Broomes to clamp down on illegal shops in interior

Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources,Simona Broomes

MINISTER within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes,has re-committed to clamping down on illegal shops in the extractive sector,which are fostering human trafficking,for the new year.Minister Broomes, who was among several TIP Heroes recognized by the U.S Department of State in 2013, said that there are a lot of illegal shops operating in the extractive sector.
It was explained that while some shops sell fuel and much needed food items, the majority are involved in the sale of alcoholic beverages and prostitution. What is needed, she said, is the implementation of the regulations governing the establishment of businesses in the mining districts.
“If a person has a business, they must have a licence, and the licence says clearly, no woman of immoral behavior. Where there is no licence for a shop, one should not be,” Minister Broomes stated clearly.
Due to their remote locations, women and even men and children are lured to various areas within the mining districts on the basis that they will be employed.However,there have been cases in which women in particular are forced into prostitution.
The Junior Natural Resources Minister noted that the Ministry’s crackdown will form part of a major sweep of the extractive sector which will be done twice a year.
In 2016, Minister Broomes, based on her wealth of experience in combating human trafficking while being head of the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO), spearheaded a training programme targeting Mines Officers and Forest Rangers.
It is expected that in 2017, posters will be erected across the mining districts to further educate persons about the illegalities surrounding Trafficking in Person.
In 2016, Guyana was taken off the U.S. government’s Tier 2 Watch list for Trafficking in Persons (TIPs). The announcement was made mid-2016. However, the U.S. Government, in that report, called on local authorities to vigorously investigate and prosecute sex and labour-trafficking cases here and hold convicted traffickers accountable – including complicit officials – by imposing sentences that are commensurate with the gravity of the crime.
Since then the country has been making noticeable improvements. Just days ago, the Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons hailed the recent decision of a magistrate’s court to jail a woman who was found guilty of Trafficking in Person. The Task Force noted that on September 8, 2016, it had expressed concerns regarding the conviction of Joyce Lawrence of Plantation Grove, due to the fact that no jail time was ordered in accompaniment with the restitution ordered on the charge of ‘trafficking a 16-year-old female for labour exploitation’ and a fine levied on the charge of ‘unlawful withholding of an identification document’.
However, the Task Force expressed its satisfaction with the latest conviction for trafficking in persons in the Magistrates’ Court. On December 22, 2016, Sharleen Oxley, residing in Pattenson, Greater Georgetown, Guyana and Cayenne, French Guiana, was convicted of the offence of trafficking in persons in Georgetown Magistrates’ Court One.
The sentence given was three years imprisonment together with restitution for the survivor in the sum of two million Guyana Dollars (G$2M).
“The Task Force is pleased that the prosecution was successful in establishing a case beyond a reasonable doubt against the perpetrator of the crime, that a conviction was achieved, and that the penalties meted out were in accordance with the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act No. 2 of 2005.”
The Task Force said it is essential that verdicts in cases of trafficking in persons in Guyana are in line with local legislation and commensurate with the crime committed. “In this particular case, the Task Force is of the opinion that the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court through Her Worship, the Chief Magistrate, has set a satisfactory precedent which can serve as a deterrent to potential offenders and should become a standard from which there is no regression.”
The Task Force said too that it remains committed to working with the judicial and prosecutorial authorities in Guyana to improve efforts in ensuring successful prosecutions in cases of trafficking in persons, just penalties for perpetrators and last, but certainly not least, fair treatment and compensation for victims/survivors of the crime.