On Thursday, December 15th, 2022, the Human Trafficking Institute (HTI), the United States Embassy, and members of the Government of Belize celebrated the successful completion of HTI’s two-year initiative to combat human trafficking in Belize. In attendance for the ceremony were members from the Department of Labor, Justices of the Peace Association, Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of Human Services, Department of Local Government, the Belize Police Department, The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Council, the United States Embassy, and the Human Trafficking Institute.
The project titled A TIPPING POINT: Achieving Trafficking in Persons Prevention by Implementing New Government Protocols and Offering Innovative National Training focused on increasing the government of Belize’s ability to identify, protect, and provide relief for victims of human trafficking and strengthening the anti-trafficking response within the justice system through targeted trainings of prosecutors, magistrates and judges.
Over a period two years, members of the Human Trafficking Institute conducted countrywide training to over 80% of civilian frontline personnel within the Departments of Immigration, Labour, and Human Services, and 80% of magistrates, and supreme court judges. In addition to training, HTI prepared and provided best practice manuals and referral guidelines for frontline personnel, and a best practices manual for judicial officials handling trafficking in persons cases.
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Minister of State, Honorable Elvia Vega-Samos stated, “The Government, through its Anti-Trafficking in Persons Council is thankful for the partnership with HTI since 2017 and looks forward to partnerships in the future as we work towards eradicating human trafficking.”
The completion of the grant comes at the end of a successful year for Belize, after receiving a Tier 2 upgrade in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report from the U.S. Secretary of State in July of 2022. HTI Country Director Chris Lick stated, “HTI is honored to support the anti-trafficking efforts of the Government of Belize. The successful conclusion of this initiative would not have been possible without the trust and partnership established between the Government of Belize and HTI over the last six years. We looked forward to similar, future collaborative efforts to decimate trafficking in Belize.“
Since 2017, HTI has partnered with justice system agencies in Belize to ensure investigators, prosecutors, and social service workers are prepared to move human trafficking cases through the court system efficiently. In collaboration with other government and non-governmental agencies, HTI seeks to create sustainable, long term solutions to trafficking in the Country of Belize. To learn more about our work in Belize, click here.