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The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons

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Tue, Nov 27, 2012

Continued from last week

Aggravated Circumstances

The Act has, embedded in it, some aggravated circumstances where a person convicted of the offence of TIP can be sentenced to an additional term of imprisonment of up to 20 years other than the sentence set out in Section 5(1) in paragraph one. Some of the aggravated circumstances listed in Part II Section 8(1) are as follows:{{more}}

a) The convicted person used, threatened to use or caused another to use or threatened to use a dangerous weapon;

b) The victim suffers a serious bodily injury, or if the convicted person commits a sexual assault against the victim;

c) The trafficking involved a victim who is particularly vulnerable, including a pregnant woman.

Victims to be Immune from Prosecution

The PTIP Act has erased all culpability from a victim of Trafficking in Persons for any illegal act s/he may commit as a direct result of being trafficked. Part II Section 11 posits “a victim is not criminally liable for any immigration-related offence or any other criminal offence that is as a direct result of being trafficked”. For example, if a victim was forced into prostitution and was caught by the Police in the very act, s/he should not be prosecuted.

Forfeiture

The Act gives a convicted human trafficker no space whatsoever to enjoy his/her ill-gotten financial or other material gains from this dastardly act. This is clearly set out in Part II Section 12(1) which states “ where a person has been convicted of the offence of Trafficking in Persons and the court is satisfied that any property, including but not limited to money, valuables and other moveable and immovable property, of the person convicted was used or intended to be used, or was obtained in the course of the crime or benefits were gained from the proceeds of the crime, the court shall order that the property be forfeited to the State”. This also includes overseas assets of the convicted human trafficker.

Restitution

Editor, readers, the PTIP Act also stipulates that a victim of trafficking can be compensated where necessary. Part II Section 16(1) posits “where a person is convicted of the offence of Trafficking in Persons the court may order that person to pay restitution to the victim for any of the following:

a. Cost of medical and psychological treatment
b. Cost of physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation
c. Cost of necessary transportation, temporary housing and child care
d. Lost income
e. Attorney fees and other legal fees
f. Compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering and;
g. Any other losses suffered by the victim which the court considers applicable

Assistance and Protection of Victims of Trafficking in Persons

In the investigation and prosecution of offences relating to Trafficking in Persons, a victim of Trafficking in Persons is guaranteed protection and assistance under Part III Sections 20 – 32 of the PTIP Act. Here are some of them:

1. Protection for the Safety of Victims including Identification of Victims – in this regard, the following shall apply:

a. All steps necessary to identify the victim shall be taken.

b. The victim shall be given the appropriate protection to avoid recapture and to secure the victim from threats, reprisals, and intimidation by the traffickers and their associates.

c. Appropriate measures of protection shall be taken to secure the victim’s family from threats, reprisals, or intimidation by the traffickers or their associates if the victim’s family resides in SVG
d. Appropriate measures of protection shall be taken to secure any organization or entity providing assistance or support to the victim from threats, reprisals or intimidation by the traffickers or their associates.

2. Witness Protection – victims, whether or not witnesses or potential witnesses, may be eligible for applicable witness relocation and protection programmes for victims of organised criminal activity or other serious offences, if it is determined that an offence involving a crime of violence is directed at the victim is likely to be committed.

3. Assistance to Victims – victims who are not citizens or permanent residents of SVG and their accompanying dependent children may be entitled to receive social benefits for the duration of their stay in SVG as may be determined by the Minister responsible for social security.

4. Immigration Status of Victims – the competent authority may provide a victim and accompanying dependent children with appropriate visas or other required authorization to permit them to remain and work in SVG for the duration of the criminal prosecution against the traffickers.

Editor, readers, the above list is not exhaustive, they are only some of the protection and assistance measures set out in the PTIP Act.

National Task Force against Trafficking in Persons

Part IV Sections 34-39 of the PTIP speaks of the formation of a National Task Force against TIP. The Task Force shall comprise of the Hon. Attorney General, the Ministers responsible for Finance, Foreign Affairs, Family, Gender Affairs, National Security, Social Development, Social Security, Labour and Legal Affairs.

The Task Force shall also comprise of the other appropriate Senior Government Officials with responsibility for Law Enforcement, Immigration, Social Development, Foreign Affairs, Labour, Justice and other appropriate non-governmental organisations and other persons with the relevant expertise, who shall be appointed by the Cabinet and who shall hold office for two year but may be eligible for reappointment.

Some of the functions of the Task Force are as follows:

o To develop a national plan to address TIP and coordinate its effective implementation

o To coordinate the collection and sharing of trafficking data among government agencies

o To establish policies to enable the government to work with non-governmental organisations and other elements of civil society to prevent TIP and provide assistance to victims and;

o To coordinate and provide training for Law Enforcement, Immigration and other relevant officials in addressing Trafficking in Persons.

The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit (ATIPU)
Police Headquarters
Questelles Police Station
Tel: 784-4571211
Email: svgantitraffickingunit@gmail.com

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