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US knocks human trafficking in T&T
Prosecute, convict and sentence human traffickers including “government officials complicit in human trafficking.” That is one of the major recommendations for T&T in the Trafficking in Persons Report 2014, which was released by the US State Department yesterday.The report looked at and made recommendations on the issue as it affected several nations. It suggested that adequate resources be devoted to the Counter Trafficking Unit to carry out its mandate to investigate trafficking crimes and to identify and protect victims.
Dealing with prosecution, the report said the T&T Government “significantly improved its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the reporting period.” For the period, the government’s anti-trafficking unit “investigated 22 cases of trafficking and charged 12 defendants..., including three current or former government officials.”
The report said all the cases involved foreign victims, as well as “three suspected forced labour trafficking, including two for domestic servitude.” The remainder of the cases involved suspected sex trafficking, the report said. National Security Minister Gary Griffith, who is abroad, could not be reached for comment yesterday. The US report further stated that the T&T Government “designated four prosecutors to specialise in the prosecution of trafficking cases and work directly with investigators.”
It said a Counter Trafficking Unit, established last year, “led efforts to investigate sex trafficking and forced labour in the country during the reporting period.” According to the report, the unit cooperated with authorities in the Dominican Republic on cases of suspected traffickers recruiting Dominican women for forced prostitution in Trinidad. “Law enforcement and civil society reported that some police and immigration officers facilitated human trafficking in the country, with some government officials directly exploiting victims,” it said.
The Government, it added, was “yet to convict a trafficking offender, including any officials for trafficking-related complicity.” The report said sources in T&T said that “some off-duty police officers provided security for sex trade establishments, which could inhibit law enforcement’s willingness to investigate allegations of human trafficking in the sex trade.” It said the Government “made some progress in efforts to prevent human trafficking, such as raising awarenesss, in 2013.”