#Jamaica, November 16, 2021 – Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, says the Government is committed to continuously strengthening legislation to tackle the scourge of human trafficking in Jamaica.
“If we consider our history in trying to manage this global scourge, since 2007… many within the bureaucracy have worked tirelessly to ensure that we continue to make a more robust framework to deal with this issue,” Senator Samuda said.
He was speaking during Friday’s (November 12) sitting of the Senate while piloting the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) (Amendment) Act, 2021. The Bill was approved without amendment.
Senator Samuda said work has continued under successive Administrations “to ensure that we get on top of this scourge.” He emphasised that this is crucial given Jamaica’s geographic location which places the country at risk of being exploited as a transit point and destination for human trafficking.
“Given the global and lucrative nature of human trafficking and its imminent threat to our people, the Government has taken the decision to proceed with amendments to the Act to remove the option of fines as a penalty for certain offences that are egregious in nature,” he said.
He noted that the Government is also looking to increase fines for the offence of threatening and obstructing a constable, from $250,000 to $1 million.
“Additionally, the amended Act creates a provision that empowers the Minister, by order subject to affirmative resolution, to make amendments to [the] monetary penalties,” Senator Samuda said.
He emphasised that the proposed amendments are timely as they reaffirm Jamaica’s commitment “to the appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, and the strategic priorities of the Government to criminalise trafficking in persons in all its forms, to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks involved in such crimes, and to forfeit their ill-gotten gains.”
“We will make these amendments and continue to strive for the rooting out of trafficking in persons, certainly within Jamaica, and playing our part in our region, not just because of international commitments, not just because it is a global scourge, but because of our own history and our own rejection of such crimes,” he further stated.
Senator Samuda noted that human trafficking is an “extremely lucrative” international crime which, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), generates approximately US$150 billion globally each year by preying on the vulnerable, including children, women, and marginalised persons.
“[Human trafficking] victims are subjected to unspeakable violations and harm. Fifty per cent of detected victims were trafficked for sexual exploitation, [and] 38 per cent were exploited for forced labour. Other victims are forced into marriage, begging, criminal acts, and armed combat,” he said.
Senator Samuda stressed that, universally, Administrations must reinforce legislation and policy parameters to combat the real and present threats posed by human trafficking, especially in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We must also acknowledge the urgency for these particular amendments when we contend with the [issue)] of COVID-19 and its economic effect making the most vulnerable within our society even more vulnerable to these threats,” he said.
The Senator told the Upper House that in February this year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that since the pandemic’s onset, the overall incidence human trafficking has worsened. He said the agency further indicated that the number of children among the detected victims tripled, with the ratio of boys increasing five-fold over the past 15 years.
Senator Samuda pointed out that consequent on these scenarios, the proposed amendments to the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) (Amendment) Act, 2021 are based on the need to create an Anti-Human Trafficking regime that discourages and promulgates deterrence of the offenders and recidivists.
The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) Act was passed in 2007 and amended in 2013 to increase the penalties.
It was again amended in 2018 to enable a judge to try trafficking offences without a jury.
The 2021 amended Bill was passed in the Lower House on November 3 with two amendments.
Contact: Alecia Smith
UN and OECS hosts Caribbean Waste Management meeting held in Jamaica
#Jamaica, September 24, 2023 – Caribbean countries met in Kingston, Jamaica, to take part in a regional training and technical exchange activity, courtesy of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to address the growing challenges of waste management and environmental sustainability in the Caribbean region; this is announced by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Held on the September 12-14, the workshop included the following objectives:
- Share good practices and lessons learned in the Caribbean for the improvement of waste data and statistics and associated indicators, especially from the four case study countries of the project.
- Strengthen waste information systems and capacity to deliver waste statistics by facilitating the integration of the Caribbean countries in the Waste and Circular economy Hub for Latin-America and the Caribbean.
- Promote the harmonisation of waste information systems in the Caribbean, strengthening their sustainability and enhancing regional cooperation in this field.
- Prepare draft work plans to improve the availability and reliability of data related to waste management and the circular economy.
- Network with peers, experts, and organisations involved in waste management and environmental conservation, fostering collaboration and information exchange.
In the statement, the OECS highlighted that the region is faced with various unique challenges in relation to waste management, and environmental conservation. It continued to express that as resource demand rises, the responsible management of waste becomes more essential.
However, it pointed to the Zero Waste in the Caribbean initiative, which it says was launched “to promote integrated and sustainable waste management in the context of a circular economy in the Caribbean.”
