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TT’s tough on trafficking

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

TT’s tough on trafficking

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The Trinidad and Tobago government has tabled new legislation imposing harsher penalties for persons found guilty of child trafficking.
National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy piloting the Trafficking of Persons Bill yesterday said the near one-year-old People’s Partnership coalition would not turn a blind eye to those involved in trafficking of persons.
“Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where persons are lured for purposes including, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery and even the removal of organs (such as kidneys and eyes),” he said, adding that Trinidad and Tobago had been placed on a United States watch list of countries viewed as a transit and destination point for human trafficking.
He said the country was also viewed as one which did not fully comply with anti-human trafficking laws. 
Eleven cases of human trafficking were noted in 2009. 
The proposed legislation notes that persons found guilty of trafficking a child will face a “minimum” fine of one million dollars (US$166,600) and imprisonment for 20 years.
It notes that trafficking an adult would attract a TT$500,000 (US$83,300) minimum fine and imprisonment for 15 years. These penalties will also apply to those who incite, organise or direct another person to traffic.
Sandy said business corporations involved in trafficking would also face a penalty of five million dollars (US$833,330) with employees also liable to face separate charges.
In addition, the court would also be empowered to impose additional penalties such as forfeiture of assets and properties, revocation of licences, winding up and prohibition against performing any further activities, he added.
Where a person who is convicted of trafficking in children had sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 12 years, the court can impose a term of imprisonment for the remainder of his natural life, Sandy said.
The National Security Minister said persons who knowingly receive benefits from trafficking in persons would be fined TT$400,000 (US$66,660) and 15 years imprisonment and for trafficking in children, TT$500,000 and 20 years imprisonment.
Those who take away the victim’s travel and identification documents will be fined TT$350,000 (US$58,333) and imprisonment for 12 years.
Sandy said under the bill the court could also order compensation to be paid to the victim by the person convicted or out of the proceeds of any property forfeited.
Sandy said victims of trafficking were forced to work as prostitutes, strippers, drug mules, smugglers, child soldiers, many are used for pornography.
“For example, many prey on vulnerabilities by creating ruses that involve promises of marriage, employment, educational opportunities or a better life,” Sandy noted.
“We know of instances where women are brought from the South American mainland to Trinidad and Tobago. They are offered jobs and when they get on broad the vessel, their passports are taken away from them and they never see them again. And they are put into other areas of employment not dignified for their own qualifications,” Sandy told legislators. (CMC)