Student, Hugh Wooding Law School
In T&T, human trafficking is referred to as trafficking in persons.
'Trafficking in persons' and 'trafficking in children' are serious offences punishable by law. These offences are covered by the Trafficking in Persons Act, Chap.12:10 (the Act). This Act seeks to prevent trafficking in persons (especially women and children) and punish the offenders.
What is traffickingin persons?
Trafficking in persons is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people by means of the threat, deception or abduction for the purpose of exploitation.It is also the giving or receiving of payment or benefits to achieve the consent of child's guardian for the purpose of exploitation'.
Under the Act, anyone under the age of 18 years is a child.
A victim is any of the following:
�2 An adult or child whom the offence of trafficking in persons is committed against or whom an offence is alleged to have been committed against;
�2 Anyone who has entered the country illegally or without proper documentation and is subjected to forced labour for domestic services or the retail sector;
�2 Anyone who has entered the country to work and his passport , visa or other travel documents have been destroyed or taken by his employers;
�2 Anyone who has no legal status in T&T and is forced to work in brothels or clubs for the purposes of prostitution, pornography and or sexual exploits;
�2 Anyone who has been forced to transport illegal items within T&T or to another country;
�2 Anyone who would reasonably believe that he has no alternative but to submit to the labour or service demanded of him ; or
�2 A child who is subjected to prostitution, sexual exploitation, child pornography, forced labour or abuse.
Neither the victim's consent nor the past sexual conduct of the victim is a defence to the offence of trafficking in persons.
This Act contains extensive victim protections.
Trafficking in persons, trafficking in children and all other related offences are indictable offences.
A person found guilty of the offence of trafficking in persons or anyone who directs another person to commit the offence is liable to a fine of no less than $500,000 and imprisonment of no less than 15 years.
Additionally, a person found guilty of trafficking in children or a person who assists another to person to traffic children is liable to a fine of not less than one million dollars and imprisonment for not less than 20 years.
Moreover, a person who transports another person into or within T&T or across an international border for the purpose of exploiting that person is liable to a fine of three hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($350,000) and to imprisonment for twelve (12) years.
Who can you contact?
Any person who is a victim of human trafficking or any member of the general public who has information on victims or offenders of human trafficking can contact 'Tips for Tips' at 800-4CTU or 800-4288.
This is a toll free hotline service of the Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU) of the Ministry of National Security. Calls can be made by private numbers and without disclosing your identity.
This column is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should consult a legal adviser.