Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, is urging Jamaicans to be more vigilant as the nation seeks to combat the problem of human trafficking.

Commissioner Anderson was speaking at a ceremony marking the opening of a new Child-Friendly Space at the Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime Investigation Branch (C-TOC), in downtown Kingston. He began, delving into the misconception surrounding the identity of traffickers. “Sometimes when we think of this idea of human trafficking, there’s somehow this idea of a shadowy group out there that is seeking out children. When you start to look at the cases, a lot of the cases … the person who is doing the victimization is somebody who has the trust of the victim, families, friends,” he explained.

This point was a stark reminder of the complexity and proximity of the threat. Major General Anderson noted that, contrary to common belief, it is not always men who are targeting children for human trafficking. “When you start to look at the cases, it’s not even a single gender. You have adult women involved in trafficking girls,” Anderson continued, highlighting a disturbing trend observed in recent investigations. “So it is those persons who are doing this. It comes with many faces. We don’t want to be deceived into thinking that this is somehow this [distant] monster out there that somehow, … once we separate them from our children, it’s all safe,” he warned.

The Commissioner’s message was clear: vigilance must start at home, in our neighbourhoods, and within our trusted circles. He emphasized the importance of being alert to the signs of trafficking, shattering any preconceived notions of safety derived from familiarity. He reiterated C-TOC’s mantra in dealing with human trafficking: “Be wise, open your eyes, spot it, stop it, and report it.” This call to action serves as a rallying cry for all citizens to play an active role in detecting and preventing human trafficking.

In his address, Anderson also underscored the critical role of child-friendly spaces like the one at C-TOC. “These sanctuaries are pivotal in our fight against trafficking. They’re not just rooms; they’re refuges where young lives, already scarred by unimaginable horrors, can start healing without the fear of re-traumatization,” he stated passionately.

And stressed the indispensable role of partnerships and collective effort in battling human trafficking. “It’s rare that there is a case where it only affects one organization. The synergy that we get from working together always creates more benefit. That is actually one of our pillars in the JCF; partnerships and collaboration. It has moved us along significantly because of those partnerships. Because the other side of that is that means we have to be good partners,” Anderson declared, highlighting the JCF’s commitment to working alongside various partners.

Meanwhile, visiting Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, Uzra Zeya, underscored the importance of bi-lateral partnership “Together, we are making strides in our shared mission to combat human trafficking and provide the highest standards of care for its youngest victims,” she said.

Under Secretary Zeya explained that this latest space has been a long time in coming.  “This space born out of the US-Jamaica Child Protection Compact partnership, represents the culmination of years of collaboration and shared commitment between our two nations. Since its inception, this partnership has been driven by a common goal to combat child trafficking and provide the highest standards of care to the youngest victims, and from its humble beginnings to this momentous occasion commemorating the 10th and final opening of a child friendly space.”

The opening of the Child-Friendly Space was more than a mere ceremonial occasion; it was a wake-up call to the nation that not only highlights the critical work being done by the JCF, but also reminds us of the shared responsibility we all have in protecting the most vulnerable in our society.