Local Government raises awareness of human traffickingOver 50 individuals participated in an intense two-day training course about human trafficking on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2 at the Shiloh Baptist Church Hall.
Human trafficking or modern day slavery is a global issue.
It is currently estimated that over 30 million people are enslaved by the human trafficking industry, more people than the entire populations of Australia and New Zealand combined. Human trafficking is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world at $32 billion per year.
No country is unaffected by this blistering reality of modern day slavery, by the reality of people being taken, moved through, or sold on the streets and in our cities and towns. Anyone can become a victim of this trade—any man, woman, or child.
The traffickers recruit, transport, transfer, harbor, or receive persons using threat of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power, and control. These victims of modern day slavery are then sexually exploited, or forced into labor, servitude, and even the removal of organs.
Chief Councillor for East Grand Bahama, Albertha Cooper together with the island’s remaining chief councillors and council members agreed that human trafficking is an issue requiring increased awareness without further delay.
Chief councillor Cooper commented, “trafficking is a serious issue and given our geographic location we certainly are involved, if not as a source country then as a transit and/or destination location. I have spoken to many of the professionals in both Freeport and Nassau who are actively involved in this issue—Social Services workers, educators, guidance counselors, law enforcement and medical professionals. Across this broad spectrum, interest in this training is extremely high.”
Cooper then reached out to BEST (Building Empowerment By Stopping Trafficking), a Florida not-for-profit organization that is leading the way in training individuals to identify, intercede, and counsel victims in the human trafficking industry.
The BEST training program covered analysis of trafficking in persons (TIP) in the Bahamas, discovery of trafficking operations using the Internet, identification of sex and labor trafficking victims, and appropriate questions to use in interviewing victims or perpetrators. BEST co-founders and certified life coaches Linda J. Sullivan and Etty Foodman, and advisory board members Victoria Brieant and Ben H. Bell III also presented trafficking control methods, special considerations for First Responders and community outreach, and an introduction to BEST’s Clubs for the schools and the certified coach training program.
Fourteen employees of Urban Renewal 2.0 Grand Bahama, and representatives from the Local Government districts of Grand Bahama, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Bahamas Customs Department, Ministry of Health, Department of Social Services and several volunteers earned certificates for completing the training. Comments from the trainees ranged from “eye-opening and disturbing” to “I can use the information and skills from this training in my work starting tomorrow!”
Michelle Reckley, Deputy Director of Urban Renewal 2.0 Grand Bahama, feels that the damages go beyond individual victims.
“These damages undermine the health, safety, and security of all nations. It increases global health risks and fuels the growth of organized crime,” she said. “We are living in a changing world. Therefore, I felt it necessary for Urban Renewal staff to participate in this timely and needed training. On a daily basis, many of us come in contact with individuals from all walks of life. I am appreciative to the organizers of this training because it provided all the participants, especially the staff at Urban Renewal 2.0 Grand Bahama, with the tools and skills necessary to effectively rise up and do their part in the struggle against human trafficking as they go about doing their daily duties.”
BEST is a multi-faceted and dynamic Florida-based organization that provides outreach, education and direct treatment services to human trafficking victims (www.beststoptrafficking.org).
It is the leader in establishing a holistic program that focuses on identifying victims of human trafficking and providing them with appropriate legal representation and Certified Life Coaches.
BEST offers the only global accredited program in anti-human trafficking where coaches act as experts on legal cases and work with the legal communities to reduce demand for trafficked victims and provide testimony, training and assistance to prosecute the traffickers.
BEST has the only outreach center in Florida that provides immediate assistance to trafficking victims by providing medical, psychological, legal, and coaching assistance on a pro bono basis. It also has a full service lifestyle center in Florida that readies survivors for their new lives, with skills, jobs and education to re-enter the world.
BEST is prepared to assist in establishing outreach and lifestyle centers in The Bahamas and has offered to establish the renowned BEST Club program in the Bahamian school system.
Chief Councillor Cooper speaking for all the participants expressed gratitude to the entire training team for delivering an outstanding and informative two days of professional training. Additional information regarding this horrific issue can be obtained from Chief Councillor Cooper at 727-3355.