The government increased efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. However, victim assistance remained insufficient, especially in areas outside the capital and for child and male victims. The task force and ATU drafted standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification, referral, and assistance, but the SOPs were not formalized by the end of the reporting period as the government stated it planned to do so by the end of 2018. The government identified 131 victims in 2017 (65 for sex trafficking, 35 for labor trafficking, and 31 for both forms), compared with 98 in 2016. The government referred 115 victims to shelter and psycho-social services, compared with 40 in 2016. The government trained 156 village leaders and 96 government officials from the interior regions on victim identification and assistance. The government also trained members of the business community and civil society on victim identification.
The government provided 10 million Guyanese dollar (GYD) ($46,510) to the NGO-run shelter for the provision of enhanced psycho-social services to adult female trafficking victims referred by the government. The government provided 31.2 million GYD ($145,120) to another NGO that provided housing and counseling services to victims of gender-based violence, including an unknown number of trafficking victims. The government opened and operated the first shelter outside of the capital; the new shelter caters exclusively to adult female victims of trafficking. All identified victims received shelter, food, training, and psychological therapy. 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 victims were placed into foster care, safe homes, or were reintegrated with their families while adult male victims were placed at non-specialized night shelters on an ad hoc basis.
Guyanese law protects victims’ identities from release to the media. Victims could leave shelters; however, they were strongly encouraged to stay unless with a chaperone or until trials concluded. NGOs and MoSP provided protection and counseling for all identified victims, while the government provided transportation for victims who declined shelter but were willing to attend court proceedings. The government did not penalize victims for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking. The government reported multiple cases of delivering foreign victims to their respective embassies at the request of the foreign missions before the conclusion of prosecutions. The government granted one victim temporary residence and legal employment in Guyana. The government, with the assistance of an international organization, repatriated 21 suspected trafficking victims. 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.