Ministry staff trained to care for child trafficking victims

STAFF at the Ministry of Justice’s Victim Services Division (VSD) are now equipped with the skills and tools to identify and care for victims of child trafficking.

The more than 30 staff members received training in child trafficking identification and referrals as part of the Jamaica Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership agreement signed between Jamaica and the United States of America in 2018.

Winrock International, one of the implementing partners, facilitated the training of staff between 2020 and 2022. Also, in collaboration with the Jamaican Government, Winrock developed several tools including a National Referral Mechanism and a Child Trafficking Indicator, which have been endorsed by the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons.

The objectives of the training were to build organisational capacity in the area of child trafficking, and to equip new and existing staff with the tools and skills necessary to provide support for suspected and confirmed victims of child trafficking.

Programmes manager at the VSD, Sheron Betancourt said education in trafficking is essential as it is “the first step on the road to eliminating it, as well as it provides an important foundation for VSD staff — as service providers — to recognise the indicators of human trafficking and learn how to appropriately respond”.

Betancourt added that the training has formed part of the division’s arsenal of tools to provide care to victims of crime, including trafficked victims.

“Since the start of 2022 the VSD has screened seven children. These tools and procedures are entrenched into the VSD’s operations manual along with job aids, monitoring and evaluating plan, as well as a training plan for new and existing staff,” she shared.

The Victim Services Division is the arm of the ministry that is mandated to provide therapeutic interventions to victims of crime. This mandate is carried out islandwide through 14 parish offices. The VSD offers a full suite of services designed to care for the emotional needs of victims and optimise victim participation in the justice process. Among these are counselling, mediation, crisis interventions and special intervention projects targeting specific vulnerable groups.

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