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Protocol on reporting human trafficking a must

The local media is being urged to work with the Ministry of Home Affairs in establishing a reporting protocol to deal with issues of human trafficking.

And, Minister of Home Affairs and Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite, has instructed the committee on Human Trafficking to organise a training and education session for members of the media so they could work together.

Brathwaite made these comments yesterday while speaking to the media following a prize-giving ceremony for the Coastal Hazard Mascot competition at the Crane Hotel.

“The media has a role to play because if young ladies or young men are suspected victims you don’t expect to see their faces across the newspapers or across television on the seven o’clock news, because it is an area that is very sensitive and we want your cooperation,” Brathwaite said.

He explained that it was not fair to splash the images of a person who was the victim of human trafficking across the pages of the newspaper or on television to add to the trauma for them and their families.

“I would like us to work together to establish some kind of protocol to assist these victims and get them identified,” the minister said.

He added that it was important to sensitise all Barbadians that such persons were victims in many instances and should be treated differently.

Brathwaite also stressed that victims of human trafficking were not criminals, and therefore, the institutional framework needed to be in place to ensure that victims were treated with a level of sensitivity.

He also noted that the committee which he chaired, was established last year, and was successful in sensitising and educating the public about issues to human trafficking.

“We believe what we are seeing now is as a result of the efforts of the committee not only in educating members of the public, but also training and educating members of the Immigration Department, the Royal Barbados Police Force, and all of the actors who are involved,” he said, adding those who were trained stated that the sessions had opened their eyes to the whole issue of trafficking.

However, the Attorney General confessed that while the issue concerned him at all levels, he was particularly worried that there was no way of knowing who was involved.

“You could have an elderly individual involved, but then you could have young people involved… It could be the ordinary looking guy on the street. That is the challenge that we have as a society not only in identifying victims, but in identifying perpetrators. It could be your next door neighbour, a member of your staff, my staff, that is why training is important,” Brathwaite stressed.

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