National Security Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says human trafficking has become a major activity in the criminal underworld, with statistics indicating that it is the third most lucrative crime behind drugs and trafficking in firearms.
“Trafficking of our young adults is a lucrative business. It is growing, and as we get on top of dealing with the drugs and firearms trades…. it means the criminal organisations [are] losing money and they will look to other areas, and clearly one of those areas is human trafficking,” he said.
Dr. Chang was addressing the official launch of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs in Schools initiative on Thursday (October 3) at the Dunoon Technical High School in Kingston.
He said that human trafficking is described as a modern-day form of slavery.
“It is something that we have to not only protect those who are exploited against but the country has to find a way to stop the entire activity. It is still as lucrative a trade as slavery was [although] it is not as visible,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Minister commended the 11 institutions across the island that have already joined the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs.
Among them are Port Antonio High, Portand; Garvey Maceo High, Clarendon; St. Hilda’s High, St. Ann; Christiana High, Manchester; Calabar High, St. Andrew; and Dunoon Technical High.
Dr. Chang said that the initiative aims to sensitise young adults about human trafficking in order to prevent them from becoming victims.
“I think this particular effort is a most valuable effort in dealing with the trafficking issue, because the vulnerability is here, and if we can control it and stop it, this will go a far way in reducing the damage to our young adults,” he noted.
For his part, Head of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Vice Squad, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Carl Berry, said the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs in Schools programme will facilitate discussions on the issue.
“We will have direct links to your guidance counsellors, deans of disciplines and principals via WhatsApp. In the event there is a topic that is too heavy for the discussion, then you could invite us to your club meetings. We intend to visit all schools with clubs,” he said.
DSP Berry noted that one of the reasons for the initiative “is to ensure that people who are a part of the club can get superior information in order to fight and protect themselves against human trafficking”.
Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose, including forced labour or sexual exploitation.