BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 3, 2018– Within the United States’ system of classifying countries according to the efforts those nations make to combat human trafficking, Belize is among several countries which have a Tier 3 rating. This has placed us within the targeted scope of a “U.S. Presidential Determination with Respect to Foreign Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons,” that was issued by the Trump White House.
“President Trump on November 29 granted a partial waiver to Belize from U.S. foreign assistance restrictions for those countries rated as Tier 3 in the U.S. 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report,” said a US Embassy press release on Friday.
Nations which are Tier 3 are subjected to restrictions on US foreign aid, unless they get a waiver from the president, the Embassy press release explained.
“Of the 22 countries ranked Tier 3 in the 2018 Traffic in Persons Report, five countries, including Belize, received either full or partial waivers,” the US Embassy press release said.
The release added, “The restrictions apply to non-humanitarian and non-trade-related foreign assistance, and to funds provided through international financial institutions, to Tier 3 governments. In certain circumstances, restrictions also apply to educational and cultural exchange programs for Tier 3 government officials. The partial restrictions on Belize do not apply to funding by international financial institutions or to exchange programs for government officials.
“The partial waiver for Belize will facilitate continuation of programming to enhance the ability of the Government of Belize to combat trafficking in persons, interdict illicit narcotics moving through its national waters and crossing its borders, and address other forms of drug trafficking and other transnational crimes, thereby reducing threats to the national security interests of the United States.
“Belize received a partial waiver because it is in the national interest of the United States to support efforts in Belize to build capacity to stem human trafficking, narcotics trafficking, illegal migration, and other illicit trafficking to the United States southern border.
“The U.S. Department of State is reviewing programming in Belize to determine what will be affected by this determination.”
The Presidential Determination was in the form of a memorandum addressed to the Secretary of State.
On Friday, reporters caught up with Immigration Minister, Hon. Godwin Hulse, and he remarked, “The United States is going through their throes of changes with their president. We see that on the television every day. Belize has done what it can do as a nation to try to stem this. I don’t know. It is their decision; it’s on their judgment. From where I sit, our forces have been vigilant. We have done a tremendous amount of improvement in immigration. Everybody knows that, and so it is unfortunate, but it is what it is. I am not going to wring my hand and say, ‘oh my goodness’; we try to do our best in this country. But I want to say that it is all of our responsibility as a nation. I do not know that we deserved to be in that category, but it is what it is.”
Hon. Hulse was asked if he thinks this will hurt Belize in any particular way.
“Any kind of marking down in any way or so always hurts a nation, but we depend primarily in this country on our agriculture, which is doing rather well. We depend on our tourism and I don’t see any dip in that. And our relations with other countries are stable. Belize is a stable country and I think we will continue along those lines,” Hon. Hulse replied.
“I determine that the United States will not provide non-humanitarian, non-trade-related assistance to the Governments of Belarus, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Burundi, China, Comoros, the Republic of the Congo (ROC), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Laos, Mauritania, Papua New Guinea (PNG), South Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Venezuela for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 until such governments comply with the minimum standards or make significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with the Act,” said President Donald Trump in his memorandum to the Secretary of State.