Categorized | National News

AG: No Sex Tourism In The Bahamas

Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson has told members of the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva that sex tourism involving children does not occur in The Bahamas.

The attorney general, who is accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary Cleola Hamilton and other government officials, is in Switzerland for the 15th session of the universal periodic review of the country.

“On the topic of children, I wish to pause briefly to address the obscure and non-specific allegations of sex tourism involving children in The Bahamas,” she told council members on Wednesday.

“After comprehensive investigation, the government has found no support for such claims. In fact, it emerged during our consultation with civil society, that a local human rights group, funded by international aid agencies, had also conducted a survey, independent from the government, and came to a similar conclusion. For example, of 34 female ‘sex workers’ interviewed, none had any knowledge or had heard of any children being involved in the sex trade.”

Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said government officials recognise, however, that the mere fact of being a major tourist destination that welcomes millions of tourists each year might serve to generate such suspicion, “even if there is no empirical basis for it.”

“In this regard, The Bahamas welcomes the assistance and participation of the international community who would wish to work with Bahamian officials on this or other issues involving children,” she said.

“In fact, I am pleased to inform you that The Bahamas’ government has just granted permission for the special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, to visit The Bahamas during this year, upon her request, to gather first-hand information on human trafficking, and to engage with government officials and civil society organisations to deal with these challenges. My government looks forward to her visit and to working with her in the execution of her mandate.”

The attorney general also informed council members that the government, in the strongest way, will vigorously investigate, pursue and prosecute any credible reports of such activities.

She also addressed the issue of abuse against children.

“The Department of Social Services has also spearheaded the National Child Abuse Prevention Inter-Agency Protocol, which attempts to document current practices, and set out policies and procedures in respect of child protection issues,” Mrs. Maynard-Gibson told the council.

“It is envisaged to be operational early in 2013, and provides for collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of National Security, the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and non-governmental organisations.”

The attorney general said aside from a variety of policies, programmes and inter-agency partnership, the government strongly promotes awareness of child abuse through public service announcements, a National Abuse Hotline, an annual “awareness” month and other social programmes.

“Academic studies on the issue of child abuse have also been commissioned by the College of The Bahamas, to study all aspects of the problem, and provide useful data and observations to inform the national approach,” she said.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 states responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.

Sasha Lightbourne

Written by Sasha Lightbourne

Journal Staff Writer

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