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Health workers learnt to identify suspected human trafficking victims

Belizeans are not used to hearing of cases of human trafficking, particularly, in their own neighborhood.  The unfortunate reality, however, is that many times it could be playing out right next door and we wouldn’t be able to identify it.  While the country is still finding its way in countering and preventing cases of human trafficking, the Anti Trafficking in Persons Council (ATIPS) is teaching individuals on how to identify the victims of human trafficking.  A workshop is underway for a few days; and, as explained by a representative of the council, Michelle Segura, community health workers around the country are the participants.

Michelle Seguro – Anti Trafficking in Persons Council: “The training is a 101 Human Trafficking Session which covers the definition of human trafficking: relevant sections of the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Act, common indicators to help identify potential cases and how to refer potential victims to the appropriate authorities. The participants involved are community health workers across the country of Belize. The training is a part of the national strategy so the council is working on building the capacity of key stakeholders in the identification and referral of potential trafficking in-person cases so community health workers are of course key stakeholders and we are working on building their capacity to identify and refer  suspected cases, especially those who work in rural areas who may have very limited resources. We hope that the training will strengthen their skills to identify and refer suspected cases that they might encounter on the ground. As part of the training, we are preparing to hand out field cards with indicators that have been customized particularly for healthcare providers so the information will assist us specifically with identifying suspected cases, providing support and assistance to potential victims who may otherwise not have been identified.”

While Segura also spoke about the indicators that these health workers could look out for in order to identify suspected victims, she also made the distinction between human trafficking and human smuggling.

Michelle Seguro – Anti Trafficking in Persons Council: “A lot of people confuse human trafficking and human smuggling so they use it anonymously. Trafficking could be legal, illegal or no border crossing, it could happen in your country so Belizeans could be trafficked by Belizeans. The commodity is the individual so the crime is against the person, it is a human rights violation because that person is exploited. In order for a case to be human trafficking there are three main elements which are the act, the means, and the purpose so the act could be the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons. The means would be by threat, force, coercion, abduction and the purpose will always be exploitation. Human smuggling on the other hand is the illegal crossing of the border, it is often times  voluntary but the crime is against the state. Common signs can be old bruises, in a lot of instances they come with someone who speaks on their behalf so they don’t speak for themselves. They may be dressed inappropriately for someone their age or for the weather conditions, malnutrition, dehydration, lack of routine screening and preventative care, untreated skin infections, behavioral indicators such as anxiety or panic attacks, conflicting stories, inability to make decisions on their own, overly vigilant or paranoid behavior and the other one that I mentioned was that someone speaks on their behalf.

157 participants and was a collaborative effort between ATIPS, the Ministry of Health and the Youth Enhancement Services. The training started on June 15 and will end tomorrow./////////