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Human Trafficking Institute hails Belize’s climb on trafficking in persons list

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Trafficking in Persons Report, 2014

Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2022. 9:55 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Human Trafficking Institute (HTI) has noted that Belize has successfully returned to Tier 2 of the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report List for the first time since 2013.

This achievement is the culmination of years of work by the Government and the Institute to address the issue, including prioritizing of anti-trafficking funding, growing the Police’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit and developing and implementing a National Action plan.

There have been, the HTI says, more investigations by Police in the last two years than in the three years before that, and more collaboration with the Department of Immigration; the Ministry of Human Development, Families, and Indigenous Affairs and its associated departments; the Social Security Board; and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to bring perpetrators to justice. These departments and bodies are all members of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Council (ATIPS) which has renewed the fight and secured the first convictions under the 2013 Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Act, in trials which featured video conferencing to allow victim-witnesses to testify from outside the courtroom.

HTI, with grant funding from the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) awarded by the U.S. Embassy, has led the training of 522 police personnel countrywide on victim identification and victim-centred investigative techniques. It also provides ongoing technical assistance and victim services coordination as police officers investigate human trafficking cases, to ensure that victims are properly identified, referred to appropriate services, and their captors caught.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tanya Santos Neal of the Ministry of Human Development, Families & Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs stated, “While we continue to strive to improve our response, we can take pause today to celebrate the recognition of our efforts as reflected in the TIP Report.”

“The Government of Belize has shown an increased dedication to fighting human trafficking. We are grateful to provide support where possible to help stop traffickers in Belize,” said John Freeman, HTI Director of Law Enforcement Operations.

 

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