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Meeting of Caribbean countries led by TRACK4TIP strengthens communication channels and regional cooperation

Panama, 24 June 2022. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), through the Track4Tip Initiative, organized in Panama the Caribbean Subregional Meeting to promote regional cooperation against trafficking in persons in the context of migration flows in the Caribbean.

The two-day event - attended by representatives from Aruba, Curacao, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago - sought to strengthen communication channels and information exchange among participating authorities.

"Track4Tip facilitates dialogue between national coordination mechanisms and justice operators to strengthen the response of States to the crime of trafficking in persons, especially in migratory contexts," explained Lissette Reyes, the Initiative's officer in the Dominican Republic and responsible for its implementation in the Caribbean.

The irregular movement of human groups across borders, even facilitated by criminal groups, has challenged the international community despite countries' best efforts. According to official figures published by the R4V platform, more than 5 million migrants and refugees from Venezuela are in Latin America and the Caribbean, with more than 195,000 in the latter region.

"Our goal is to achieve operational mechanisms to exchange information, strengthen response networks between authorities and address trafficking in persons in a coordinated manner with a vision focused on the victims and their rights," explained Gilberto Zuleta, regional officer of Track4Tip, to the audience in consideration of the routes, patterns and dynamics shared between countries in the region.

In that sense, the exchange allowed for greater knowledge on bilateral and multilateral cooperation to combat the crime and provided information to eliminate knowledge gaps and understanding on current trends in trafficking in persons, including modalities and its direct link to migration in the region.

At the conclusion of the meeting, attendees also highlighted the potential to exchange information on trends, challenges and solutions; create a common understanding of the international legal framework for cooperation against trafficking in persons; and establish contacts for possible future bilateral/regional cooperation to strengthen the detection, investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons.

Yohanna Bejarán, from the Dominican Republic's Specialized Prosecutor's Office for Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants highlighted the importance of the meeting. "Track4Tip has had an important impact in strengthening technical capacities, in the positive change in the processes of combating trafficking in persons and its related crimes. As prosecutors and investigators we are responsible for due process and conducting good investigations."