World Day against Trafficking in Persons

Headlining a news item in this newspaper on July 25, 2021 was an article “Mother pleads for safe return of 2 sons, allegedly taken by father”.
The article, which states that the matter was brought to attention of Police and the Child Care and Protection Agency (CC&PA), relates the plight of a mother who was a student at the Government Technical Institute and is pleading with the public to help her locate her two sons, aged two and six, who went missing since May this year. It is suspected that the children might have been taken by their father without her consent.
This was a mother who was valiantly attempting to better her circumstances so that she could independently provide the wherewithal for a good life for her children and, in pursuit of this goal, she left her children in the care of someone she trusted. But unfortunately, the caregiver colluded with someone else to take the children and place them in the custody of someone else. That the person she gave the children to was their father was irrelevant since there are legal recourses for custodial rights.
To add to this frantic mother’s woes, when her appeals to Police fell on deaf ears, she desperately took her story to social media in the hope that she would receive assistance from the relevant authorities; instead, she was charged for cyber-bullying. Police ignored a mother’s anguished pleas to locate and restore her children to her and when she attempted to use the only recourse she thought she had, they charged her instead of the perpetrators who kidnapped and hid her children.
The distressed woman told Guyana Times “I made a Facebook post in June… I got a call from the senior officer and he said ‘Miss Simmons, your children are here at the Vigilance Police Station and you can come and collect them”. When I reach up there, I was charged.”
This was clearly a violation of professional ethics by the Police also, who are themselves adding to the agony of a distressed mother, who, because of their lies, thought she was about to retrieve her missing children, only to be charged.
The report continued that after receiving the report, Guyana Times contacted a senior Police Officer for a comment on the matter and he said that the children are not missing but in their father’s custody, adding that just like the mother, the father has 50 per cent right of the children’s custody.
With what right has the officer arrogated to himself the mandate to determine a matter that is solely the remit of the courts? Instead of punishing the perpetrators and returning the woman’s children, he adjudicated the matter, thus further victimising the victim.
Trafficking of Persons has many facets, and no parent has the right to clandestinely remove a child, without prior arrangement with the guardian parent, without their prior consent and/or foreknowledge: Worse yet was it to make that child inaccessible to its primary caregiver, who is left agonised and traumatised by the actions of both perpetrators and Police. MassLegalHelp posits: “… it is not legal for the other parent to take your child from you. Sometimes taking your child from you is a crime, like “parental kidnapping” .
KingLaw elucidates: “Avoid Parental Kidnapping Accusations. Be very careful about leaving the state with your kids without the consent of their other parent. This doesn’t look good to a judge and may open you up to parental kidnapping accusations.”
The UN has designated July 30, 2021 as World Day Against Trafficking in Persons and it behoves the relevant authorities to take cognisance of the varying forms of Trafficking in Persons and train ignorant Police ranks on pertinent laws.