Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness, and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking in Belize (TLEAP)- 2022-2024

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Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness, and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking in Belize (TLEAP)
Project 2022- 2024

On January 11th, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, RET launched its new project, “Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness, and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking (TLEAP), in Belize to introduce the project to the various stakeholders in the transportation industry at the national and local levels.

RET, in partnership with the Government of Belize and in collaboration with the ATIPS Council, will prioritize antitrafficking efforts within the transportation industry in Belize to build the capacity and knowledge of operators and local authority employees about human trafficking and apply formal procedures to identify victims of sex and labor trafficking among vulnerable groups. The project will strengthen the capacity of stakeholders within the Transportation Industry to identify and report suspected cases of human trafficking through a comprehensive training program and contributes to the Belizian governmental efforts in implementing the national antitrafficking information, education, and communication operational plan by raising awareness on Human Trafficking.

High-level attendees joined the kick-off meeting, including the Minister of Youth, Sports, and Transport – H.E Rodwell Ferguson; the Anti Trafficking in Persons Council Focal Point – Ms. Jaunna Murillo; the Political Officer from the U.S. Embassy – Ms. Sydney Skov, and Ms. Christine Valerio; multiple Mayors from the various municipalities across the country; Representatives from NGOs and CSOs involved in antitrafficking work; Representatives from the Belize Port Authority and Transportation Associations. During the kick-off meeting, RET presented the project activities, including the steps to gather baseline data about the knowledge, attitude, and practices of those in the transportation industry to determine the gaps and inform the content to be included in the Training Modules. 

The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Council Focal Point – Ms. Jaunna Murillo, within her remarks, shared, “…we want to empower the public and the private sector to be a part of this united effort against human trafficking in the country. I want to repeat the words of H.E. Minister Elvia Vega Samos earlier, the Government of Belize’s commitment to protecting our people from exploitation remains true, and we continue to see the value of strong partnership. This is because combatting a transnational crime such as human trafficking requires many’s expertise, resources, and effort. Just as we say it takes a village to raise a child, I believe it takes a country to address such a crime as human trafficking”. 

During his interview, the Minister of Youth, Sports, and Transport – H.E Rodwell Ferguson, shared, “Now, the target is the transportation industry regarding human trafficking. I fully support the idea, the initiative to complement the Ministry of Education’s endeavors to mitigate trafficking on the borders of this country. I am hopeful that today’s meeting is the beginning of a partnership with RET to make sure we try to mitigate human trafficking.”

RET’s Country Director, Mrs. Cherese Ferguson ended her welcome speech with, “Combatting Human Trafficking cannot be done by the ATIPS Council alone, cannot be done by RET alone, nor any individual or entity alone. Such an initiative requires collaborative and partnership efforts from everyone involved. 

About the project :” Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness, and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking in Belize (TLEAP)”

Human traffickers exploit legitimate systems within multiple sectors to conduct their trafficking activities, including hotels, banks, and transportation systems. In Belize, taxi operators, amongst other transportation systems, have been suspected of facilitating the transport of trafficking victims, which amplifies the industry’s vulnerability to being used by traffickers. Many industries must make fundamental changes to their systems to prevent, detect and disrupt human trafficking.

The project “Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking in Belize (TLEAP)” strengthens the capacity of stakeholders within the Transportation Industry to identify and report suspected cases of human trafficking through a comprehensive training program and contributes to the Belizian governmental efforts in implementing the national antitrafficking information, education, and communication operational plan by raising awareness on Human Trafficking.

The project has two objectives:
First, to strengthen the capacity of 540 public and private stakeholders from the transportation sector at the national level. The project proposes a comprehensive training program to combat human trafficking, including identifying the vulnerabilities in the transportation industry that can be exploited by traffickers and setting the procedures to identify victims, and, more importantly, reporting the cases to the relevant authorities. The project proposes a Training of Trainers (ToT) model to build a pool of competent instructors who can teach the material to other stakeholders in their respective departments/ministries beyond the project life cycle. 

Second, RET, in partnership with the ATIPS Council, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Transport, and the Departments of Transport in Belize will expand the ongoing public antitrafficking awareness campaign by disseminating prevention-based materials in all public transportation, including bus terminals, bus sheds, water taxi terminals, taxi stands, at the international airport, and in municipal airstrips countrywide. 

This project, implemented between September 2022 and March 2024, is funded by the U.S. Embassy’s Central American Regional Security Initiative – Economic Support Fund (CARSI-ESF) and implemented by RET in Belize. 

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Published by @ret

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