BAHAMAS-MIGRATION-Bahamas making trafficking in persons a priority -Minister.

NASSAU -- The Bahamas government says it has made trafficking in persons a priority because of its many unfortunate consequences and the threat it poses to national security. National Security Minister Bernard Nottage addressing the Joint Meeting of the Trafficking in Persons Inter-Ministry Committee and the National Trafficking in Persons Task Force said trafficking in persons is a heinous transnational crime that impacts thousands of persons the world over wreaking havoc on its victims.

It is accepted that trafficking in persons is modern day slavery. Its victims are men, women boys and girls who are recruited, transported and harboured by means of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, deception, fraud or abuse of power for the purpose of exploitation. The exploitation takes place mainly for sexual purposes or forced labour.

Nottage said that the reality is that many of the persons who are exploited for sexual purposes do not themselves realize that they are being trafficked and are viewed by the average citizen as engaging in prostitution.

Many employers who are engaged in labour trafficking see nothing wrong in having an attitude of ownership of their employees; withholding their passports and other documents; working them hours that contravene the employment laws of The Bahamas; and in conditions that are unsatisfactory.

Nottage said that the Perry Christie government is determined to fix these vexing problems through education and attitudinal changes and is depending upon committee members to be motivated towards the achievement of this noble and attainable goal.

Just a few years ago, the general view was that trafficking in persons did not exist in The Bahamas, and that it was being confused with human smuggling. Since then, considerable efforts have been made towards identifying trafficking in persons.

Over the past two years, The Bahamas has assisted three foreign victims of trafficking in persons and successfully prosecuted two trafficking in persons cases with the traffickers sentenced and taken off the streets, said Nottage, adding that so far this year, law enforcement officers here have investigated 13 potential trafficking in person's situations to determine whether there was any evidence of trafficking in persons present.

Where there was no tangible evidence, the matters were not pursued. One of these investigations, however, has resulted in a prosecution that is ongoing in the magistrates' courts.

During the meeting...

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