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Tackling Human Trafficking

As the movement of people continues to impact countries across the globe, the Cayman Islands is frequently reminded of its status as a transit country for irregular migrants; most of whom originate from Cuba. In response, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has taken steps to strengthen policies, practices, and capacities to effectively manage what has been a sustained surge in migrants arriving via irregular channels. Additionally, the Ministry is keenly aware of the potential for human traffickers to infiltrate migrant flow routes. From this perspective there are implications especially for those migrants that transit Cayman waters in route to other countries including Honduras and Mexico.

Human trafficking is the movement of people for the purposes of exploitation (sexual exploitation, forced labour, or enslavement), which is a heinous crime, violation of human rights, and a challenge of global magnitude. The United Nations (UN) responded with the publication of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Supplementary Protocols. The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (the Palermo Protocol) provided the first definition of human trafficking and is still the benchmark for defining human trafficking today. Accordingly, the Cayman Islands responded with the Trafficking in Persons Law 2007, which gives full effect to the UN Convention and Palermo Convention.

Michael Ebanks, Assistant Chief Officer for the Ministry, and Joey Scott, Acting Assistant Chief Immigration Officer travelled to London last week where they each successfully completed the first part of a professional qualification programme with a specialization in Human Trafficking Countermeasures and Policy Development. The course, which was facilitated by the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, covered subject areas including neurobiology of trauma, anti-corruption, economics of transnational organized crime, and transparency in supply chains.

Mr. Ebanks and Mr. Scott studied alongside 20 senior officials from ten countries spanning the United States, Europe, the Middle East, India, Australia, and British Overseas Territories. The participants represented key organisations in the fight against human trafficking including the United Nations, the European Migration Network, the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the International Center for Transnational Justice, as well as the telecommunications company, BT. "It's important to realise that those of us in the public safety and national security space cannot stop the sale and exploitation of human beings on our own; this is a shared responsibility among everyone, including companies. To start with, we all need to ask - what is human trafficking?; how does it affect me; and what can I do about it?", said Mr. Ebanks.

Participation by BT indeed highlights that the company disclosure requirements under the new UK Modern Slavery Act has potential to disrupt human trafficking in supply chains. Commercial organisations subject to the Act must report annually on the steps that they have taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in their own business or in their supply chains. The Act, which took effect on 29 October, 2015, applies to all organisations with a turnover, or group turnover - that is, the total turnover of a company and its subsidiaries - of £36 million or more which are either incorporated in the UK or carry on a business in the UK.

"As the Act is in effect, overseas companies with subsidiaries in the UK will need to analyse whether the Act applies only to their UK subsidiaries or also to the overseas parent. Similarly, overseas organisations that supply goods or services to UK-based customers, but which do not have an office or employees in the UK, will also need to analyse the application of the Act to their business," said Mr. Ebanks.

For further information contact:

Wesley Howell, Deputy Chief Officer

Ministry of Home Affairs

Tel: (345) 244-2469

Media Resources:

  • Stop the Traffik, Facebook
  • Brian Woods' (BBC) Documentary, Modern Day Slavery
  • UK Modern Day Slavery Act 2015