Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Marcia Gilbert-Roberts; and Chargé d’Affaires, United States Embassy in Jamaica, Eric Khant, signed the agreement on Thursday at the Ministry’s New Kingston headquarters.
As part of the agreement, the United States will provide Jamaica with funding valued at US$4.5 million for projects and other related activities over a period of four years.
Mrs. Gilbert-Roberts, in her remarks, said that the objective of the partnership is to save Jamaican children and at-risk youth from being trafficked.
“One of the most valuable assets for the future of any country is its young people – our children. We are pleased, therefore, that Jamaica was invited by the Government of the United States to participate in this project,” she noted.
She said that the MoU signing represents another milestone in Jamaica’s relations with the United States.
“Without partnerships of this kind, our journey towards achieving our targets under the sustainable development goals and Vision 2030 would certainly be more extensive and arduous,” she said.
Mr. Khant, for his part, said his Government is pleased to be partnering with Jamaica on this initiative, and stressed that human trafficking is a very serious offence which must be eliminated.
“Approximately 2.5 million people are victims of human trafficking every year and many of those victims are children. This type of modern-day slavery should not exist in our society…because of that, we work closely with our international partners to fight this heinous crime, and we’re delighted that we can now partner with Jamaica under this Child Protection Compact Partnership,” he noted.
Mr. Khant said the four-year agreement will help to strengthen Jamaica’s ability to prosecute and punish traffickers, identify and provide comprehensive services to victims and prevent these crimes from happening.
“Our hope is that together, we will be able to eliminate child trafficking altogether in Jamaica and the wider region,” he added.
Jamaica is the fourth country to have been selected for a CPC Partnership and the first country from the Caribbean region. The others are Ghana, Peru and the Philippines.
The Government has been tackling human trafficking through public education and training and capacity-building measures under the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit, set up in 2005, has been making gains, with 76 victims rescued and 19 persons arrested and charged for violations. Millions of dollars in fines have been secured.
These initiatives will be strengthened when they are merged with activities under the CPC Partnership.
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