed responsibility for approving officers working additional jobs as, essentially, private security.
Cabinet also approved the completion and validation of the protocols for accompanied and unaccompanied migrant children in Belize. It said, “This protocol requires validation prior to its implementation and is guided by national, regional, and international conventions and gives priority to children’s right to life, survival, security, and shelter.”