TIPs hotline established to report human trafficking, assist victims

TIPs hotline established to report human trafficking, assist victims
Min. of National Security Marvin Dames

Dial 376 – 8477(TIPS). Hotline is operational 24 hours a day, Monday – Friday

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Ministry of National Security has assisted in the execution of several initiatives to  fight the inhumane practice of human trafficking, mainly the establishment of a Trafficking in Persons (TIPs) Secretariat, a TIPs vehicle and a TIPs hotline.

While giving his contribution to the 2019/2020 Budget Debate last week, Minister of National Security, Marvin Dames, said the launch of a TIPs Hotline will be different from all other hotlines, because it will only respond to members of the public with information regarding trafficked persons or victims caught in the throes of trafficking.

“This TIPs Hotline gives suspected victims another option to obtain assistance and will accelerate the response time by authorities to victims of trafficking,” Dames explained.

“Let me stress that the purpose of this hotline is to assist all within our borders, irrespective of status, nationality, race, gender or age.

“The hotline is operated 24 hours a day and 365 days a year and, while new, it hopes to disrupt and eradicate this form of human slavery for personal or organized gain.”

Dames said callers will be able to access the TIPs Hotline by dialing 376 – 8477(TIPS) which is operational 24 hours a day on Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Persons can dial 326 – 0133; and/or Family Island callers can access the hotline toll-free by calling 300 – 3339.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and it involves the trading of humans for the use of forced labour, sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation.

While many may be of the opinion that such activity does not exist in The Bahamas, it is a real phenomenon.

The Bahamas as a major migratory route between the Americas and Caribbean often means that thousands are at risk as they seek a better way of life.

Simultaneously, persons in The Bahamas with limited awareness of the phenomenon are themselves at risk for being exploited.

Dames said the Trafficking in Persons (TIPs) Secretariat will serve as the nexus of all TIP initiatives, with a core of dedicated personnel and the purchase of a TIPs vehicle, which will bring visibility on the streets and more awareness to this menacing act.

A total of $100,000 was allocated in the 2019/2020 budget to address Trafficking in Persons and to focus on the four pillars of trafficking, namely: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnership.

The Tips Unit has been actively engaging in new ways to prevent human trafficking; protecting victims who have been or suspected of being trafficked; maintaining the status of those prosecuted for suspected cases of trafficking; and engaging in effective partnerships to increase the general populace knowledge on the topic.

Dames said to date, the TIPs Unit has trained members of the public from various sectors of society, which includes 139 teachers; 3,034 students in New Providence; 468 students in the Family Islands and 717 law enforcement officers.

According to the International Labour Report (2014), trafficking in persons profits the global market with US$150 billion dollars annually.