Commissioner of Police Calls Hopes Legal Changes to Combat Human Trafficking in Belize
The Commissioner of Police is hoping that changes can be made to the laws of the land to assist in the fight against human trafficking in Belize. This week, the US Department of State issued its 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report and announced that Belize has remained in the Tier 2 rank. According to the report, Belize has shown significant effort in tackling the issue of human trafficking, but unfortunately, the country has not convicted any traffickers, nor have they initiated any new prosecutions. Commissioner Williams further added that while it may be the case, the police’s efforts are hindered by several factors which prevent them from prosecuting alleged offenders.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “We cannot prosecute people if they are not caught committing the offense. We can’t convict people if they are not before the courts. You see, this whole trafficking issue it is a complex one. It is not as slam dunk as one would want it to be. Like the report said, we are making great strides. We are doing what we can to address the issue. But at the same time, we have to understand that prosecuting persons who are suspected of human trafficking do require the cooperation of the persons who are being trafficked. And we find that many a times when we encounter the situations, the people who we believe are being trafficked refuse to cooperate. So if they refuse to cooperate with the investigators then we can’t go anywhere. And that’s why I would like to see an amendment to the law to say that if you withhold the passport person who works with you or an immigrant who is working with you, that itself should constitute an offense because many times the employer has the passport. Why would you have the passport of an employer? It must be to control the person, right? So that should be an offense as far as I’m concerned and I think if that is done we’ll be able to prosecute more people for human trafficking.”
The country was also noted for the government’s collaboration in making a shelter available for trafficking victims.