The Zero waste project is funded by the European Union, in collaboration with CARIFORUM, co-financed by the German cooperation and implemented by AFD, GIZ and UNEP, in partnership with the OECS.
Present at the opening of the meeting was H.E. Marianne Van Steen, European Union Ambassador who pointed to the importance of solid waste management strategies in the Caribbean. Her Excellency was pushing attention to the “Small Island Developing States”, which she says are facing specific roadblocks in finding effective ways to handle solid waste due to “their limited size and because of their limited waste management capacities.”
Considering the aim of the meeting, she continued to say that, “in order to face these challenges, waste data collection and management are key and the sharing of good practices and exchange of experiences during this workshop are essential and extremely valuable”.
The event was made possible through collaboration with the European Union, CARIFORUM, the German Development Cooperation, UNEP, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the French Development Agency (AFD), OECS and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), all committed to supporting sustainable waste management practices throughout the Caribbean.
It saw in person and virtual sessions as well as participants and saw the attendance of Government officials, environmental professionals, waste management experts and representatives from relevant organisations and institutions from across the Caribbean region.
UK Gov’t calls for proposals to handle sargassum in Caribbean
#UnitedKingdom, September 24, 2023 – The Government of The United Kingdom in recognizing the need for solutions to sargassum in the Caribbean is upping efforts by providing funding in order to attract research proposals on the invasive weed
Sargassum has been, for years now, plaguing regional counties like Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic, taking over their shores and affecting the quality of their beaches.
Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the UK Government, responding to requests from Caribbean leaders last week, invited partners to submit proposals for up to £300,000 (USD$374,000) before October 10.
According to reports, the research should advance commercial, scalable, safe solutions to process, sink or store the sargassum.
Amid this development, the Prime Minister expressed an understanding that “finding solutions to sargassum influxes could be vital to the Caribbean’s sustainable development and climate resilience.”
Smart City Project a Testament to Innovation, Progressive – Dr. Morris Dixon
#Kingston, September 24, 2023 – Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Dr. the Hon. Dana Morris Dixon, has hailed the New Kingston smart city project as a testament to innovation and a beacon of hope and progress for the entire nation.
Dr. Morris Dixon, who has oversight for Skills and Digital Transformation, was addressing a smart city forum hosted by the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Company at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on September 20.
The forum, held in collaboration with US-based project development firm Tuatara Group, was designed to highlight the benefits of a smart city, which is about using technology to drive efficiency in a sustainable way, while enhancing the quality of life of its citizens. This includes improved safety, public Wi-Fi, traffic management, urban planning and environment monitors, among other benefits.
The event also gave an overview of the feasibility study for the JPS Smart City Demonstration Project for New Kingston.
The utility company has been awarded a grant by the United States Trade and Development Agency for technical assistance to identify and deploy cutting edge technology and energy solutions in the business district and develop a roadmap for broader implementation of smart cities throughout the country.
JPS is promising to redefine urban living in New Kingston through smart city solutions such as a smart grid, intelligent transportation, and improved potable water supply, safety and security, solid waste, public health and environmental services.
President and Chief Executive Officer, JPS, Steve Berberich, said that the company has been investing in the New Kingston space with the rollout of smart meters and smart LED streetlights, among other solutions.
Dr. Morris Dixon, in her address, noted that technology is playing a pivotal role in refining the urban landscape, making these areas more resilient, efficient and people friendly.
She is urging citizens, as Jamaica strides into the digital era, to embrace technological innovations and adapt them to meet their unique circumstances and challenges.
She noted that the Government, in its digital transformation thrust, is not only about fostering new skills and digital literacy but “reshaping Jamaica for a new era where technology empowers our communities, businesses and institutions”.
Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Hon. Daryl Vaz, in his remarks noted that the concept of a smart city centres around creating spaces that are efficient, inclusive and sustainable for every citizen.
The smart city uses information and communications technology (ICT) to improve efficiencies, share information with the public and help provide better quality services to promote economic growth and improve the quality of life for all, he pointed out further.
Minister Vaz said that the Government is connecting citizens, through the provision of free Wi-Fi hotspots in more than 180 communities in rural and urban areas.
Noting that the smart city will also improve transportation for people, he said that Jamaica has set a goal of having 10 per cent of transportation powered by electric vehicles (EV) by 2030.
“The Government is doing that through the boosting of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) fleet with the addition of 45 EVs, which will ply the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR),” he said.
Contact: Chris Patterson
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