Minister Fonseka opened the meeting by thanking all of the concerned agencies for their hard work and commitment and looked forward to their continued support in 2021. He stressed on how it is a very healthy part of our democracy to ensure that Trafficking in Person is mitigated to a lower level than it is at present. The Seychelles is currently on a ‘Tier 2 Watch List’. He went on to add that in a previous virtual meeting held with the US Charge D’Affaires in Mauritius Mrs Jude DeBaere, it was established that Seychelles could count on their support towards our effort in combatting trafficking.
Mrs Linda William-Melanie, the Chairperson of the Committee noted that, despite all the hard work done by the committee which has been in existence since 2014, they were in need of more support considering all of the various internal changes within Government which has made the already hectic task at hand all the more challenging.
The Committee has finalised the TIP Questionnaire which provides information on the progress made in combatting, investigating and prosecuting trafficking in person cases in the country. The questionnaire has been submitted to the US Embassy in Mauritius for compilation of the TIP report 2021.
Seychelles has been engaging with UNODC for the past months as UNODC is currently conducting a regional legislative assessment of the national legislation related to Trafficking in Persons of the 13 Member States of Eastern Africa, including the Seychelles framework.
Furthermore, UNODC has pledged their support to 13 Member States of Eastern Africa to enhance effective and victim-centred criminal justice responses to Trafficking in Persons. This will be achieved by providing the necessary training which includes training curriculum for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, counsels and judiciary officials, an e-learning platform and a mentorship and management of cases pending trial and determination.
Amongst other issues, the prime focus of the discussion was the recommendation of the TIP Report 2020 for the Anti-Trafficking Action Plan for Seychelles which contains specific goals and objectives to implement a standard operating procedure to identify victims of trafficking, to provide specialized training to government officials, increase efforts to investigate, prosecute and convict traffickers using the anti-trafficking law, allocate sufficient funding and resources for victim services and front-line officials, establish a designated shelter where trafficking victims can receive comprehensive care, finalize and adopt a national action plan to drive national efforts to combat all forms of trafficking, implement the requirements of the 2014 anti-trafficking act, adopt a law prohibiting the retention of passports by employers of migrant workers, conduct an anti-trafficking awareness campaign to increase the understanding of the crime among the local population and foreign tourists and migrant workers, utilize the national centralized anti-trafficking data collection and reporting tool and lastly to continue to implement labor laws, including a strong oversight and inspection authority in all of the Seychelles.
It is to be noted that the Trafficking in Person has become a major concern in the age of world migration caused by socio-economic changes across the world.