By NAN Contributor
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. June 29, 2018: As the global spotlight continues to be put on the issue of sex trafficking, one Caribbean country has again received the lowest rank of any other regional countries.
The U.S. government on Thursday again slapped the ‘Tier 3 level label on the Central American CARICOM nation of Belize as the U.S. State Department on Thursday issued its 2018 annual Human Trafficking in Persons report under the theme: “Local Solutions to a Global Problem: Supporting Communities in the Fight Against Human Trafficking.”
In the report, the US said the Government of Belize does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so therefore it remained on Tier 3. It also claimed that allegations of trafficking-related complicity by government officials remains a problem.
Tier 3 is the US label for countries it deems have not met the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. Tier 1 is for countries that are meeting the minimum standards while Tier 2 countries have not met the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to do so. Tier 2 Watch List is for countries that are making significant efforts but deserve closer scrutiny.
SEX TRAFFICIKING IN BELIZE
The US report said Belize is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. It cited the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons which reported that family members facilitate the sex trafficking of Belizean women and girls.
It also said that sex trafficking of Belizean and foreign women and girls and LGBTI persons, primarily from Central America, occurs in bars, nightclubs, and brothels.
“Foreign men, women, and children—particularly from Central America, Mexico, and Asia—migrate voluntarily to Belize in search of work and are often exploited by traffickers who recruit victims using false promises of relatively high-paying jobs or take advantage of migrants’ illegal status to subject them to forced labor,” the report added.
The US State Department also said that some migrants are subjected to forced labor in restaurants, shops, agriculture, and fishing or to sex trafficking.
The US, however, acknowledged that the Belize government took some steps to address trafficking, including the identification of 17 potential trafficking victims and the investigation of nine trafficking cases. However, the State Department report said the Dean Barrow government did not begin any new prosecutions or convict any traffickers and did not investigate or prosecute any public officials for complicity in human trafficking-related offenses, despite allegations of a significant level of official complicity.