Saturday, February 24, 2018

Human trafficking: T&T gets US kudos

Trinidad and Tobago’s ranking with respect to its work in eliminating human trafficking has improved.

A release from the National Security Ministry yesterday stated that the United States Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 showed that this country has succeeded in rising from Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2.

The release stated that the annual report acknowledged the successes of certain measures taken by the Government, including:

-  Strengthening of the Counter-Trafficking Unit (CTU) which spearheaded investigations and drafted standard operating procedures.

- Designation of four prosecutors to specialise in the prosecution of trafficking cases and to work directly with investigators.

-Identification of an increased number of victims (trafficked for forced labour and sexual exploitation) and referral of the said victims for care.

-Investigation of 22 cases of trafficking.

-Commendable handling of victims by the CTU through the use of victim sensitive techniques when interviewing victims.

-Documentation of statements from most foreign victims prior to repatriation.

-Charges laid against a number of suspected offenders for the first time under the TIP Act of 2011.

-Proactive investigation of government officials for trafficking-related complicity —Cooperation between this country and the Dominican Republic, a source country of certain trafficking victims.

-Issuance of a work and residency permit to a foreign victim who assisted in a trafficking investigation.

-Granting of temporary immigration relief to victims.

-Partnering with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for the repatriation of identified victims.

-Funding of NGOs that provide care for victims.

- Provision of multiple specialised anti-trafficking training sessions throughout the year.

-Drafting of a plan for National Awareness Campaign in partnership with NGOs.

The release stated that the US report criticised Trinidad and Tobago for not having in place formalised stand-alone identification procedures for frontline responders,

However, it acknowledged that such an operations manual had already been drafted by the CTU.

The release stated that though not mentioned in the TIP Report, the CTU has compiled an operational guide for law enforcement officers in the investigation of human trafficking.

Additionally the TIP Report highlighted the Children’s Act 2012 which though not yet enacted; contains stringent penalties for offences related to Children. Trinidad and Tobago was commended for this.

Other anti-trafficking steps taken by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago:

-Sensitisation sessions have been conducted for the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, schools, governmental and non-governmental agencies.

-In Tobago, workshop sessions have also been held and a segment on human trafficking was produced by the Information Department of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).