Guyana dismisses US report on human trafficking

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee said the local TIP Task Force is convinced that the report is a complete misrepresentation of the Guyana situation.

Speaking on the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN), Rohee said that Guyana’s response took some time because the TIP Task Force dissected the report so as to make a comprehensive response which required a complete analysis.

He said having done so, the Task Force is convinced that the report was a complete twisting of the true situation.

“The report was totally rejected, and in fact we took into consideration Cabinet’s position on the matter because Cabinet was discussing the matter while we were discussing the matter on the task force,” Rohee said.

He said President Donald Ramotar had also made reference to the TIP report at an Investment Conference held at the Guyana International Conference Centre in late June.

“So we took guidance from President Ramotar’s statement, Cabinet and that helped to influence what we formulated as a response to the US State Department.”

The local TIP Task Force said it would no longer be cooperating with the US Embassy here in Guyana with respect to TIP.

“We have been faithfully, and in a very dedicated and committed manner, fulfilling all that we know to be our obligations…concurrently whenever the US Embassy circulates a questionnaire to the government in order for us to complete on issues which they would have an interest in, we would do so, and when we send it back and the reports are published there is very little reference to the government’s position,” Rohee said.

“We don’t expect them to be lovey-dovey with us in relation to Guyana’s position of TIP, but the least we could ask is for them to reflect as faithfully as possible without any editorialising, without any interpretations given to the factual responses that we gave in the questionnaires they circulated on an annual basis.”

Rohee said that with regards to Guyana’s new TIP rating and its international image, this would depend on who is making it a big issue.

“When we look at the transnational organised crimes, drug trafficking, we and the international community basically agree that Guyana is a trans-shipment point for drugs.

“In this country there are no drug labs, none have been discovered the only thing that we find here is the cultivation of marijuana,” he said, noting that the government has formulated policies and a National Drug Strategy Master Plan to address the drug situation here.

With respect to firearms being smuggled into the country there are also programmes and policies to address that as well.

“Guyana is not known as a drug empire… so if we are working to address those under controllable circumstances it seems to me that the same applies for the TIP,” Rohee said, insisting that Guyana has to maintain its national position which is not an artificial/cover-up position or one where evidence is being stifled.

“Our national position which is based on information collected by government agencies and departments is that TIP is no worse than smuggling of firearms and drugs in and out of Guyana… in fact it seems to us based on the intelligence that we receive that it is not as worse as those two other issues,” he told radio listeners.

He said the government cannot dictate to the local courts how it should function as he responded to the US claims regarding low conviction rates for those involved in trafficking of people.

“If a person is alleged to be involved in trafficking and it comes to our attention, first and foremost the police are alerted and the police do what they have to do. If the police is convinced and they have incontrovertible evidence that this person is indeed a trafficker they send to the DPP for her advice.

“If the DPP is convinced that the evidence the police has sent up to her is convincing and she recommends that the person be charged and placed before the courts for TIP …it now rests with the arguments between the complainant and the defendant to convince the court,” he said.



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