By JOSHUA MANI
ACCORDING to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), trafficking in persons is a serious crime affecting millions worldwide. The crime is sometimes described as modern day slavery.
On its website, the Justice Department defines trafficking in persons as the process of recruitment and transportation of an individual from their community or country of origin to a destination, through the use of deception or force or any other means set out in Sections 208C and 208D of the PNG Criminal Code Act 1974 for the purposes of exploitation.
In a 2020 trafficking persons report by the US State Department, PNG does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and was not making significant efforts to eliminate human trafficking. It identified that there was an acute lack of financial and human resources dedicated to anti-trafficking, as well as very low awareness among government officials and the public hindered progress.
Last January, Caritas PNG national director Mavis Tito told Radio New Zealand that they were pushing for the consumers of labour produced by human trafficking to be prosecuted as a means to curb the practice.
Against this backdrop, the IOM in partnership with Papua New Guinea Centre for Judicial Excellence (PNGCJE) carried out training for trainers’ workshop from Sept 3-4 last year to help judiciary officials, especially registry staff to properly identify and record human trafficking cases.
The 18 participants (nine men and nine women) were selected based on their experience and ability to further their skills and become trainers to others in their division on the subject so that everyone is educated in identifying and dealing with trafficking cases.
The training was facilitated by IOM counter trafficking and migration consultant Sharon James and PNGCJE programme officer Kila Vali.
“We believe that IOM doesn’t have to be the only organisation to run these trainings. We think that you can be equipped to actually conduct and run these trainings yourself,” James said during one of her presentations.
At the workshop, PNGCJE deputy executive director Sam Kaipu told the participants: “This workshop is not just a mere intellectual activity. There are men, women and children suffering from this horrendous criminal activity. Spare a moment to think of them during the course of the training.”
The workshop was part of a three-year IOM project to raise awareness on human trafficking, strengthen capacity of participants to identify cases and refer victims to specialized support services. The programme has been provided by the US Department of State Office to combat and monitor trafficking in persons in seven different provinces in PNG.
IOM is a founding member of the PNG National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, working closely with various government agencies, international and non-governmental organisations to support assistance and protection of victims of trafficking in PNG.
By JOSHUA MANI