Capitol City

Belmopan
CAPITAL CITY

385,854
POPULATION

(July 2018, est. from CIA)

Tourism
PRIMARY INDUSTRY

"This is an important partnership. We do not have the expertise in human trafficking as a subject for which the courts are responsible. It means we have to partner with someone who has the expertise in order to render ourselves capable and competent to perform the role we are constitutionally required to perform.”

– CHIEF JUSTICE KENNETH BENJAMIN, BELIZE JUDICIARY

About Belize

Belize is a small Central American country, well-known for its climate, beaches, jungles and the second largest barrier reef in the world. What many do not realize is that officials in Belize must also confront human traffickers, who are profiting from sex trafficking and forced labor.

The Need

Despite many identified trafficking victims every year, a trafficker has not been convicted for exploiting those victims since 2016. It is also likely that many more victims are not even being identified.

In the 2018 U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report (“TIP Report”), Belize was given an improved grade, after being given a failing grade for four consecutive years. The country moved up from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watchlist ranking. In addition to highlighting some of Belize’s “key achievements,” the TIP report also noted areas for improvement.  In further explaining the Tier 2 Watch ranking, the TIP report noted that “despite these achievements, the government did not investigate or prosecute any public officials for complicity in trafficking-related offenses” and “did not convict any traffickers for the third consecutive reporting period.”

Belize’s location in Central America makes it a source, transit, and destination country for trafficking victims. With no meaningful cost for their crimes, traffickers continue to force vulnerable men, women, and children into labor and commercial sex in Belize. Sex trafficking of women and children, in particular, is a problem.

Progress

The Goal

  • Increase the capacity of Belize’s specialized anti-trafficking police unit to investigate trafficking cases by working together with Institute experts in a new secure office location where they can store evidence, develop investigative strategies, and interview victims.
  • Improve trafficking survivors’ response and cooperation with Belize law enforcement by creating a safe and secure environment in which they can provide witness statements.
  • Hire a Law Enforcement Advisor to office with the specialized police unit and work with them each day to develop their skills, solve case-related challenges, and stop more traffickers.
  • Develop curriculum to train recruits at the Belize police academy to identify trafficking cases and refer them to the Specialized Police Unit.