A team from the International Police (INTERPOL) was in Guyana last week to commence a project that aims at tackling Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and migrant smuggling.The team, which was welcomed by the local Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons, was in Guyana from April 9-13. The visiting team comprised two officials representing INTERPOL and one officer from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).This Needs Assessment is the first of a three-phase INTERPOL Project to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling in the Caribbean. The INTERPOL Team kicked off their mission with visits to Itaballi, Puruni and Bartica in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) during which they were accompanied by a team from the Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons in Guyana.The visit to Region Seven enabled the visiting team to experience the difficulties associated with travelling to interior regions in Guyana and policing these areas, to witness working conditions in the mines and the general conditions in which persons in the area lived. This experience facilitated the team from INTERPOL in making a general assessment of the risks and other difficulties associated with curbing occurrences of trafficking in persons in interior regions in Guyana.In addition, before returning to Georgetown, the INTERPOL team joined representatives of the Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons in conducting sensitisation on the issue in the Bartica Market, Arcade and Beach areas. This activity followed a similar Task Force ‘Roving Sensitisation’ activity conducted along the seawalls from the Seawall Bandstand to Vlissengen Road on Easter weekend.The awareness activity in Bartica saw vendors and customers alike engaged in discussion on the topic of trafficking in persons and were encouraged to report suspected cases; posters affixed to the walls of various market stalls, shops and other establishments; and brochures, flyers and other material bearing messages of awareness and the trafficking in persons hotline number distributed to individuals along the way.The activity seemed to yield instant results as a report was received soon after through the TIP hotline of suspected trafficking in persons in the area. A raid was subsequently conducted by ranks of the Bartica Police Station and resulted in eight females from The Dominican Republic being recovered from a house in Bartica. One suspect has since been arrested. The case is currently under investigation by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Guyana Police Force.However, subsequent to the visit to Region Seven, the INTERPOL team met with the ministerial arm of the Trafficking in Persons Task Force, other Government officials, frontline officers and other stakeholders in the fight against trafficking in persons in Guyana. Discussions at these meetings afforded the INTERPOL team the opportunity to articulate the goals of their project and to gather more information on the operational and technical needs of the agencies involved in the fight against trafficking in persons.The Needs Assessment phase of INTERPOL’s project would be followed by a training phase and an operational phase. The training phase will see officers from different agencies in Guyana being invited to benefit from a number of regional training courses which will span a total of seven weeks. Training will focus primarily on law enforcement, but there would also be sessions which would benefit trafficking in persons stakeholders from other agencies.A ‘Training of Trainers’ would be one of the courses included. As such, those trained would be encouraged to return to Guyana to train others – both law enforcement and otherwise – in the topics learned. INTERPOL would also share a curriculum, to be contributed to by authorities in Guyana, which is intended to be added to the training programme at the Guyana Police Force Officers’ Training Centre.Meanwhile, the operational phase would see INTERPOL lending support to the countries being considered in the project in their local anti-trafficking in persons operations.The Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons eagerly anticipates the development of this project and looks forward to continued collaboration with INTERPOL, as well as other international partners, as it seeks to effectively combat this scourge of trafficking in persons in Guyana.