Kamina Johnson Smith (CMC)
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KINGSTON – The Andrew Holness led administration has condemned the acts of slave trading reportedly taking place in Libya.
In a statement during the sitting of the Upper House on Friday, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said the government is committed to working with the international community to curtail the “despicable trade in human beings, wherever it occurs around the world.”
She said the United Nations, along with its member states must continue to publicise and educate citizens of the existence and different forms of modern day slavery and its consequences, especially on the most vulnerable.
“We encourage all countries to take the necessary measures within their borders to identify and eliminate this abhorrent practise, and in this regard, we note and welcome even with caution announcements emerging from the African Union/ European Union Summit in Cote D’Ivoire . . . where specific actions are to be taken to address the situation of migrants of Libya,” she said.
In the meantime, Senator Johnson Smith said even as the acts in Libya are condemned, Jamaicans should also focus their outrage and offence on issues occurring locally.
“Modern day slavery is not limited to the inhumane treatment of African migrants on the continent. It includes the young girl in rural Jamaica answering an advertisement in the paper promising on the job training in customer service, who finds herself forced into prostitution or threat of death if she seeks to run away.
“(It also) includes the young boy who lost his parents and is taken in by a member of a neighbouring community but who is made to work seven days per week, not attend school, not play, and he is given little food or drink, but an abundance of beatings,” she added.
Johnson Smith said the Government is taking steps to increase awareness of the different practices and working to reduce the vulnerabilities of the population.
“In that regard, work has crossed administrations, and we have established an inter-ministerial National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons, in which the foreign ministry is involved.”
She said as part of the country’s campaign against human trafficking, Jamaica was most recently an active participant in the United Nations High Level Meeting on Trafficking in Persons, held in September 2017.
Johnson Smith said while legislative frameworks are in place and task forces have been trained, “we still have to look around us and be aware of matters that should be reported.”
Meanwhile, as Jamaica observes the International Day for the abolition of Slavery today Johnson Smith reiterated the importance of safeguarding human dignity.
“Let us pay special attention to the most vulnerable among us, as no form of slavery should be excused or tolerated in our societies. We must all remain vigilant to ensure the eradication of this scourge that is a stain on humanity, whether on the continent of Africa, or right here at home,” she said. (CMC)