The government increased victim identification efforts, but victim assistance remained insufficient, especially in areas outside the capital and for male victims. The ATU, in coordination with the Guyana police force, developed identification procedures that field officers used informally during the reporting period pending their formal review and approval from the taskforce. The government reported identifying 98 trafficking victims in 2016 (80 for sex trafficking and 18 for labor trafficking), compared with 56 in 2015. An NGO reported the government referred 40 victims to shelter and psycho-social services in 2016, compared with 17 victims in 2015. The government signed a MOU with an anti-trafficking NGO during the previous reporting period commiting public funding to the NGO-run shelter for the provision of enhanced psycho-social services to adult female trafficking victims referred by the government. Despite this commitment, the government did not fund this shelter during this reporting period. The government provided 13 million GYD ($63,415) to another NGO that provided housing and counseling services to victims of gender-based violence, including an unknown number of trafficking victims. There were no adequate public or private shelters for male or child trafficking victims, despite the government’s commitment, made in early 2016, to open and partially fund a shelter for male victims. Child trafficking victims were placed in non-specialized shelters, and child victims identified in rural areas were placed in holding cells overnight without food before being transferred to the capital for shelter. Male victims were offered voluntary placement in homeless shelters.
The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. Guyanese law protects victims’ identities from being released to the media; however, NGOs reported open court trials re-traumatized victims and exposed their identity to members of the public. Victims were allowed to leave shelters during their stay; however, they were strongly encouraged to stay in shelters until trials concluded or be chaperoned. NGOs provided protection and counseling for victims during their stay. Guyanese law protects victims from punishment for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking and provides foreign victims with relief from deportation. The government granted one victim of trafficking temporary residence and legal employment in Guyana. The government did not report whether it facilitated or funded the repatriation of Guyanese nationals victimized abroad; however, it offered shelter, medical care, and psycho-social assistance to victims upon their return. In July, with funding from a foreign government and an international organization, 105 officials and some NGO representatives received victim identification and protection training over a six-day period. In December, the government-funded training for 37 officials on victim identification and assistance.