The government maintained inadequate efforts to protect victims and identified fewer victims, despite an increase in Venezuelan refugees. Victim assistance remained a serious concern, especially in areas outside the capital and for Venezuelan child and male victims. In 2019, the government identified 102 victims (63 sex trafficking and 39 labor trafficking), a decrease from 156 identified victims in 2018 and 131 in 2017. The victims came from Guyana as well as the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Venezuela. Ninety-five were female and seven male, with 10 minors. Three were referred by an international organization. The government referred 99 out of 102 victims to shelter and 98 to protective services, compared with 93 out of 131 victims in 2018. It is not clear if victims received individualized care plans. Due in part to the noticeable increase of victims from Venezuela, the government began work on standard operating procedures to identify and refer trafficking victims for protection with assistance from an international organization but did not adopt them by the end of the reporting period. The government provided 60 million Guyanese dollars (GYD) ($279,070) to NGO-managed shelters providing housing for adult female victims of gender-based violence and trafficking in 2019, the same amount provided in 2018. Victims could receive shelter, food, training, and psychological therapy. The government also provided 2 million GYD ($9,300), a decrease from 3.5 million GYD ($16,280) last year, in direct financial assistance to victims who chose not to stay in a shelter. Authorities opened the first shelter for trafficking victims outside the capital. There were inadequate trafficking shelters for male or child trafficking victims; few provided trauma-trained staff or long-term facilities. MoSP provided intake counselling to child victims whom it placed in shelters co-managed with NGOs. MoSP placed some children into foster care or reintegrated them with their families, while authorities placed adult male victims at non-specialized night shelters on an ad hoc basis.
To protect victims’ privacy and identities, some human trafficking cases were heard in camera, and the government strongly advised the media to avoid taking photos of the victims. Observers reported police and other authorities intimidated some victims into staying at shelters against their will, did not allow family visits until trials were completed, and cut short some victims’ phone calls if they spoke in their native language. The government reported victims could leave shelters at will, although occasionally measures were necessary to prevent victims from giving out shelter locations. MoSP provided protection and counseling for child victims, and one of the NGO shelters provided counseling for adult victims, accommodation for up to six months, and training to help develop self-sufficiency. The MoSP funded transportation costs and police escorts for victims staying outside a shelter who were willing to attend court proceedings and granted deportation relief to 135 foreign victims. The government reported granting foreign victims temporary residence status and work permits if requested. The government reported facilitating the repatriation of one Guyanese national trafficked abroad, to whom it provided counseling and reintegration assistance.