By AZP Staff
TRINIDAD and Tobago does not fully meet the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking.
This according to the United States Department of State in its 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report). The report allows TT to maintain its Tier 2 position stating it “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period…”
The TIP Report stated the efforts included increasing anti-trafficking training for its officials, initiating investigations against three potentially complicit officials, initiating more prosecutions, establishing a new intelligence task force to improve investigations, and developing a new memorandum of understanding between its children’s authority and anti-trafficking unit to better protect child victims.
But the report pointed out that the government was yet to secure a conviction under the 2011 anti-trafficking laws that criminalized sex trafficking and labour trafficking.
It stated, “Public officials, media, and experts noted increasing reports of potential government complicity in trafficking cases, with insufficient government attention to the issue.”
The report made a number of recommendations:
• Ensure trafficking victims are adequately screened so that they are not penalized for crimes that occurred during their exploitation.
• Provide adequate funding for robust trafficking investigations and victim services, including accommodations.
• Improve cooperation between the Counter Trafficking Unit, prosecutors, and NGOs to increase the number of cases that proceed to trial.
• Increase funding and services for language interpreters available to law enforcement and victim care.
• Provide specialized care to child trafficking victims.
• Strengthen oversight and regulation of private labor recruitment agencies and domestic workers.
• Increase training on trafficking for NGOs and shelter staff to improve their ability to identify and care for potential trafficking victims.
• Increase the ability to accept victim video testimony in court proceedings.
• Consider increasing NGO representation to the anti-trafficking task force.
• Begin drafting a national action plan for the period beyond 2020.
The report noted: “Human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Trinidad and Tobago, and traffickers exploit victims from Trinidad and Tobago abroad.
“Traffickers lure women and girls from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Colombia with offers of employment and then subject them to sex trafficking in brothels and clubs.
“Traffickers are increasingly targeting vulnerable foreign young women and girls between the ages of 15 and 21. Because of deteriorating economic conditions in their home country, Venezuelans are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and there has been a large influx of Venezuelans to Trinidad and Tobago in recent years.”
It noted that 24.9 million people worldwide have been robbed of their basic human dignity by human traffickers.