Aruba National Coordinator Against Human Trafficking is a Global Hero
(Washington, D.C.) – Jeannette Richardson Baars honored by Secretary of State Clinton as hero against human trafficking.
Richardson Baars will receive the award today for her efforts in bringing the fight against human trafficking in Aruba to the forefront. She created a collaborative platform that enables the stakeholders on the island as well as in the region to better recognize, act and prosecute perpetrators, and more importantly provide safe havens for victims.
The honor acknowledges Richardson Baars’ work in the Caribbean Region and Aruba’s efforts to stop human trafficking as reported by the Traffic in Persons (TIP) section of the US State Department. This section oversees how nations coordinate their efforts in stopping trafficking in persons, which is considered the 21st century’s biggest crime against humanity.
“This award has come as a total surprise to me,” said Richardson Baars. Her name was submitted as a nominee for the TIP Hero Award by the US Consulate based in Curaçao. Under Deputy Commissioner Baars’ leadership, Aruba made great strides to combat human trafficking by increasing awareness of the issue and building on tough legislation passed in 2006.
The Importance of Public Awareness
Public awareness is crucial among law enforcement but also the general public. Despite its limited means, Aruba implemented a simple, yet thorough campaign where the public learned to recognize signs of human trafficking and what steps to take against it. Arubans learned that human trafficking and the exploitation of persons, in the sphere of prostitution or labor, is a violation of human rights.
“This is not a result of just my work, but the outcome of dedicated work by all who comprise the Human Trafficking Task Force in Aruba,” Richardson Baars commented. Moreover, the Deputy Commissioner attributes the success of the task force to the policy of the Minister of Justice in Aruba, Arthur Dowers. “He provided opportunity and space for the team to work, as he too deemed the fight against human trafficking as imperative for the wellbeing of the Aruban society.”
'Open Your Eyes'
Due to the campaign “Open Your Eyes” Aruban authorities got a better view of what areas are sensitive for human trafficking. With the help of a more conscientious Arubans learned where the victims may be. The victims themselves also received information about their rights through the campaign and with the passing of new legislation, are assured of protection by the authorities.
Aruba also received a good evaluation in the 2011 TIP Report. The report recognized the efforts and steps taken on the levels of legislation as well as awareness. It noted the ongoing criminal investigations taking place in Aruba and indicated the island’s determination to prosecute those who partake in human trafficking. Both the 2011 TIP Report and the TIP Hero Award are an acknowledgment of Aruba’s commitment to join the global community in fighting human trafficking.
You can find photos from the ceremony on our Facebook page.